Sunday, February 24, 2013

In Fidelity, Pissbath, Choking on Ash, Good Luck Varsity, Pray For Teeth, Cerce, Out of Time at the Owl Farm on 1/14

If you think that's a lot of bands, then you're absolutely right. 7 bands on a Monday night. No way I was going to miss it though, I'd been looking forward to seeing Cerce since one of my best friends/worst roommates showed them to me a year before. I wanted to see them so bad that I offered to pay the booking fee to bring them to Cafe Coco, but Chase Wilson of the Owl Farm crew beat me to the punch. Thank goodness, since I have absolutely zero experience in putting together or promoting shows, and would probably just ruin everything. So thanks Chase and everybody else at the Owl Farm, even if it was a lot of bands for one night it was still a hell of a show.

Anyway, let's get to the bands. First up was In Fidelity. These guys are local metallic hardcore heavy hitters who played either with no breaks and great transitions or one long song. Personally I hope it's the latter, but only because I adore extra long songs a la Dopesmoker and Absolutego. These guys had put on a really high energy show, with a lot of movement from every member. Vocalist Cooper Pemelton seemed especially restless, exploring the stage space in a manic pace back and forth, never really finding a spot to settle down in. This was possibly due to nausea, as he vomited more than once after the performance. Other members of the band assured me that this was an occurrence that happened somewhat regularly, and that I shouldn't be alarmed. His actual vocals were passionate and earnest, as though he was verbalizing his own personal tales of hardships and outrages, and how fed up he was about them. The rest of the band sonically supports this attitude very well, pondering the grievances during more subdued portions and lashing out during more aggressive passages. To me they have a varied hardcore sound, with bits of metallic hardcore somewhat similar to earlier  Converge, D-beat, and even a touch of sludge here and there. They even have some tasty post-metal moments, with soft parts building and crescendoing into heavier phrases. Overall, really infectious stuff that'll get your blood pumping. Check out their split with Chained on local label Spaghetti Spaghetti Records here, and look for their EP These Things I Can't Forget on the same label soon.

Next us was Murfreesboro shredders Pissbath. These guys are fucking rough! Screaming and  distortion galore. This shit is not for pussies. These Avalon House kids play their punk/hardcore music as distorted as they can (almost to the point of harsh noise at some points), and screamer Melissa Hurley holds nothing back. Some might be turned off by it, but my absolute favorite part of these guys is when they play so furiously that they start to come apart ever so slightly, as if their desire to be fucking raw and agressive takes precedence over the need to be bolt-tight. Their sound is tearing at the seams, and that's the way they like it. Talking to the band afterwards, they said that they were supposed to play the show with a bass player, but he ended up going to Florida, and despite saying that he'd make it back in time he was absent for the show. Bassist or no, these guys rocked. Check out their demo on guitarist and Avalon House aficionado's label/distro Primitive Prison:

Third up was what's quickly becoming one of my favorite local groups Choking on Ash. Featuring members of local crushers Yautja, Sacaea, Sky Burial, and a plethora of other Little Hamilton/Owl Farm-related bands, this group punishes in way that makes you beg for more. Ever since I heard their demo (below), I've been impressed with their work. It would be easy to just label this group stoner metal/sludge with screamed vocals, but to do so would miss some of the nuances that make this group great. Kayhan's guitars are sludgy enough, but the breakneck fast parts show that he's not resting on his laurels one bit. And what great tone! Like wearing a sharkskin condom with the rough side on the inside. I'm not sure it's represented enough in their demo recording, but the bass was really driving and even intricate at some parts at this show. I was impressed, I hope it comes through clearly whenever they put out an official release. Story's vocals - just, goddamn. Could they be considered black metal? I'd say they're pretty close. They definitely add another layer and texture which just fleshes out the band that much more. Drummer Ivan is a scene veteran and a beast at drums. Whether it's a beat every other second or frantic blasts, seems like he runs the gamut in this band. Check out their demo right here:

Fourth up was the first touring group, Good Luck Varsity, all the way from Detroit. If you're scratching your head and thinking "well that doesn't sound like a very hardcore name" then you're absolutely right. These guys are a pop-punk/post-hardcore group from Detroit. Seeing as they were the middlemost band of the night, I can't help but wonder if they were meant to be an intermission of sorts, seeing as most people went outside to imbibe their drink or drug of choice when they started playing. Sonically they're outside of my area of expertise, but once I got past the fact that they weren't heavy I didn't mind them. They were certainly competent, and had some pretty good vocal harmonies. Guitars were rather noodly and the bass was groovy. I relished the occasional scream. Someone lamented the fact that one guitarist was also using a laptop and the bass play was using a wireless pickup system, but I don't give enough of a fuck to be bothered by shit like that. I'm more bothered by the fact that these guys were playing this show at all. I wouldn't say that I wish I hadn't seen them, I just wish it wasn't at an overbooked show. Regardless, they still deserve a listen. Check them out:

Band number five was Pray for Teeth from Pittsburgh, PA. Their facebook page genre is listed as "No genres no masters", so I'm going to attempt to describe without using genre labels for as long as I can. It can be like charades! I give you clues, and you can call out the genre while you read. THREE WORDS. RHYMES WITH: Claymore Sheath. SOUNDS LIKE: Lumberjacks lamenting fallen forests. Echoes of unrest clamoring off of canyon walls. Feedback; ambient yet crunchy guitars and throaty yells. Pulsing bass and pounding drums. But enough with the poetry and shit. Sorry guys, I held off for this long, but I gotta throw around some genres. Still, these guys really don't fall into one specific group, so none of these monikers goes all the way in describing them, but here goes: I heard elements of post-metal (ambient sludge, if you're a purist) a la Isis and Rosetta, doom metal and sludge, hardcore, and even black metal, both atmospheric and regular flavors. I was especially impressed with Neal Dudash's vocals, whose hardcore shouts were almost powerful enough to be considered black metal screams. Watch this video about hot sauce of them recording material for their 7", streamable below the video and look for the vinyl copy coming out on It's A Trap! and Moshtache Records, as well as Root of All Evil Collective.

Band six was the moment we'd all been waiting for, the heavyweight championship fight we'd all come to see. In this corner, all the way from Boston/Philadelphia, weighing in at a gaunt 650 pounds collectively (that's an average of 130 lbs per band member for those of you who preprogrammed the answers into your TI-83 before tests), coming off of a 12-show winning streak, CERCE!! As I mentioned in the beginning, a friend of mine showed me these guys' bandcamp page, and I was intrigued. So much pink, but yet these guys had a wicked sound. Not much in the way of releases though... until they put up their self-titled 7". Lordy, this thing was a monster, and I wasn't the only one who thought so. On even the most contrary music forums, I saw a pretty strong positive response to this release, some even citing it as one of the best releases of last year. You can imagine my excitement at getting to see them play. And I was not disappointed. Raucous and explosive, they fuse an abrasive mass of sludge, hardcore, and powerviolence into an earthquake of musical transgression. The place was electric when they played, everyone in the crowd receiving the energy which the band put out with every pugilistic riff.  Once they began playing it was like going over the top of the first mountain of the biggest roller coaster at the park: all you could do was hold on to this ride hurtling around tight corners at breakneck speeds, and you knew that any signs of softening or slowing would only lead to bigger hills and more violent lurches. These guys shifted and accelerated like a hawk battling a falcon in midair, and deceptively pink-haired Becca Cadalzo had screams match. Her vocals, which are something of a focal point for this band, something that makes them stand out, were just as enthralling live as on record, screeching and crying out while guitars writhed and pounced beneath. As a total package, these guys succeed in earnestly expressing some pretty powerful emotion without sounding histrionic or patronizing. I can't tell you how excited I am that I got a hold of one of the last original pressings of their 7".
All together now: LET ME PUT THIS BODY TO REST
Before I link to their music and tell you to buy it, there's one issue that plagued this show that I think bears mentioning. Throughout the show, there was one girl who seemed way more animated than anyone else in the crowd. Hardcore dancing around, singing along with lyrics she may or may not have known, throwing her arms about. I'm not here to hate on any of that, hardcore shows are a great time to do whatever the fuck you want to music, including moshing and whatever else you feel. What's not okay is when you get so fucked up and out of control that you fucking PUNCH BECCA FROM CERCE IN THE FACE DURING THEIR SET. I apologized to Becca after the show for it, after she said she felt like an asshole for pointing the girl out for punching her in the face. Hardcore shows are rough, violent expressions are okay, but not if you're interfering with the band that you and everyone else paid to see.

In any case, Cerce put on a killer show despite encroachment, and you should buy their stuff.
Their 7" first pressing is pretty scarce, but a few of the 2nd pressing with Solidarity Recordings might be left. Look for their split with Stresscase coming soon on Mayfly Records soon! Till then, stream:

Last band of the night! I'm getting tired just typing this up. Band #7 was, ironically, Out of Time. Fighting out of St Louis, MO, these bruisers played meaty hardcore with a sludgy punch that hits you right in the gut. Vocals are shouted in the vein of oldschool hardcore punk, and fit the style perfectly. The drums were especially punchy live, and complemented the overall sound very well. A lot of people probably left after Cerce, but I'm glad I decided to stick around. These guys exemplify what solid, no-bullshit-all-pit hardcore should sound like. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself:

Whew! Another review under my belt. If you see any mistakes or things I left out, please contact me or leave a comment. In the meantime, I'm going back to studying biology like this:

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