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.