Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Live Review #004: Eyehategod w/ Bacchus Baracus and Dune

Having seen three live shows in three days, I've decided to review all of them; one show per review. 

This one is the first of the three.

The problem, and perhaps also the crowning feature, of seeing several live shows on consecutive days is that it makes the few days feel like a very long journey indeed, and while I saw Eyehategod only a few days ago, it feels like a hell of a lot of time has passed since then. Fortunately, many elements of the show remain crisp in my mind; crisp enough, perhaps, to write a review of it. At the very least, I'll endeavour to write something, because by the time I left the venue, I'd certainly come to the conclusion that it had been one worth talking about.

I assumed that I was going to be a little bit late on arrival - I don't recall why, but whatever it was probably stemmed from the rule that everything takes longer than you think it will, even when you try to take into account the fact. Fortunately, I didn't miss much, owing to the friendly tendency of live shows to never quite start when anyone says they will, presumably due to exactly the same rule that I mentioned above. These two facts seemed to cancel each other out, and consequently, I arrived about five minutes into the first band's set. The band in question were relatively new sludge/doom outfit Dune, who play deliciously riff-laden material, of the variety which reminds you of that age-old wisdom; riffs are fun. On this night, the band seemed to sound especially good, filling the stage; perhaps the largest I've seen them on, with a confident presence, and managing to win the approval of the crowd, who, in a change from this stage of many shows I've seen, weren't asleep.  It's always good news when the first band on is met with more than jaded indifference from the audience, and for this purpose, Dune did a great job; warming up the crowd as an opening act should, yes, but also being an enjoyable portion of the evening in their own right, as opposed to being "that band" which most live shows seem to have at least one of; the band which is basically the "have a piss and buy a drink" band. With Dune, however, there was certainly an instance of the right support band at the right time; the energetic, sludgy riff-work acting as a hefty, bass-filled alarm-clock to wake up everyone who had turned up; already a very reasonable turnout, although, as it turned out, only about half of the people who turned up eventually.

Much like Dune, Bacchus Baracus play meaty sludgy goodness, once again, very appropriate to the headlining act. With an eye to the opening bands in general, it was pleasant to hear the  more energetic side of the local sludge/stoner/doom scene was very much being represented, which certainly worked well; whilst the slower, lumbering behemoths of the scene would no doubt have been enjoyable in their place, it's nice to have a bit more tempo of an evening, especially when, much to the very vocal dismay of Eyehategod later on, nobody seemed to have any drugs, let alone have brought enough for the whole class. Fortunately, both Dune and Bacchus Baracus play the sort of nippy, cruising sludge metal which you can enjoy a few beers to instead, while also being impressed that they have drummer who does the vocals, and well indeed. Bacchus Baracus are another band who sit solidly in the "fun" category of sludge metal, with a very tangible rocking, southern sounding edge to their music, reminiscent especially of certain eras of Corrosion of Conformity, and, once again, very appropriate to the general atmosphere of the evening. In terms of this specific performance, the band seemed to play a fairly similar set to the one they played when I last saw them, and at roughly the same level. Perhaps not a stand-out performance, or one which hit the spot perfectly, but undoubtedly rather enjoyable, and easily as solid as any band of the same calibre, or indeed, any of the other occasions I've seen them previously. 

By the time Eyehategod turned up on stage, it felt like very little time had passed at all. It's always enjoyable when a gig feels streamlined, and this one seemed to be a good balance; the support bands got a fair share of the stage time, but simultaneously, it didn't feel like an eternity before the main event of the evening began to unfold. The tone for the next hour was fairly well set by one of the Eyehategod guitarists arriving on stage with a piece of paper depicting a weed-leaf and the word "please?", brandishing it with relish and determination between songs. I'll be the first to admit that I'm less familiar with the bands material than I should be, but that didn't stop me from enjoying their set thoroughly, both for the music, and the aura of utter chaos which the band seem to trail in their wake. I've been to Ivory Blacks - the venue in which the gig took place - dozens of times, but I've never seen it quite so packed, or raucous. 

There was plentiful moshing, stage-diving and crowd-surfing at fairly frequent intervals, and with great success, owing perhaps to the fact that there really wasn't very much floor to end up upon - as far as I could tell, the venue was filled to the very back. I couldn't really see what was going on, at the front, either, but at some point somebody spewed, and later tidied it up by falling into it, rather politely, perhaps describing in one fell swoop the general energy of the crowd, particularly the fact that nobody was at all surprised. Generally, the gig did a great job of typifying the overt, but generally harmless madness which can ensue at a good metal show. All the while, through this chaos and lunacy, infectious and extremely loud riffs erupted through the backline with superb power and tone - I wish I knew the band well enough to recount which songs they belonged to, but I'll settle for exclaiming that each and every one was delicious, if a little deranged; These aren't the kind of riffs which you would trust to look after your house - in fact, they're the sort of riffs which other riffs are warned not to hang-out with, by their mothers. In fact, these riffs are downright narcotic, nasty, grimy, and thoroughly fantastic to listen to, making Eyehategod complete the evenings trinity of bands who really knew how to emphasise the fact that riffs are fun, which frankly can exist as a summary of the entire night; You could tell the band were enjoying what they were doing, and it's suffice to say that so were we, at times very vocally. The band played hardcore-edged sludge-metal of a vintage which only New Orleans can export so well, and perhaps only Eyehategod can play in the way that they do.

The gig ended as all gigs aught to; with everyone in the crowd feeling a bit knackared, but extremely pleased to have been present, and elated by the musical bombardment they had just received. I can safely say that, for being a band I went to see because I happened to be around that day, Eyehategod were a fantastic show to attend, and had I listened to their material more before hand, I would certainly have expected to enjoy the show as much as I ended up doing. With the look of someone who has been battered half-to-death by heavily distorted sludge-metal riffs, I wandered off home until the next show I'd be attending, which I shall be reviewing in the near future. 

...and so ended the first day of three.

Eyehategod Official Site
Eyehategod on Facebook
Eyehategod on Metal Archives 
Bacchus Baracus on Facebook
Dune on Facebook