On Sunday the 18th of September I had two shows I was trying to catch live. The first was a special free show that the Frederick, Maryland based band Clutch was holding at the Red Palace. This show was listed as a special five song acoustic set that was part of a promotional “release party” for their own beer, Clutch Dark Sour Ale, from New Belgium Brewing. The show was originally scheduled for Monday August 29th but it was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. This night everything seemed to work out ok though. The people from the Colorado based craft brewery, most famous for their Fat Tire Amber Ale, were mingling in the audience who had gathered. I have bought a few of the Clutch beers already, and they’re actually pretty damn good. They’re dark but with a sour taste that builds up the further you get into the 22 oz bottle, sort of like how some spicy foods’ heat builds up with the more of it you eat. It’s not a fruity sour though and is not actually very sweet at all (which I think is a good thing). I recommend trying it if you can find yourself a bottle. At this concert however, they were selling the bottles for $20! I still had a bottle in my fridge at home that I bought for $7.99 at Total Wine so there was no way I was going to fork out that much cash just to drink one at the Red Palace. Hell, even Clutch’s Neil Fallon said on stage that he was drinking a competitor’s beer.
The show started with the one of the guys from New Belgium Brewing taking the mic on stage and introducing the band as well as presenting them with the bottle that had serial number 10001110101. That’s the name of one of the songs on Clutch’s 2005 album Robot Hive/Exodus. The guys then went into their setlist, starting off with and “acoustic” version of The Regulator. While guitarist Tim Sult played an acoustic guitar, they were all using pick ups, pedals and amps, so don’t think this performance was something like those old MTV Unplugged specials. What made the show cool was that the Red Palace only holds about 200 people, and Clutch is a band that usually plays much larger venues, they had just played at the HFStival the day before at Merriweather Post Pavilion. However this night the band played their five song set and pleased the crowd by having Tim plug in his regular guitar before playing a new song, apparently titled Newt. They played a few more songs, sort of a best hits style thing with songs covering their back catalog and ending with Elephant Riders. In all they played for about an hour and it was a fun show and a great chance to catch Clutch up close.
When Clutch had finished I didn’t linger around for too long since I had another show to catch at the Velvet Lounge. I made a stop at the 9:30 Club‘s basement bar for a quick bite to eat just before they closed their kitchen. Apparently they had some Mexican band playing upstairs named Molotov, but luckily the 9:30 Club has a separate door on the side of the building you can enter the bar at if you don’t want watch the show. The bartender down there was wearing a Clutch shirt and he said he was pissed he had to work that night because he had wanted to see the show at the Red Palace. Anyways, I had a nice panini and an organic oatmeal stout and then I walked around the corner to the Velvet Lounge.
The Velvet Lounge had a pretty sweet line up this evening. They haven’t been getting a lot of metal shows of note lately but this one definitely stood out on their calendar. The headliner was the New Orleans based sludge band Suplecs and they were touring with the Columbus, Ohio band Lo-Pan. Shows at the Velvet Lounge tend to run late but even so I missed the first band on the bill, Weed Is Weed from Maryland. The band has two former Spirit Caravan members in its ranks, Dave Sherman and Gary Isom. I hope to catch them another time. The first band I saw play at the Velvet Lounge that evening was Lo-Pan. I’ve never seen a band’s lead singer stand all the way to the back of the stage before. I mean way back, he was even behind the drummer. Despite their strange stage positions, they were pretty good live. They made for a good opener act on this kind of tour. They wrote their set list on pages torn out of some porno magazine, certainly the most graphic set list stationary of the night.
After Lo-Pan finished their set local act Nitroseed performed. Typically an instrumental band, they played several of their songs with lyrics at this show. I’d never seen them live before but I was very impressed, certainly worth checking out if you see them listed as an opener at an upcoming show. Also, it turns out their drummer, Phil Adler, also plays in the local doom band Wooly Mammoth. Their music had some good energy and they kept the momentum rolling forward throughout their set. They finished up and the last band of the night was next, Suplecs.
Suplecs is from New Orleans and they mentioned many times between songs that they were excited to be playing in front of a DC audience as they were big fans of the DC doom metal scene. The band was good live, they had some high energy parts but also slowed it down for a few songs. Their songs really had a dynamic range to them that many sludge bands simply don’t have. This kept the show interesting and fresh throughout their set, which is a really good thing after watching three bands with a similar sound earlier in the evening. They mentioned that this was the first time they played their song Pissing In The Wind on the East Coast. They closed their set with a cover. After all their praise for DC’s metal scene I thought for sure they’d play a Pentagram or Spirit Caravan song, or something similar at least. Nope, they played Working Man by Rush. Totally out of left field if you ask me. It was ok but really didn’t seem to fit into their set that well. Regardless, I will definitely go see them again if they come through the area another time, and you should too!
If you’d like to see more images from the bands I saw that night you can see them on my Flickr page here. And be sure to check out all the videos below of Clutch, Nitroseed and Suplecs. The first four are Clutch. The first one is acoustic and the second is their new song. The last two videos are of Suplecs, the last of which is their Rush cover. Thanks to the guys in King Giant for the beers and thanks to you for reading all of this. Stay metal everyone!
Clutch’s new song:
Clutch with extended drum solo:
Clutch with guitar solo:
Suplecs covering Rush:
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