Corrosion of Conformity–February 10, 2019–Bottom Lounge

One day I will learn not to drink four beers before the fucking show and then expect to remember much of the show at which I am also going to drink.  But today was not that day!

At least the COC/Crowbar show is a proper venue for just getting loose a bit.  That’s not to take away from the quality of their songs or the impact on their scenes, but this isn’t exactly Meshuggah-level intricacy going on here.  Go to the show, bang your head, wake up and hate being in your 30s.  Got it.

Showed up a bit late and missed Mothership, who I don’t know anything about, and now MAY NEVER KNOW.

Bottom Lounge gets sold the fuck out anymore.  It can be unmanageable when too crowded, with the bar at the entrance of venue area and the merch/bathrooms all the way across the sometimes-unnavigable floor.  People were pretty cool tonight though–maybe on my same vibe?–so even during Crowbar and COC you could still get from end to end.  Now sell 50 fewer tix per show, Bottom Lounge, you fucks.

Weedeater was the 2nd support act.  They are cool in a Zeke-ish way I suppose, but I’ve never been inspired to pick any of their stuff up, and am still not.  They covered Skynyrd’s Gimme Back My Bullets at some point, and Pepper walked out to help with the chorus.  Only it seemed like Pepper didn’t know much about Weedeater, because predictably their arrangement of the song was too fast and muddled.  So when Pepper tried to actually sing the chorus, his vocals didn’t fit with the too-fast-screamed-vocal version Weedeater was doing, causing Pepper to raise his eyebrows and do the slow-back-out.  My thoughts exactly.

My buddy asked me who was still in Crowbar as they were taking the stage, which was a good question.  Turns out Kirk is the last one standing, and this lack of consistency might be the culprit as to why COC eclipsed their NOLA counterparts.  But the comraderie in that scene always seem to shine through, and that happened again tonight.  Kirk and Pepper took turns breaking each other’s balls, and both are veteran frontmen that know how to keep the crowd’s attention and favor until the heavy hitters come in the set.  For me, Crowbar has fewer of them, but bookending the show with opener All I Had I Gave and closers Planets Collide/Like Broken Glass was smart and effective.  The consistent doom/hardcore line straddling of most of their catalog is engaging enough to bang your head throughout.  Can’t ask for more than that.  CROW-BAR.

The crowd was firmly there for COC though, and the celebratory air and multiple crowd participation sections in the show put that on firm display.  I came to COC through Down around the time America’s Volume Dealer came out, so the greatness of Deliverance and Wiseblood took a while to dawn on me.  Shit, Blind was the record we played most in high school.  In the Arms of God was the first new COC record that grabbed me, and it did so profoundly.  That was my favorite record of the year, and I have a strong emotional attachment to it. To hear It is That Way tonight, and to see the incredible crowd response behind it, was a moment of connection with the room that I wasn’t expecting.

Opening salvo of Stonebreaker and Wiseblood instilled a sense of momentum to the show at the outset, though I wonder if the crowd’s cheer for  Pepper’s offer of”something weird” would have been the same had they known it meant we got Born Again for the Last Time instead of Long Whip/Big America.  Dummies!  The staple is a staple for a reason!

The show fizzled a bit in the back half starting with Vote with a Bullet, a song people think they like until they realize it’s the first half of Blind that’s good.  Too much focus on slow tunes and America’s Volume Dealer material as well.  But then came set closer Albatross.  Any metal and stoner fan who doesn’t get at least half a tear thinking about this one is a sociopath.  The exultancy with which it was met by the Bottom Lounge crowd suggests that wasn’t a problem on this particular night.  Good thing too, getting stabbed sucks.

Closed out, of course, with Clean my Wounds.  Though it is a bit tired at this point, screaming “knock it down” with a couple hundred like minded idiots doesn’t get old.

A little rusty, a little uneven, but COC is undeniably that great live band you couldn’t believe the first time you saw them or heard Live Volume (which if you haven’t spun in a while, do it, damn that record is great).   Not even my hangover the next day managed to spoil that.

Chicago “Spring” Concert Preview

Chicago always takes a while to heat back up again, but a sparse January leads into one can’t miss show in February and then a packed March.  So for those of us who avoid the logical decision and don’t kill ourselves this winter, here’s what we have to look forward to:

Corrosion of Conformity/Crowbar–February 9–Bottom Lounge

Play Down songs.  Play Down songs.  Play Down songs.

Or just All I Had I Gave and Albatross.

 

Decibel Tour–Cannibal Corpse/Morbid Angel–March 4 Concord

I wasn’t a death metal fan yet when these two bands were coming up, but I have to imagine the debate between who was the best death metal band often came down to these two, particularly in discussing the Florida scene (fuck off Deicide; Death, fair play).  Looks like Corpse is going forward despite their guitar player apparently being a bath-salted doomsday hoarder crazy person, replacing him with Erik Rutan.  So…Rutan, get involved with Morbid Angel too?  Crossovers!

For real, as long as the rumors are true that MA will go back to playing pre-Formulas stuff on this tour, the lineup at this years Decibel Tour is stacked with good death metal and well worth it.

 

Clutch–March 13–Concord

I didn’t care for Book of Bad Decisions.  That doesn’t mean I’m gonna miss a fucking Clutch show, c’mon now.  The sets last year started to get a little weirder in a great way–Open up the Border?  Big News I and II?  50,000 Unstoppable Watts?  I’m in.

Hopefully on this trek they are passed the “9 new songs” stage and ready to go full 2003 Live in Flint with it.

 

Lucifer–March 21–Reggies

Johanna Sadonis is supposed to be a captivating figure in the live setting, and I wouldn’t doubt it based on the performances on the first 2 Lucifer records and the sadly one-album The Oath project.  Did you know the guitar player from The Oath, Linnea Olsen, has her own band as well now, Maggot Heart?  Lucifer and Maggot Heart are both worth your time.  I’d liken Maggot Heart to In Solitude playing garage rock.  But listening to both bands is a little heartbreaking, because you can see that the dynamism between Sadonis and Olsen is that little thing missing from the two solo projects.

 

Uncle Acid/Graveyard–March 26–Metro

Two bands on different trajectories.  I thought Graveyard was ready to crossover into what Greta Van Fleet is now (I guess?), but the last two records saw an unfortunate decline in memorable songs.  The opposite is going on in the Uncle Acid camp–The Night Creeper had Melody Lane, maybe their most immediate song, and Wasteland is excellent front to back.  Let’s hope Graveyard re-finds their form.  Maybe a more metal-tinged tour will be just the thing.

 

Baroness/Deafheaven/Zeal and Ardor–March 31–Riviera

I’m very interested to see Zeal and Ardor in a larger setting.  If the crowd is unfamiliar, it could be very weird at first, though I suspect (a) there will be enough hipsters in this crowd that a lot of people will know the band, and (b) the uninitiated will be won over quickly because Zeal and Ardor are amazing.

The Deafheaven hype turned me off enough that I haven’t listened to the last 2.  I did see them live recently.  And….they were still pretty ok; and non-descript; and would not be a thing if non-metal people didn’t jizz on Sunbather as if they knew anything about metal.

Baroness may never be that band we heard on Red again–the band of extended, insane guitar solos loosely wrapped up in song structures, the band that was immediate and intricate and harsh and accessible all at the same time.  But the current, classic rock version of the band is plenty worthy.  There was some edge back on Purple as well–The Iron Bell, anyone?  I think this is the first tour in full with the new line-up, so I’m interested to see what past eras of the band play to this line-up’s strengths.  So long as Baizley is at the helm, you can expect a good show and some great album/shirt designs to stare at while stoned.

Then we’re in April, and free!…after two more snow storms.