Archive for January, 2010

Moody @ The Jesus Lizard, The Metro, Chicago, 31/12/09

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , on January 28, 2010 by Noise Road

We’ll sit there just relaxing, while he’s bleeding from his ears…

That fecker’s had it coming, just shy of seven years

Or…

Moody @ the Jesus Lizard, the Metro, Chicago

 

This tale of salvation begins some 14 years ago, when a hapless 15 year old failed to raise the capital to check out his first big music festival.  That Big Day Out was the last opportunity I had to see the Jesus Lizard.  They did return to Adelaide a couple of years later to play an over 18’s show at the Tivoli – but the b_m fluff on my 17-year-old upper lip wasn’t fooling anyone as to my legality.

The Jesus Lizard broke up…  and I was imprisoned in a cubicle.

However in the last year of that dark decade, escape plans were being hatched.   Plans were firming for liberation and a new life in the UK by the end of April 2009…  and then the Jesus Lizard announced a reformation gig in the UK in May 2009!  Stars were aligning!

The visa came through.  A resignation notice was floated.  A one way fare to Heathrow was purchased…  and Jesus Lizard tix were booked…  But…  then the scheming warden outsmarted this simple inmate.  Prison authorities promised a 2+ year deployment to Spain, if inmate Moody just saw out another 6 months of his sentence.  The plane fare and the Jesus Lizard ticket went unused…  6 months passed and I found myself no closer to Spain.    

December came and I drew my first icy breath as a free man in old London town.  When I saw that the Jesus Lizard was playing a New Years Eve gig at the Metro in Chicago, no ocean could stop me.

 

Before the TJL gig, my visit to Chicago had been eventful to say the least.  There was a Xmas day incident with a Latin-King-backed drug dealer on the vacated downtown streets.  Less scarily there was a NFL game at Soldier Field won by the Bears in over time, metal burgers at Kuma’s corner, local stoner/prog bands at the Empty Bottle… and there was a lot of being cold.  A LOT of being cold, dude.

 

I wandered down to the Metro, on an unsurprisingly cold New Years Eve.  Wrigley Field is almost directly across from the Metro – so I paused to take in where the Illinois Nazis had thought Jake and Elwood lived, and the site of the curse of the billy goat.

The Metro is a theatre venue, with a large balcony.  It would have a smaller capacity than the Thebby back home, and it wasn’t as pretty as the London theatres.   But would you want to see the Jesus Lizard in a pretty theatre?  The music ain’t pretty.  David Yow certainly ain’t pretty.  It makes sense to see them in aging dirty theatre.  The place has character.

However character and solid acoustics are no excuse for $6 Miller Lites.  A couple of nights before, the Empty Bottle charged $2.50 for beers that I could actually stomach…  Anyways, after a couple of Miller Lites, Disappears punched out a solid half hour of alterno rock.

About a minute before midnight, The Jesus Lizard boarded the stage.  Shortly after climbing onto his kit, the drummer, Mac, began a low key countdown to midnight.  At the stroke of midnight, the band launched straight into the chorus of Seasick, and the front man, David Yow, hurled himself at the crowd.  The count went from one to Yow lying on the heads of punters.

Yow busted a lung earlier in the year doing this kind of gear, yet he still spent more than half the night on the punters heads.  His feet never touched the floor and he never missed a lyric.  The man is a glorious train wreck.  Half a century old, long hair and balding, the man was falling down drunk before he hit the stage. 

Yow brings a manic energy to the show which the packed floor couldn’t help but reciprocate…   But it only works as well as it does due to the tightness of the band behind him.  They are the straight men to his loose cannon.

 

Yow is definitely old school punk rock.  He isn’t what you would call a traditionally talented singer.  What he brings is a crazy energy to both the records and especially the live performance.  The band, however, are a talented bunch, who brought something different and new to the scene.  I don’t know what they call them these days – post-punk? noise rock?  Oddly-timed riffs stop-start on a dime with Duane Denison’s guitars over the top colouring the pieces….

The first track, Seasick, went in to Gladiator.   Man, the band was tight. I guess any possible cobwebs have been long blown out after several months of touring.

After 3 or 4 tracks, Yow climbed back onstage and asked if everyone was alright.  The question should have been posed to himself.  His eyes were barely open – he looked unstable on his feet.  The dude was sauced.

 

With no album out in the last decade, the band was free to play a best of set.  They reached back to all the albums except Blue.  Whatever your favourite Jesus Lizard track is, they played it – Glamorous, Blue Shot, Thumbscrews, Wheelchair Epidemic, Dancing Naked Ladies, Mouthbreather, Fly on the Wall, Puss….  After 70 sweat drenched minutes, with two short towel breaks, they encored with Blockbuster and Chrome.

This was not just a good performance for a band 15 years after their prime.  There are few bands around that can do a gig of this quality – a mix of tightness and manicness.  Energy and precision…  I heard that this might be their last gig.  I hope not.  Cos I think the Jesus Liard 2009 is more than just pleasant reminiscing.  I think this is something 2010 could use.

Moody vs Isis @Trix, Antwerp, Belgium 5/12/09

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , , , on January 21, 2010 by Noise Road

Not in Rivers, but in Drops…

Or

Moody vs Isis at Trix, Antwerp, Belgium.

5/12/09

 

This gig is what this blog is all about – capturing the experience of seeing awesome bands in exotic places.  Now I don’t where you’re from, but for a boy from Adelaide, Antwerp is pretty exotic.  It’s not exactly a weekend getaway from Australia…  And there is no doubt in my mind that Isis is an awesome band…. 

I didn’t know much about Antwerp going into the weekend.   I’ve never been to Belgium before.  I knew that Belgium had ridiculously strong beer from an unfortunate birthday back home at the Bar on Gouger St.  That night, we worked our way down from most alcoholic beers on their extensive menu.  Unfortunately the night kicked off with us doing 4 rounds of 12% Belgian beers and drinking them like they were the more standard Australian 4.5% variety.  Subsequently I behaved so poorly that I didn’t feel comfortable showing my face back at that bar for 12 months. 

But apart from that, I was flying blind on Belgium…  Jean Claude Van-Damme?…  I got nothing.

Did you know that mussels are a speciality in Belgium?… The Muscles/Mussels from Brussels works on multiple levels, dude.  Just like Jean-Claude works on multiple levels… well maybe not.

The first impressions of Antwerp weren’t awesome.  An Air France prop across the water from London.  And no way to get to the city from the airport except for a lone taxi, complete with an ultra racist driver. 

 

But luckily the first impression was wrong.  It’s a cool town with lots of contrasts.  A beautiful old centre on the river, big crazy @rse cathedrals containing works of a major artist.  The largest orthodox Jewish quarter in Europe….  This is contrasted with a seedy, seedy red light district that I stumbled onto, on my way back to the hotel.  Sure Moods.  You stumbled on it.  Right.

I learnt from my experiences on Gouger St, and took it slow on the Belgian beers. De Konnick is the local brew.  But all the Belgian beers were good… and strong. 

 

I also had great food during my stay – mussels (because of the whole JCVD epiphany) and waffles.  But I think I did hit a misfire with the local culinary delights.  Look, it may not have been the Flemish stew that led to later stomach pressure issues at the Isis gig.  I have had stomach issues post long-haul flight before.   I’m sure no wants to hear again about my stomach’s violent oscillations between chronic constipation and explosive diarrhea in North-West Spain last May.

Anyway by the time I finished my first beer at the Isis gig, I was wondering if there was nothing but phlegm in my Flemish stew.  My guts were in rough shape.  I bought 5 tokens for beers for the evening.  But because of the guts situation I could only use two.  And there’s no refunding those suckers.  They were hard enough to get in the first place with the language barrier.  There’s a lot of English language in Belgium – just not with this bartender.  The fault is of course on my side.  I’m a visitor in their country – and I had insufficient Flemish to get what I wanted.  However, I can tell you that I definitely had sufficient Flemish in my guts. 

So I walked the kebab mile from my hotel to the venue.  Seriously I’ve never seen a higher density of kebab shops in the world.  That being said I haven’t been to any Arab countries – but they’ve now got something to live up to.

The Trix looks like a newish venue.  After seeing the spectacular Hammersmith a couple of days before, in comparison the Trix is a performance space rather than a theatre.  It’s a mid-size venue bigger than Fowler’s in Adelaide – but with a smaller capacity than somewhere like HQ . 

I’m always interested to see differences in crowds for bands from country to country.  You know the crowd for a Napalm Death gig in Japan is a lot different from a Napalm Death crowd in the UK.  But I think a crowd for an Isis gig is probably the same anywhere in the western world.  Isis fans straddle the line between alterno’s and stoner metal dudes.  Lots of Mastodon, Neurosis and Converge t-shirts.  Lots and lots of beards.

Moods, let’s get on to it, already….

Moody vs Keelhaul

 

Keelhaul opened up proceedings.  Keelhaul ain’t gonna win any beauty contests, but man do they bring the riffs.

A lazy man would lump them in the huge pile of stoner.  So I guess that I’m a lazy man.  A lot of their set was in that early Mastodon / High on Fire riff-heavy, stoner metal area.  They had a bit of the more straight-up Melvins stuff circa Houdini going on too.  More than half of the set was instrumental.  And despite the riff onslaught there was room for variety – one number even had somewhat of a country tinge.

I enjoyed the set…  and so did the Belgian beardo’s.

Moody vs Circle

 

Describing Circle’s set is no easy feat.  It was a pretty unique show, bordering on performance art.  The keyboardist appearance alone was a piece of performance art – with his fisherman’s hat, moustache and leather pants.

Cirlce started in a repetitive psychedelic mode – music to trance out to…   To my surprise, the Belgian Beardo’s weren’t onboard for it.  I would have thought that an Isis crowd would have been up for something like that, but a good section of the crowd returned to the bar.  It was a Saturday night, I guess.  Drinks need to be drunk – probably even more so when it’s tasty Belgian beer.

The Circle set then morphed into keyboard-heavy symphonic metal.  Growly vocals were supplied by the bass player, followed by operatic/gypsy-ish vocals from the keyboard player.  I assume he was singing in Finnish – I haven’t really kept up with my Finnish lessons lately.

The backbone of the performance was the drummer and the guitarist.  They were the straight men of the piece. The drummer in particular was impressive – displaying how much energy you can output from a small kit.

The set then took another change.  Things got a little weird.

Whilst the guitarist and drummer kept plugging away, the bass player ceremonially play-beheaded the keyboardist with his bass…. But then the power of building psychedelic music brought him back to life…. From this point on, rejuvenated by the music the moustached keyboardist proceeded to do a series of tai chi poses.  The band continued to build, and the keyboardist poses became more and more severe.

I don’t know what their records are like, but I would jump at the chance to see that show again.  It was pretty different, dude.

Moody vs Isis

 

I’ve been a big Isis fan since Oceanic was released.  I liked the following 2 releases, Panopticon and In Absence of Truth – but I don’t think they were quite as strong.  There are points in In Absence where they almost seem to stall in the long ambient/quieter passages – like they’ve noodled off to far away.

Their latest, Wavering Radiant (WR), in comparison has a forward momentum throughout the album – a groove.  I think it’s their most consistent to date.  Perhaps the biggest evolution is in Aaron Turner’s voice.  We all know the dude can roar like a lion, but in the quieter passages his singing has traditionally been low in the mix.  On WR, his voice is far more upfront.  His melodic singing sounds a lot stronger.

I saw Isis 4 times on the tour cycle for In Absence.  The sets then, whilst In Absence heavy, featured tracks from the all the previous 3 albums.  There are a couple of crushing songs from Oceanic that always got the crowd going.

So keeping that in mind, I was expecting a set that was WR heavy, but that featured the strongest tracks off Oceanic and In Absence.  And I was excited at that prospect.  They’ve got such a wealth of material now – how could it not be an awesome set?  But it definitely wasn’t a best off set.

They played nearly all, if not the entirety of WR.  There were approximately 3 non WR songs.  The highlight of the non WR material being Holy Tears.  So the only disappointment for me for the evening was that I would have loved to hear some Oceanic in the set.  But I guess they’ve got bored of playing those tracks every night for 5 years.

Even sans Oceanic, this was the strongest that I’ve seen Isis.  And I think the reason is the difference in material.  Like on the album, Aaron Turner’s singing voice is far higher in the mix and there is far more of it during the set.  Those vocals on the album aren’t studio trickery – his melodic voice is good.  I don’t know if it is a confidence thing, or if it is something that he has been working on – but it definitely adds to the Isis dynamic.

 

As always the Isis’ tracks build and build, until the Aaron Turner is roaring like a lion on the microphone with a wall of sound behind him.  The added vocal melody in the quieter/ambient passages as the song builds, adds to pay-off when the band finally does let loose.  You can see it in the crowd – slight head nodding becomes a full body swing.

Isis gets shyte from a lot of metal fans for being “too boring”.  And many alternative fans aren’t willing to get onboard because the vocals in the heavy passages are too harsh…  But I think if anyone still sitting on the fence sees Isis in this cycle, they will be converted.  The material is the strongest yet and the band is one at the peak of its powers.

But I haven’t got time to be hacking away at these words.  Nor do I have time be sitting in a hotel toilet in Antwerp, exorcising these Flemish stomach demons.  I’ve got a reformed Alice in Chains gig at the Brixton Academy to get to back in London….

Moody vs Taste of Chaos at Hammersmith Apollo, London 3/12/09

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by Noise Road

Scream for me, London!!!!….

SCREAM!!!!!…..

Or

Moody vs Taste of Chaos Tour at Hammersmith Apollo, London

3/12/09

At the end of November, I was still living a life of serfdom in Australia…  but time waits for no slave.

I’m putting in my two weeks’ notice….

As of two fecking weeks ago

A resignation, farewell drinks and a 2-day hangover later, I rode a couple of Singapore Airlines birds and was in London by the morning of the 3rd of December.  After 21 hours air time, plus 5 hours layover in Singapore, a very tired body hauled his handsome @rse over to the famous Hammersmith Apollo for the Taste of Chaos tour that evening.

On the bill for the evening were Maylene and the Sons of Disaster, Every Time I Die, In Flames and Killswitch Engage.   Apart from Maylene, I can’t say that I follow any of these bands closely…. So why did you go then, Moods?  Well I dig Maylene.  And I jumped at the opportunity to see anyone play at the famous Hammersmith Apollo.

I’d first heard about the Hammersmith from live recordings there by Motorhead and Iron Maiden.  I’m sure you can all hear in your head Bruce Dickinson yelling to the Hammersmith crowd…

Scream for me, London!…  SCREAM!!!

It’s a beautiful old style theatre, with a massive balcony and a steeply sloping floor – much steeper than the Enmore in Sydney.  It’s also a bigger room than the Enmore or the Thebby in Adelaide – but it still has excellent acoustics.  I can’t complain about the sound for any of the bands for the evening.  The acoustics were good.   The mixes were good.  And with the steep slope, I had a great view from the middle of the floor.

The whole organisation of the night was fantastic.  A maximum changeover of 25 minutes between each band – and they still managed to have great sound.  4 bands for the evening and it was all done before the tube finished running.

Moody vs Maylene

 

So…  Maylene and the Sons of Disaster is my favourite Christian band…  they are also the only Christian band that I like.  And there’s no doubt that Jesus is still alright with these boys.  With lyrics like….

The older I am;

The less feeling I have without the gospel

There’s no avoiding it.  They’re Jesus freaks.

And on top of that there is definitely a “metalcore” element to the first 2 albums.

Jay-Cee loving metalcore???….  And you like this band, Moods???….

I first heard of Maylene when they played with 63 Stone a couple of years ago in Adelaide.   At that gig, they sounded heavy and southern.  There was not much melody discernible.

63 Stone’s low end fiend, Stavros, then pushed Maylene’s first 2 albums my way.  The albums sounded far more melodic – like southern tinged metalcore.  I do have a bit of trouble with some metalcore bands that do the gruff vocals, followed by hooky melodic choruses.  It can come off as cheesy or commercial to my ears.  Each to their own – but in general, that’s not this cat’s bag.

However Maylene are my bag.  I don’t know if it’s the southern thing.  But I love tracks like Gusty Like The Wind – and that track definitely has that gruff verse/hooky chorus thing going on.

At the Hammersmith, they sounded less heavy than they did back at Fowler’s in Adelaide.  I don’t know if that’s due to the difference in the sounds of the venues.  That tiny room with two ear-bleeding speakers at Fowlers has altered many a band’s sound.  They also didn’t sound particularly metalcorey.  They just sounded like heavy southern rock.  It was great.

All 6 of them boarded the stage looking awesomely redneck – checkshirts and excellently dense beards.  The frontman is a skinny, skinny man with a mass of hair.  I can’t remember him having such an awesome project beard what I caught them in A-Town.  The drummer has an excellent beard too – bald on top, with a massive beard.  Looking at the drummer, I began to wonder if I was looking 5 years into the future.  Is it time to commence my own project beard?

The frontman is skinny to the point of looking like a junkie.  He also rambles like a man high as a kite.  I like his vibe – he’s got that whole Layne Staley /Scott Weiland waifish rock junkie thing going on…  except I assume he’s pretty much straight edge.   I spose Jesus was skinny and had a beard.  Don’t know if he played heavy southern rock though.  I don’t think the bible explicitly states it either way.

I haven’t heard the last Maylene album – but I know the first 2 pretty well.  And there seemed to be a pretty even spread between all the albums on the night.  They played the standouts from the first two albums – Gusty Like the Wind, Memories of the Grove, Dry the River, Wylie…  and a few songs that I didn’t know which I assume are from the latest record.

So I really enjoyed the 30 min set.  But it’s got to be said there was very little crowd reaction.  Most of the crowd wasn’t on the floor yet – and the ones that were there, weren’t there for Maylene. 

Moody vs Every Time I Die

 

So of all the bands on the bill, I knew ETID the least.  I’ve seen that Teen Wolf video.  And I know that they’re good friends with Dillinger – so I was willing to give ‘em a chance.

They are definitely faster/rockier/hardcorier than Maylene.  The vocalist has that hardcore/Bronxy style.  But they do have that southern tinge in common with Maylene.

I’ll give them their dues – they bring a lot of energy to their set.  The drummer gets out of his seat a lot.  The vocalist does that awesome Roger-Daltrey-swinging-of-the-microphone thang.  And both the vocalist and the guitarist do that spit and catch back in the mouth thing. … Although I’m not sure I’m onboard with the whole spit and catch caper…  it’s kinda gross, dudes.

ETID received a much better crowd reaction than Maylene – I don’t know if it is because they are better known, or because they are more hardcorey, or because their show is more energetic .  I liked Maylene the most for the evening – and they got nothing from the crowd…  But ETID are energetic and good fun.   I would go see them again.

Moody vs In Flames

 

So I wasn’t 100% sold on In Flames going on.  Stavros pushed the last couple of albums my way, and I thought they were good.  But that whole gruff verse/melodic chorus thing was a bit of a barrier for me getting too enthusiastic about them.

But having said that – live… it works.  They came off as heavier and less melodic.

Stavros said that they would be tight.  And tight they were.  And as this was their last run of dates for two years, I’m glad I got the opportunity to see ‘em.

There was a reasonable amount of songs that I did know and songs that I didn’t know – so it would seem that they reached reasonably deep into their back catalogue.  The front man, Anders, pulled a kid with a camera out of the front row and up on to the stage to film an old song.  Anders asked the kid to post it on YouTube the following day.

All those years I spent near the front row, how come no one ever asked me to board the stage?  Maybe because all the bands I went to see back in the day hated their own fans – Patton, Melvins.  Also  I  suppose the fact that I never owned a camera until just before my 29th birthday last year, doesn’t help…. but still …  All I’m saying is that the emo-fringed, Killswitch-Tee-wearing b@st@rd was lucky…  they let that kid stay on the stage for the remainder of the set – and even gave him a beer.

Anders is a good front man.  Good presence.  He’s a mass of dreads bouncing around.  He’s kinda funny too…  in an awkward Swedish way. 

So a great tight set – The kids loved ‘em too.  There was lots of energy in the room.

Moody vs Killswitch Engage

 

So I’ve heard KSE’s Alive… Or Just Breathing.  I didn’t mind it at the time.  But look I’ve never had strong feelings either way on them. 

So you’ve got to give it to a band who has a band uniform of Joey Jeremiah tux t-shirts.  But here also lays my major beef with the performance.  I take pretty much anything Kerry King says and dismiss it.  But in regards to the guitarist from Killswitch – he’s right.  The guitarist is just too silly.  It’s distracting.  I mean it’s funny that he wore a tutu with his tux t-shirt – but then he runs around like a girl for the whole performance.  He wags his tongue at the crowd or purses his lips every 20 seconds.  It’s too much – to the point where it annoys.

I’m all for peeps having fun onstage.  I’m all for Patton drinking crowd-provided urine.  I’m onboard for Dillinger’s Greg Puciato sh!tting on stage…  I’m down with the silly dress ups.  But the whole night, dude?  Just let me listen to the music and not be put off by your lameness. 

But they performed well.  They were tight…  The kids loved them.  They circle pitted and had plenty of sing alongs….  But the other three bands were better.  And after seeing them, I don’t think I would go to a KSE gig, if there wasn’t a better band on the bill with them.

The night ended with the sponsor handing out free drinks.  Not a good promotional move.  If the word gets out how bad Rockstar Energy drink tastes, their business is fecked.  Man, that shyte was free and I had still had to ditch a half full can of it when I changed tube lines. 

Anyways I’m very glad that I managed to haul my jet-lagged @rse over to the Hammersmith.  It was  an entertaining night…   in a legendary venue….  on the other side of the world.

Now on to Antwerp.. . and Isis!

Welcome to Noise Road

Posted in About with tags on January 18, 2010 by Noise Road

The aim of Noise Road is to write about the experience of seeing great bands in as many different places around the world as possible. 

With my descriptions of the sounds and travels, I want to entertain and inform.  So even if you don’t love the band I’m reviewing, I want people to be interested to read about the experience of the city and the gig.  You may not be as big an Isis fan as I am, but you may be amused at my struggles through the red light district and kebab shops to get to their show in Belgium.

I also want to inform people of anything interesting that happened during the gig. Is the band in good form?  What kind of set are they playing at the moment?  When they next come to my town is it worth catching them?

The idea first came together when on the way to Eastern Europe at the end of 2008, I was lucky enough to catch the Mike Patton and Melvins curated ATP festival in Minehead, England.

Then in May 2009, my employer in Australia sent me to Spain for 2 months.  So I had the opportunity to do plenty of weekend travelling through Spain and Portugal – including a mission to the Primavera Sound festival in Barcelona.

Being a bit of a story teller, I couldn’t resist sending the electronic mails back home to my mates about the gigs and the travelling.

So I started to think, how cool would it be to see Meshuggah in Sweden?  The Hold Steady in the twin cities?  The Wacken Open Air Festival?  And I don’t know…  anyone in Latvia?

My long service pay out came up.  My UK visa papers came through…  And here we are. 

Join me, won’t you?