If you can get yourself up to Baltimore tomorrow night, I highly recommend seeing Spectrum at SONAR. The last time Pete Kember aka Sonic Boom brought his psychedelic freak-out troupe to the area they burned Velvet Lounge to the ground with their white-hot intensity. Their show last year was the single best set I have ever seen at the Velvet Lounge. The show featured some truly inpsired Spectrum originals, a few inventive covers, and of course some reinvented Spacemen 3 jams. I expect a repeat at SONAR.
w/ Screen Vinyl Image and Asteroid No. 4
4/14/11 – 8pm
All photos courtesy of Agalloch
On Monday, I drove up to Baltimore to check out Agalloch, rising stars in the American black metal scene. You know, I try to defend DC’s metal scene, but what does it mean when a critically acclaimed band passes us by? Are we not metal enough for a band from Portland? Are our local venues discriminating against the longhairs?
Anyway. I usually scoff at black metal as being too Satanic, too repetitive, or too grim – but Agalloch bring something unique to the genre, mixing in elements of folk (including acoustic and orchestral instruments), psych metal, and post-rock. It coalesces into something heavy and complex, something that rewards multiple listens. Despite some weak opening bands and a late set (running past 1am), I left the show sold on their vision for the future of black metal.
all photos by author.
Step right up folks. Here we have the genuine article. A regular nine-toed, Jim Beam soused, hard working, son of the South. Brought straight out of the backwaters of North Carolina and direct to SONAR Baltimore’s side stage to both bewilder and terrify you with his gravel voiced howls and suffocating sludge bass guitar. The wild man reputation of “Dixie” Dave Collins has preceded him for a decade and on Tuesday night I finally got to experience this force of nature front man for myself.
“Dixie” Dave fronts Weedeater, a Stoner Doom metal band with a sound that is a little more Southern-fried than most of their peers. Accompanying Collins on drums is Keith “Keko” Kirkum, an imposing mountain of a man who would look equally at home guarding the gates to Mordor with a giant war-hammer or roughing you up for the change in your pockets. On guitar is Dave Sheperd; tall, slender, eyes hidden beneath the brim of his camouflage cap; lurking in the background like your uncle’s weird hunting buddy or that unassuming neighbor that turns out to be a serial killer. All three of these guys look like they could deliver some serious damage with any assortment of WalMart supplied bows, shotguns, and lawn darts. Weedeater trade in their firearms for instruments every couple of years to cut an album and tour behind it, unleashing an entirely different type of punishment than the kind they delivered to Ned Beatty’s ass in “Deliverance”.
On Friday night, I took the MARC train to Baltimore, to meet my brother Marcus at SONAR, where we continued our brothers’ tradition of seeing Helmet in concert together every chance we get. Friday night was our sixth Helmet concert and Page Hamilton put on a casual but kick-ass show of guitar intensity that reminded us both why we’ve always held Helmet’s music in such high regard.*
Friday’s concert also featured two opening acts: Intronaut and Fight Amp. I have been digging on Intronaut’s albums for awhile now and this was my first chance to see them perform in concert. Fight Amp was an unknown element for me going into the show, but I had read some message board love for them that had me interested enough to show up early. To my surprise, Intronaut proved to be a disappointment and Fight Amp put on the more entertaining opening set.
Last Friday, Atari Teenage Riot performed on the Club Stage at SONAR in Baltimore. It was their only DC-area concert and one of their first shows in the United States since 1999. The world has changed quite a bit since this digital-hardcore terror cell was originally active and their reformation and reactivation in 2010 is as random and surprising as their debut was so many years ago. Their Baltimore show was a chance to see what Alec Empire and his crew have in store for audiences in 2010 and an opportunity to answer the obvious question surrounding ATR’s return. Why reactivate now?
The performance Atari Teenage Riot delivered on Friday night was an inspired evening of sonic brutality that was less about breaking new musical ground or politics and more about celebrating ATR’s and Alec Empire’s legacy in music. It was a blistering ear assault that revisited ATR’s original 1990’s noise-campaign and showed that even after eleven years the music world has still not completely caught up to their intensity or creativity.