Pentagram at Jaxx

This isn’t really a full review of the concert, it was 2 weeks ago now, and I had been drinking a bit at this concert too so I decided not to review it. Due to a hangover I didn’t get all my photos and videos from the evening posted on time, then they just got kinda put on the back burner, but I finally got them all sorted through and ready to display today. Ol’ Scratch was setting up when I got to Jaxx. Everything must have been running late because I didn’t think I’d be able to get there in time to see them. I’d heard good things about them before and I like their latest album, the Sunless Citadel too. They weren’t the first band to play but they were a perfect local opener for this kind of show. They have more energy than a lot of doom bands, but that’s not a bad thing. They also have a lot of beards! I recorded 2 of their songs, one of which is embedded at the bottom of this post. I don’t know the name of that song so if you do please let me know so I can update the listing. Earthride was on next but they didn’t really hold my interest and that’s when the beers started flowing! They are most known for having the bass player from Spirit Caravan on vocals, but they just sounded rather generic to me, nothing I hadn’t heard before. By the time Gates Of Slumber came on I’d run into some old friends and was rambling away most of the set. I do like them and I’ll have to see them the next time they come around (sadly they’re dropping off the Weedeater tour before they come to DC9 in April). By the time Pentagram got on stage Jaxx was pretty packed. I don’t know if it was a sell out but it was certainly a good sized crowd and you could tell Bobby Leibling was happy to see so many people came out to support him in what is basically his home town. They put on a good show, though they didn’t play Buzz Saw, a personal favorite of mine. However, they did play 2 new songs from an upcoming release that is yet to be recorded. I actually video taped both of these songs, I’m Takin No More and South Of The Swamp and have put them on YouTube (just click their names to see/listen, the visual quality isn’t the best because it was so dark, but the audio isn’t bad). This might be the first time those 2 songs were played live in front of an audience since this was the first show of the tour. There were people of many different age groups all coming out to see the local very-old-school doom legends Pentagram and they really did put on a fun show (and it wasn’t just the beer making me think that). I can’t wait to get to see them again on day 3 of Maryland Deathfest this May. Well, sorry it’s taken so long to get all this stuff posted (the show was on Friday 15 January 2010), but you can see the pictures I took on Flickr here and the videos I shot on YouTube here. Enjoy! Oh, and if you’ve got a review, pics, videos or whatever else from this show, feel free to link to it in the comments section of this post.

Review of Jucifer gig at the Black Cat

On Monday night the 11th of January 2010 I headed over to the Black Cat in Washington DC to watch a couple metal bands play their backstage, Jucifer and Salome. I’ve been to the Black Cat many times over the years, but it’s pretty rare for them to get metal bands that are actually worth seeing, they primarily specialize in indie/modern rock and punk. I always try to make it to their metal shows with actually good bands, and tonight was no exception as I wanted to see both bands on the bill.

I got there around 9:40pm and although their website said Salome started at 9:00 and the Black Cat’s Twitter feed said 9:30, the woman taking money to get in said it was actually set to start at 9:45. Perfect timing! I was a little surprised to find their vocalist, Katherine Katz, standing in the middle of the crowd when the show started. She never did get on the stage and instead paced around back and forth throughout the set throwing her hair around and posing during her more lengthy outbursts. She’s a very petite girl but you wouldn’t know it when she’s screaming into that mic. They only played a few songs but they were long songs with a diverse range, going from faster paced Black Sabbath-esque riffs then grinding to a halt at certain points, the entire band actually going motionless for brief periods of time. Then they’d burst back to life amid pummeling drums and lurching downtuned guitar riffs. They are from Annandale and are probably Northern Virginia’s best doom metal band. You can also hear Kat on vocals on the latest Agoraphobic Nosebleed album, Agorapocalypse. Salome had opened for Jucifer’s three previous shows and this was the final gig they’d play together this winter. They played for a little over 30 minutes and were a great local opening act for Jucifer, who was up next.

After going to the red room to buy myself a cheap PBR draft, I was looking at the imposing speaker rig that Jucifer had on stage. They are known for how loud their concerts are, though I’ve seen several bands known for that before. The show was certainly very loud, the loudest I’ve ever heard at the Black Cat and that includes the upstairs main stage too. They weren’t the loudest small venue band I’ve ever heard (that’s probably Sunn O))) last Sept) but still, it was an impressive set up for the tiny space in the Black Cat’s back room. Jucifer is a husband and wife duo who travel around in their RV essentially constantly touring. The show started with Amber Valentine playing some notes on the guitar while the fog machine started to kick in. After about a minute Edgar Livengood slinked behind the drum kit and started whacking away. These two really put out a lot of energy, both playing their instruments very loosely. Edgar was smacking every part of the drum kit he could, not just the skins. Sometimes he’d use two drum sticks in one hand, sometimes he’d stand or jump up and shake the whole kit while he was banging so hard, and sometimes he’d use his bare hands to smack things. Sometimes Amber seemed to pick her notes very carefully, and sometimes she was sitting on the floor playing what can loosely be called a ‘chord progression’ on her guitar. They didn’t pause between any of their songs and music just sort of flowed forth like a volcano, sometimes more explosive and chaotic and sometimes slower and more focused. The two switched off on the vocals throughout the set until eventually Amber was singing in the dark for a good minute or two and the show ended. They gave each other a hug and kiss then started turning off all the amps as people filed out. $10 for 2 great bands was a great deal and if you get a chance to catch either of these bands live I certainly recommend checking them out.

Review of Behemoth gig at Jaxx

So Friday the 8th of January 2010 I went to Jaxx in West Springfield, Virginia, to see the Polish blackened death metal band Behemoth play. Well, this was actually the first time I’d been to Jaxx since I saw God Dethroned play there back in October. A lot has changed with the look of the club since then, but I’ll get into that later, this is a review of the Behemoth concert after all.

I got there kind of late and didn’t get a chance to see any of the openers, Septic Flesh had just finished their set as I walked in the door. I’d have watched them play but really I’d have liked to see Shining, who was originally on the tour as well only to drop off due to visa complications. The parking lot was completely full and even the lot in front of the Giant across Old Keene Mill had a lot of cars parked in it for the show. Although it sucked parking so far away (the temp was in the lower 20s) it was good to see such a turn out for the show. The last few metal shows I’d been to at Jaxx didn’t have really big crowds. This night the entire club was pretty crowded, which made it kind of stuffy and hot with my coat on, but it was bearable and nowhere near as bad as that sold out Morbid Angel/Behemoth show in 2006 when the air conditioner didn’t work. After what seemed like a very long drum kit set up and sound check, the lights finally went down a few minutes after 11pm as Behemoth took the stage.

They came out onstage and the crowd was ready. People were excited as the band ripped through songs from Evangelion and Demigod. The last time I saw Behemoth play they were opening for Dimmu Borgir at the 9:30 Club and they didn’t play many songs from older albums, which is of course what I wanted to see. Not that I don’t enjoy their newer material, but I certainly prefer some of their older less polished sounding songs. Now I knew they wouldn’t play anything like Lazy Pomorza, but I was glad to hear them play 3 songs from the Satanica album (instead of just the staple Chant For Eschaton 2000). They only played 1 song from Thelema.6 though, Christians To The Lions. Regardless, the show was a pretty decent mix. Certainly more focused on more recent material but not completely forgetting their older songs either. One thing I wasn’t expecting was a killer (but short) drum solo by their drummer, Inferno. It only lasted about a minute but it was pretty impressive. They did do the generic encore thing, which was kind of weird since the back stage area is much more open now. Behemoth’s main man Nergal came out with some sort of Roman centurion looking wooden or metal (hard to tell in the lighting) mask as they played their final song of the night, Lucifer. Kind of strange I suppose but better than that weird ‘evil teddy bear’ mask he put on for the final song last time I saw them. The show ended about 15 minutes after midnight and people started filing out into the cold right after, though the merch stand was really busy for a while.

After the show I hung out a few minutes because I didn’t want to deal with the herd of people all heading out to the door at once. It gave me a good chance to check out some of the changes to the club’s interior. The walls have all been painted orange, though the ceiling is still black. They got rid of the bar on the side by the merch stand which opens up some more room for the under 21 people. The big black drapes that hid the backstage area from the audience have been completely removed, which really makes the room seem bigger. The raised bar area around the dance floor has had new railing put in that looks much nicer, though you can’t really notice it when it’s darker. It looks like the lighting rig has had an update too. There were some new lights that looked sort of like LEDs or something, as well as a couple things that looked like rotating balls of laser pointers (not too impressed with those, hope they didn’t cost much). The club certainly does not look like a hive of scum and villainy, and comes across much more welcoming, organized and professional looking. This change certainly helps the club move past being just a ‘metal club’ to a venue that can host concerts in several genres. A part of me wonders if they’re trying to phase out the metal all together, but I think if they get more head counts like this they won’t be phasing out the metal any time soon. The place has sure come a long way since the owner posted on their website about possibly trying to sell the place in January 2008.

Not everything was an improvement though. I don’t know if it had to do with changing the shape of the interior space or maybe just a bad ear during the sound check, but the audio mix during Behemoth’s set was terrible. The vocals kind of mushed into the midrange guitar parts and the high end tones were getting drowned out by the kick drums. It didn’t seem to me that any of the audio equipment had really changed, though I really don’t know for sure. Hopefully it was just a fluke as I’ll be back to Jaxx this Friday to see Pentagram and The Gates Of Slumber. Also, though the lighting seemed to be upgraded, it’s almost all backlighting. This makes it hard to see any of the band members (besides the drummer in the back) when the spotlight isn’t on them. As you can see in the video below, most of the time they just appear as silhouettes. The stage sure is lit up, but the band members aren’t (at least not on the side facing the crowd). Combined with the fog machine, it was starting to look like just a big blur of stage lights. I’ll be interested to see what the place looks like for Kreator in March as they bring some great stage lighting with them. Overall the changes aren’t bad at all, though I’m sure some of the more die hard metal heads who have been going there for a while will take some time getting used to it.

New Dying Fetus Video On MySpace Metal

Local death metal band Dying Fetus premiered a new video for their song Your Treachery Will Die With You on MySpace Metal today. This is the first track on their latest album, Descend Into Depravity, which was released in September 2009. WordPress apparently won’t let me embed videos from MySpace (lame) and since I don’t see it on YouTube yet I can’t embed the video here. You can, however, see it on MySpace here:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=102004204

The video is the second for a song from Descend Into Depravity, and honestly I think the first one, Shepherd’s Commandment, was better. The new one is sort of a “band playing in a room” video, where the first had a kinda cool Ang Lee split screen thing going as well as a storyline with characters. Still, it’s worth checking out and the song is pretty kick ass too.