The Pinch to close on October 22nd

I’d heard rumors that the Pinch in Columbia Heights was going to close at the end of the year but last night during the Nationals game they posted on Facebook that the restaurant, bar and concert venue will be closing its doors for good this coming Tuesday, October 22nd. You can see their post here. This is a major blow to DC’s DIY community and as you might expect, social media comments, tweets and shares show that lots of people are pretty bummed to see the place go. I have personally been to about 70 shows there since early 2013, held the DC Heavy Metal holiday party there in 2014, and booked several shows there myself as well. The staff was always super good to me and DCHM, not just friendly but actually helpful. It really showed that they enjoyed being a part of the local music community.

Earlier today I spoke with Dan Maceda, bartender and part owner of the Pinch, about why the venue was closing. He told me that, “the reality of it is after seven and a half, eight years, the business was having a tough time and the financials just made it so it wasn’t making sense.” When I asked about why the venue is closing next week instead of at the end of the year Dan told me, “the intention was to continue as long as we could and it just got to a point where it just couldn’t be sustained.” There are still several shows scheduled after October 22nd including Carnivore A.D. on November 2nd and Agnostic Front on December 11th. I asked him what the future for those and other upcoming shows would be and Dan told me, “Unfortunately we’re not going to be able to accommodate those shows. When I booked them I did it in good faith, intending to be able to host them. We’re trying to work with the promoters who hosted those. It is going to be up to them to move the show or cancel or whatever. Individually they’ll have to make those decisions. We’ve given them suggestions of places to move those shows, places like Atlas Brew Works and Slash Run. I think those promoters are making inquiries and making arrangements and will announce once they know.”

The Pinch logo

The Pinch opened in May of 2012 and started hosting DIY shows in October of that year because the downstairs stage wasn’t completed at first. The first non-open mic show I could find there was a “Night of Art and Music” with local musician Jonny Grave being the only musical performer that night. It wasn’t until February 2013 that the Pinch hosted their first metal show when the now defunct local thrash metal band Warchild performed with indie rock band Shark Week. However the first big metal show there was the legendary performance by black metal band Absu on November 14th of 2013. The place was packed and this was the show that really put the venue on the map to local metal heads. Punk and metal bands found a home at the Pinch with a staff that wanted to be involved. Like most DIY venues, the sound wasn’t always great but it was a place to see bands you might not have been able to otherwise. When Jaxx/Empire finally closed for good in May of 2015 the Pinch became the place in the area that would host local metal bands with touring headliners regularly. When Damaged City Fest needed a venue that more bands could keep playing in around St Stephen’s time restraints, the Pinch was glad to host. When all the house show venues like the Corpse Fortress ended up getting shut down the Pinch started hosting the bands that would have played those venues too. A lot of people grew up in our scene at the Pinch, met friends and even partners there. The venue will be sorely missed. There’s still time to stop by though before they’re closed for good, including several shows still listed before the final concert at the Pinch, which will be a punk show featuring Bootlicker from Vancouver and ExLex from Minnesota (show info is here).

Before I got off the phone with Dan he told me, “Closing the doors is one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make. We absolutely love the community we service. I’m sorry we won’t be able to run it after the 22nd. We’ve made some great friendships and it’s been a great 8 years as far as I’m concerned. I met my wife at the Pinch as she was coming to these shows. I owe my personal life to that.”

Owners Dan, Carlos and Ashley did something special for us with the Pinch. They took a neighborhood restaurant/bar and turned it into a place where punks and metal heads could let our hair and guard down, put our footprints on the ceiling, sweat out our frustrations in a friendly mosh pit and be ourselves, together. It sucks to see the Pinch go but I’m grateful it existed and for the memories I have there. I’m sure going to miss the place so below I’ve posted show flyers from some of my favorite times at the Pinch. Feel free to share your favorite memories in the comments.

Warchild at the Pinch

Warchild was the first metal band to play the Pinch

9 Feb 2013

Smokin Brown Ale release at the Pinch

Borracho’s Smokin’ Brown Ale release show at the Pinch

18 May 2013

Absu at the Pinch

The legendary Absu show at the Pinch

14 Nov 2013

Borracho at the Pinch

Metal Night V at the Pinch with Borracho

14 Dec 2013

Mutilation Rites at the Pinch

Mutilation Rites first show at the Pinch

14 July 2014

Castle at the Pinch

Castle was the first show I ever booked at the Pinch

17 July 2014

Deceased at the Pinch

Deceased at the Pinch

11 Nov 2014

Fortress at the Pinch

Fortress headlined the 2014 DCHM Holiday Party at the Pinch

19 Dec 2014

Gatecreeper at the Pinch

Gatecreeper played the Pinch before being signed by Relapse

25 July 2015

Malthusian at the Pinch

Malthusian and Imperial Triumphant at the Pinch

12 Nov 2015

Cloud Rat at the Pinch

Cloud Rat at the Pinch

13 March 2016

Nervosa at the Pinch

Nervosa came all the way from Brazil to shred at the Pinch

14 Aug 2016

Morbid Saint at the Pinch

Morbid Saint at the Pinch

29 Oct 2016

Vektor at the Pinch

Vektor at the Pinch

23 Nov 2016

Valkyrie at the Pinch

Eyehategod and Valkyrie at the Pinch

9 Sept 2017

Bat at the Pinch

Bat and Loud Night at the Pinch

14 April 2018

Venom Prison at the Pinch

Venom Prison came from the UK to play the Pinch

12 Oct 2019

Bootlicker at the Pinch

Flyer for the final show ever at the Pinch

21 Oct 2019

Listen To Nightmonger by Midnight Eye

Local metal band Midnight Eye is releasing their EP Nightmonger and they kick off their tour supporting it with a free show this Thursday, August 8th, at The Pinch in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Washington DC (details here). Stream the EP above, pick it up on Bandcamp here and be sure to come out Thursday to watch these guitar wizards pull this stuff off live. And while you’re listening to Nightmonger, check out the review of it below by new DCHM writer Tal (you can find more of her writing on her regular blog here).

Band: Midnight Eye
Album: Nightmonger
Release Date: 8 August 2013
Buy From Bandcamp for $4: Here

Cover of Nightmonger by Midnight Eye

Midnight Eye further develops their distinctive sound with their 3-song EP Nightmonger. The new release keeps the energetic heavy metal/thrash groundwork that they laid in their first album, Sign, but also takes a few steps further in the progressive direction, with unusual vocals as well as widely varying guitar passages. But these guys have the guitar chops to tackle all the different styles they want to pursue, and piece them together fairly cohesively.

Rocking NWOBHM riffs just on the verge of thrashy form the base of their sound, occasionally taking off into a full-out frenzy-inducing thrash whirlwind. Along with shreddy guitar solos, there’s also a lot more noodling compared to the first album and even a low-tempo acoustic passage in the second song, “Chaos.” The change of pace when the acoustic segment begins is a little jarring, but it doesn’t utterly destroy the energy of the song. The bass and drums soon come back in to give the instrumental some thrash kick, and after the lead guitars meander for a bit, they finish the song with a speeded up version of the main riff, giving it a satisfying conclusion. Missing from the EP are the doomy segments that haunted a couple songs from the first album, but the third song, “Outsider,” features some buzzsaw black metal riffs instead. The end of this song, which really picks up the black metal sound with insistent drums and sweeping tremolo riffs, is one of my favorite moments on the EP.

While the guitars have immediate appeal, the vocals take some getting used to. The tone of the mid-range clean vocals, which dominate Sign, is unusual, although it sounds sort of like a mid-range take on early King Diamond. Nightmonger showcases a lot more of Simon Callahan’s ability to generate King Diamond-like shrieks and high-pitched notes, especially in the second song, “Chaos.” I’m still not quite sure if their attempt to combine the shrieks and clean vocals works in that song, but I do prefer the high-pitched vocals to the mid-range ones overall.

I enjoyed staring at the simple and yet intricate cover design for a while. It reflects the band’s carefully executed complexity, and hints at the black metal touches in their music. The depth of their lyrics also matches the complexity of the band’s sound. I enjoy lyrics that are a bit poetic, rather than obvious and straightforward. While the chorus of the first song is pretty direct – “people cling to these very truths:/they love their nation/before other nations/they love their friends/not others” – the verses are more subtle. This song is apparently based on the Chinese philosophical text Zhuangzi, which espouses harmony with the natural way of things, so the nature images in the verses are a fitting touch. The ending of the song – “sound the alarm/tell everyone/there’s no purpose/to anything at all” – at first seems like an abrupt break with the theme of waxing and waning concern for others. Chinese philosophical anecdotes often end with a lesson, though, and looking at it that way, the lesson in the last verse is that human attachments are so changeable that there’s really no purpose in pursuing them. The other two songs, while not as cryptic, are also nicely constructed, using images and metaphors to propel their message of distrust of those in power. I particularly like the phrase, “outsiders,/from shades of grey/are made in the/gears of the world,” from the third song, “Outsider.” It reflects a penetrating awareness of how otherness is constructed and used by the majority.

I’m enjoying the EP more with each listen, and looking forward to hearing the band play it live. Midnight Eye is holding a release party this Thursday, supported by Exar Kun and Thrain, so don’t miss the chance to see these stellar guitarists live. I’ll be there pushing people around when the thrashy parts take off!

Free Borracho show at the Pinch

Borracho at the Pinch

This Saturday, the 18th of May 2013, DC’s own stoner metal riff masters Borracho will be headlining a free concert at the Pinch in Columbia Heights! And this isn’t just any show, it’s also a beer release show! The awesome folks over at Port City Brewery, based in Alexandria, Virginia, have worked with the guys in Borracho to make the band their own signature beer! The Borracho Smokin’ Brown Ale is, as the name suggests, a smoked brown ale. The ale was made with an alcohol percentage of 6.66%, which is fitting for a metal band whose name translates from Spanish to mean a drunk or lush. The supply of this beer is extremely limited and won’t be sold in any stores. In fact it may be gone by the end of the night, so be sure to get out to this show if you want to try it. In addition to the beer being on draft at the show, there will also be lots of free prizes given out to people who attend. I’ll have a pair of tickets to see Kylesa at the Rock & Roll Hotel on June 19th up for grabs and there will be other prizes as well including merch from Borracho and Port City and also a growler (a 60 oz jug) full of the Borracho Smokin’ Brown Ale that one winner will get to take home! The growler is being provided by D’vines, an excellent beer/liquor/wine store also in Columbia Heights that even fills beer growlers on site.

So here’s some details about the show. Doors open at 8pm and it’s all ages. Obviously you’ve gotta be 21 with an ID to drink. The venue is called The Pinch (address and map here) and it’s in Columbia Heights, which is a pretty nice neighborhood in Washington DC. There’s street parking but unlike some of the hotter areas in DC, like U St and H St, the parking is pretty ample even on a Saturday night and since it’s a good area you don’t have to worry about your car. The Pinch is also metro accessible, you can take the yellow or green line to the Columbia Heights stop and the venue is about half a mile north on 14th Street from the station’s exit (see it on a map here). The Pinch has a pretty normal bar/restaurant upstairs but the show will be taking place in the downstairs level since that’s where the stage is. The stairs down are right by the front door, you can’t miss them. There’s also another bar downstairs so you won’t have to keep going back and forth all night.

There are going to be four stoner metal bands playing this free show and, in addition to Borracho headlining, there will be sets by Cortez from Boston, Wasted Theory from Delaware and the new project of Dave Sherman (of Earthride and Spirit Caravan fame) named Weed Is Weed from Maryland. You can check out any of those bands by clicking their names of course, and be sure to watch the awesome Borracho videos that I’ve embedded below. You can also get more info on the Facebook event page for this show here.