posted by Grady on Thu Jul 24, 10:39 AM
Sub Pop Records has been on a roll lately, at least in regards to hitting the sweet spot for my musical tastes. It started when they signed Shabazz Palaces, followed by Mogwai, TheeSatisfaction, METZ, Rose Windows, and now added to the fold is one raucous, hard-charging southern-bred juggernaut — Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires! I think I'd only played their Sub Pop debut, Dereconstructed, once at the store, but was intrigued enough to reach out for a photo pass and ticket for their debut in Seattle at the Tractor Tavern.
Unfortunately, I didn't make it to the Tractor in time to see openers, the Spinning Whips, a crew of locals who specialize in some gritty rock, but I'm sure they played admirably as I've seen them rip it up at Easy Street in the last year. I was there for the majority of the Jesus Rehab's frenetic set, and it was quite a good show. I've got a soft spot in my heart for two-piece rock bands, so I was paying close attention to these two dudes rocking out on stage. Vocalist/guitarist Jared wore a pair of fairy wings as he meandered from the mic to all reaches of the stage, never missing a chord (at least to my ears), while his brother Dominic pummeled his drum set like it stole a whole year's worth of his lunch money! Jamming tunes from their most recent LP — The Zoo At Night — the Seattle-based duo made an immediate impact on me, and I put them on my radar of bands to seek out when I'm looking through the weekly show listings!
Shortly after the Jesus Rehab brothers picked themselves up off the stage (literally ... Jared laid himself down during the last notes of their last song), Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires plugged in and took off, never letting up or looking back once their set started. A day before this show, I was talking to my best friend Drew, who lives back in Huntsville, Alabama, and when I told him I was going to see Lee and company, he almost lost his shit! He'd seen them a handful of times, opening for Jason Isbell once or twice, and said they were fucking awesome and I'd definitely love their set. Well, he must be the new Ms. Cleo, cause he was 100% right on the money. These four guys came with unbridled energy and all the southern rock you're ever gonna want! Just like on their record, from the start they let you know it's about rock-and-fuckin-roll – and partying! More than a handful of times, Lee stood up on the kick-drum and launched himself straight up-and-out, all while his bandmates churned through their progressions, keeping the rock train a'movin'! Patrons also got up-close and personal with the charismatic front man, as he jumped off the stage and into the crowd to shred with the people! At one point, in between songs, someone in the crowd yelled out Roll Tide" (an expression well known if you're from Alabama, or familiar with their football program), and much to my enjoyment and pride, Lee replied back, … nah, War DAMN Eagle!" further solidifying my newfound love for this band! Football allegiances aside, these guys are the real deal – authentic southern rock that is all about the music, so if you have the opportunity, don't let it pass you by, especially if they come and play a scuzzy dive bar or small club … the best settings to catch them! And just as a side note, Alabama's got some pretty good music seeping out from its red clay these days with acts like Jamey Johnson, Jason Isbell, Alabama Shakes, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, not to forget Yelawolf and the aforementioned Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires. Watch out, Bama's on the come-up!
posted by Grady on Wed Jul 16, 12:28 PM
There is no better show than one that meets and exceeds your expectations once the final note has been struck and the overhead lights brighten up the disheveled patrons who just experienced the same show. Seeing Failure obliterate any sense of apprehension during their two-part set was absolutely brilliant! Starting off the night without an opener was a pretty ballsy move, especially for a band who was never huge, and hadn't been heard from for over a decade, but Ken Andrews (guitar/vox), Greg Edwards (bass/guitar/keys) and Kellii Scott (drums) wanted to have a night (& tour) just to celebrate the return of Failure, so instead of having a band open, they chose to show a fifteen-minute "movie-montage" of influencers for some of their songs and some random things like snippets of Ren & Stimpy to get fans in the right headspace. This also enabled Failure to play longer sets, since they were going to take everyone on a trip that encompassed the three albums they released before their 1997 break-up.
Those who thought there would be rust after a seventeen-year hiatus were quickly and quietly put at a loss once the band strummed the first few chords of "Another Space Song," followed by "Frogs" and "Wet Gravity," a trio of songs that put the night into motion and set the fans ablaze with rekindled emotions from when they first heard these classic cuts. Each member was positioned on his own rounded pedestal, lit by rope lights wrapped up around their mic stands (or drum kit in Kellii's particular instance) that alternated between red and green as the house lights saturated the stage in reds and blues all night. After "Wet Gravity" they really hit a groove and went right into cuts from Fantastic Planet, as they played "Saturday Savior," "Sergeant Politeness," and a personal favorite, "Dirty Blue Balloons" before turning back to "Undone," a gem off their second release, Magnified. Listening to them play these songs to perfection and taking time between shots to sing along and absorb the show was key for me … I'd seen a variation of this show on Feb. 15, 1997, some 2,600 miles away, back in Atlanta, at the Masquerade … and to get to see it again, with a better appreciation for the band and their material, was just awesome. After performing "Pillowhead" and "Small Crimes," the guys took a quick intermission as the fans jostled for position up front, or took advantage of the break to get another beverage or grab a quick smoke.
After fifteen minutes or so, the guys were back out on the stage jumping into "Blank," which was followed with "Solaris" and "Smoking Umbrellas" before they launched into their semi-hit off of Fantastic Planet, "Stuck On You." By the time they hit this song, my voice was ragged, but I was still singing along with every note, as were many in attendance, doing our best to return the love to this underrated band that had been missing but not forgotten. The next three songs they played were all from Fantastic Planet as well, "Heliotropic," "Segue 3," and "The Nurse Who Loved Me" (a song that has been covered by many bands, most notably A Perfect Circle, from Thirteenth Step), and all three were sung by the band and the crowd, as the night was hitting its peak, ready for the crescendo of the encore. As the band finished up "The Nurse Who Loved Me," they took a bow and headed off stage-right to the green room, only to return a few minutes later to raucous applause for their swan song. For that, we were treated to back-to-back cuts from Comfort, their debut album from 1992, as they played "Macaque" and "Screen Man" before ending the night with "Daylight", the final song from Fantastic Planet.
Well played, gentlemen, well played. I eagerly look forward to the return of Failure and can only hope for a new studio album in the not-too-distant future, followed by another spectacular tour!
posted by Grady on Mon Jul 7, 08:58 AM
Kadavar is quietly making a name in the metal scene in the United States, blending influences from Black Sabbath, Hawkwind and Led Zeppelin into chugging, beard-riffic stoner jams – a recipe for success in many circles these days. The Berlin-based trio made a stop in our wonderful city back in early May, and played a killer set in the industrious Studio Seven, down in the SoDo district. Touring in support of the Nuclear Blast debut, Abra Kadavar, the dudes put on a jam session that had everyone in the building banging their head and air-guitaring throughout the set. Since they only have two releases, the night's set list was predominately new material, but they did treat those of us who hadn't heard their debut to some of its tastier treats as well, playing cuts like "Black Sun," "Goddess Of Dawn" and "Creature Of The Demon." Christoph Lindemann (guitar/vox), Simon Bouteloup (bass), and Christoph Bartelt (possibly the tallest drummer I've seen outside of Tool's Danny Carey) had a very simple stage set-up and approach – shred and destroy. Mission accomplished.
Opening for Kadavar was another hard-charging trio, The Shrine, a California-based punk band that bleeds as much Black Sabbath as they do Black Flag! Having seen these dudes open for Graveyard a year or so before, I knew what I was in for … high-volume thrash and punk mixed with doomy lyrics and shredding riffs! The Shrine was also out supporting a brand new release, Primitive Blast, their second release with TeePee Records, and one fine piece of work! Much like the headliners, The Shrine had a basic approach of killer guitars and screaming vocals, no elaborate backdrop or fancy pyro, just mics, equipment and balls. These dudes know how to throw down, and if you were lucky enough to catch this tour, you saw it for yourself. If you missed them this time around, hold tight, as I'm sure they'll come thundering through the Emerald City again!
posted by Grady on Fri Jun 13, 10:54 AM
Atlanta's thrashiest export was in town for the last Monday of April for a warm-up of sorts for their upcoming seventh studio album, Once More 'Round The Sun, that is slated to hit store racks and digital queues later this summer. Out on this trek across the states were two more thrash exports, Kvelertak, hailing from Norway, and Gojira, France's closest audio-kin to Mastodon.
There are only two words to describe this line-up and this show – heavy and thrash! Thrash metal is having a resurgence of sorts in the metal community, with Kvelertak at the forefront. The Norwegian six-piece doesn't play for the crowd, no, they play to the crowd, forcing them to swirl around and smash into one another … it's an inevitable by-product of their sound. As much as you may want to just stand in one spot and absorb their sound, it's impossible - the sawing, speedy guitar riffs and thunderously driving drums paired with the undiscernible wails from vocalist Erlend Hjelvik launches your body into the fray, whether you planned it or not. And by the end of their set, you're drenched, head to toe in your sweat, the band's sweat, and the sweat of everyone else in the pit … just as they intended.
Following in the wake of Kvelertak's thrash was the French monstrosity known as Gojira, a band that has been heavily influenced by their tour mates, Mastodon, as well as more technical heavy bands, like Meshuggah, The Red Chord and stalwarts, Death. Gojira are more technical death metal than either of the other bands on the bill, so their set was very industrial-sounding … heavy double-bass drums with chugging guitars, guttural vocals and pummeling breakdowns … a mixture that perpetuated the mosh pits Kvelertak kicked up opening the show. Gojira might have had the heaviest set of the night, with bass levels so low, every kick on the pedal reverberated in your chest cavity!
After Gojira finished their set, it was time for the mighty Mastodon to take the stage and satisfy the needs of the hundreds of fans who packed into Showbox Sodo on that Monday night. Stripping away all the gear from the previous two bands, the band's stage set up was simple – a backdrop of Orange stacks and the pristine drum kit of Brann Dailor, adorned with the artwork from The Hunter and accompanied by a hanging clown mask on the left-hand side. Once Troy, Bill, Brent and Brann took their spots on stage, the place erupted as they meandered their way into "Hearts Alive" off Leviathan, which was then followed by "Divinations" (Crack The Skye), and "Crusher Destroyer" from Remission. With those three songs leading off their set, I knew we were in for an amazing show! Seeing as this was the first show of the tour, no one really knew what to expect – I'd read an interview with Brann where he stated they weren't going to play much new material, instead they were going to dig deep into their catalog and play some tunes they normally don't – and they did exactly that, playing "Naked Burn", "Megalodon" and "Aqua Dementia" from Leviathan; "Capillarian Crest", "Crystal Skull", "Siberian Divide" and the instrumental jam, "Bladecatcher" from Blood Mountain; as well as "Oblivion" (Crack The Skye), "Black Tongue", "The Sparrow", "Octopus Has No Friends" (The Hunter), and "Trampled Under Hoof" from Remission. The two new songs they debuted are the two songs that are available for your listening pleasures as of right now – "High Road" and "Chimes At Midnight" – and both songs are fucking great, continuing on the same path as cuts from The Hunter, more heavy rock and a lil less thrash. After seeing this show, my appetite is ripe for a new Mastodon record … thankfully, June 24th isn't far off!
posted by Grady on Thu Jun 5, 12:13 PM
Crosses, the side project of Deftones main man, Chino Moreno, graced the Emerald City with their presence back at the beginning of April, and put on a great show! Not only is their record superb, but the live version holds up in every way to the studio versions. If you're unfamiliar with this latest project, just think new wave/goth, ‘80s synthesized musical landscape and Chino's unmistakable voice with less vitriol and more finesse. Joining Chino in this endeavor is Shaun Lopez, a fellow Sacto-native, and childhood friend of Chino's who played guitar for Far, and drummer Chuck Doom.
The band's original plan was to release a series of EPs, the first of which dropped in 2011, followed by the second one the next year. The final installment was supposed to be released in 2013, but due to unknown circumstances, the band held back and decided to release a full-length after signing with Sumerian Records. So, in February of this year, we were given this amazing album, Crosses (stylized as †††), and since then, it's been on non-stop rotation in my car and on my turntable! Once dates were revealed for their tour, I was all over our contact at Easy Street to get me into their show at the Neptune so I could witness it, and relay the magnificence to those who couldn't attend.
JMSN (pronounced Jameson) opened the show, and since I had no clue who he/they were, I made sure to arrive before they took the stage and got a close-up look at this intriguing artist. Imagine Justin Timberlake teamed with a solid rockin' rhythm section, and you get an idea of what JMSN sounds like. I was taken aback with the dude's vocals, as his appearance doesn't quite do him justice. He came out wearing thermal pants and an oversized black t-shirt with disheveled hair and a big, grizzly beard … not exactly the look of a smooth soul singer … but, once he stepped up to the mic and started singing, all those preconceived notions went out the window, as he danced and flailed around on stage. After his set, I ran into local rapper, Sadistik, and we gushed over how good this dude was. Sadistik came just to see JMSN, so mad props for being on top of that!
Shortly after JMSN, the lights dimmed and the backdrop glowed to life with three crosses hovering in front of a black curtain, signaling the crowd that the headliners were moments away from coming out. And soon, emerging from the shadows of stage-left, Chino, Shaun and the rest of the touring band came out to loud applause, hoots and hollers. Chino gripped the mic and got this huge grin stretching across his face as they laid into "Thholyghst," "This Is A Trick," and "Bitches Brew," the latter being the second single released, and one of my absolute favorites because it still has a taste of Deftones on the track (more so towards the end of the song, but it's definitely there, gnashing away!) From there, they played "Frontiers," "Blk Stallion," and "Bermuda Locket," before hitting another personal favorite, "Telepathy." The band incorporated at least three synthesizers during their set, and Shaun pulled double-duty as he went between synth and guitar all night, while their drummer played drums and synths simultaneously at times. Crosses not only intoxicated the crowd with their own material, but they also churned out a few covers as well – notably Prince's "The Cross" and "Goodbye Horses" from Q. Lazzarus, both of those songs preceding the closer, "The Years." This was such a killer show, and I was beyond pleased when all was said and done!
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