Monday, October 30, 2006

Swashbuckle with Deathamphetamine, Revocation, and Despotic Robot (plus Reverend Grundarr CD-release) [O'Brien's Pub, Allston, 10/29/2006]

Even though this was booked as a single show (Thrash Till Fucking Death part II, may or may not make it to Somerville in 2 weeks for part III), it was really more of two shows, because it's not reasonable to expect that a normal band could headline over Swashbuckle on a show like this, as the scores will bear out.

This was a matinee show, so I was able to make a whole bunch of gin chicken (recipe later) and do up some sandwiches to take in on the T. Not knowing the lay of the ground, I didn't wear my kutte in, though I probably could have, and will in the future. Taking public transit is always preferable, because metal is better enjoyed with beer, but seldom possible in this country. Interesting point walking up Harvard Ave from the Green Line stop: "Varg Lives" graffiti (with a burning church graphic) on some cafe or another. Of course Varg lives, n00bz, he still gives interviews from jail every so often.

I got to the venue right about doors and held 'em open for Despotic Robot's load-in; O'Brien's, for people who haven't been there yet, is a smallish pub that has become a smallish concert venue by putting in a stage and removing almost all signs of tables or chairs. When pressed, it might hold about 50 people, but this was not an issue with this show; even by the end, there were only about 20 or so people there who were not in bands on the bill -- and 22 who were. This is kind of endemic to local music, but in Boston a little more might have been expected. Beer prices were decent, with Stella flowing at $4 -- I could have been drinking PBR for half that, but I also could have punched myself in the face for free. You gotta watch the slippery slope.

Despotic Robot [6/7]
For the first band out of the gates, and despite what the vocalist described as a fairly long layoff (don't follow them, so I dunno when their last gig was), they were pretty impressive, and definitely set the thrash tone for the night. The board sounded really well-tuned for them, though this may have been an artifact of their fairly melodic sound, which was heavily rooted in Metallica's first three discs with a few hardcore touches. Fun music in good humor, but also thoroughly competent and it got everyone up and moving around.

Revocation [6/7]
The sound board wasn't as good to these guys, who mimed along to Death's "Crystal Mountain" during their soundcheck but presented a sound much more in line with Atheist or Imperium as regards technical thrash. The guitars were a little buried at times, but they still had a strong share of good music, and the bassist is fuckin' sick. Still a good show, but they need a second guitarist or just better guitar amps to really move up.

Color me totally retarded, but I didn't realize that Revocation is Cryptic Warning under a new name, modulo a new drummer. Of course, this is probably because it's been 4 years since I got their first demo, and spent most of the intervening time either out of state or out of the country. I got both CDs and a shirt from them, for coolness and to support the scene, not just because I felt guilty for sticking that early demo with a 3/7 score.

Also between Revocation and Deathamphetamine, I saw on the bar TV that Green Bay had defeated the rapidly self-destructing Cardinals. Go Pack Go!

Deathamphetamine [6/7]
If I had to put this band in a national nutshell, I'd have to go with Nevermore for their mix of the brutal and progressive. However, they don't really-really sound like Nevermore at all. They were the first band to spill off the stage, probably because their guitarist's effects board wouldn't leave him anywhere to stand if it had to get sandwiched in between their cabs and the front monitors. This set was ambitious as well as thoroughly well-delivered, and their overall total tightness got them a lot of extra style points. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to score a CD from them, as they'd sold out, so I got a shirt instead. They're going to do another pressing, and it's not like I'm never going to see them again; a band this good in an area as rich with metal shows as eastern New England will never lack for local-support slots.

Swashbuckle [7/7]
These guys were ready from the get-go, changing into their pirate costumes almost as soon as they got to the venue and not taking too long to get their heavily prop-laded stage set up and ready. However, the stars weren't the oar or the inflatable pirate ship, but Admiral Nobeard and crew as they tore through song after song of Running Wild-flavored brutal thrash and got the crowd churning, both on normal pit dynamics and an actual circle pit (which I took a single mostly non-voluntary turn in, though without injury) around one of the supporting poles in the middle of the floor. We raised our pirate hooks (do the horns, put your pinky back in your fist, then hook the first finger) and got both taunted and praised for buying into the gimmick -- sure, gimmicks are gimmicks, but there ain't nothing wrong with them when they're backed up by pure undiluted AWESOME. It's difficult to describe how cool this set was to someone who wasn't there, other than to tell people to go see this damn band's shows, and buy their damn swag. Their Crewed By The Damned CD is great, and I also scored a "Wooden Legs and Emptied Kegs" shirt -- which another showgoer picked up for his roommate, who recently had to have a leg amputated and chose a peg leg over a normal prosthesis. Now that's fuckin metal.

Reverend Grundarr and the Unholy Trinity [5/7]
Though this band took an egalitarian tack by setting up in the middle of the floor -- which had previously been serving as backstage for everyone else as the stagefront emptied over to the bar area between songs, they still came off as a little flat. Maybe it was the setup, maybe it was the fact that they empasized the grind in grind-thrash and grind bands really have to almost be Napalm Death or Nasum to really get my head turned, but most likely it was the fact that they were following Swashbuckle and everyone was just leaning on one of the bars or supports resting up. They played a good set and executed well, but the necessary falloff in awesomeness level was still apparent. Their new CD is better than they were live, so maybe this was an off night; I'll see in a couple weeks how they do building up energy for Hirax.

After picking up the CD and a patch from Grundarr et al, I hit the road back -- giving a YARRRRR! to Swashbuckle as I passed their van in the parking lot. Fun times and an awesome show; this sort of gig should be an obligato every time the Patriots play Monday night and the Bruins don't have a Sunday night game. No pics from the Rev on this one, which is too bad, but he was covering a festival in NYC on Saturday and can be kind of excused -- though other people will have a harder time.

How to make gin chicken:
This is a newly developed recipe that is now officially out of beta. It combines stir-frying and boiling to create tender chicken pieces that can be used in just about anything. I can't wait until I have the leisure time (and non-moldy steamer trays) to do some Chinese steamed buns around these. For the sauce you need hoisin sauce, soy sauce, water, and a clove or two of garlic. In your wok you'll need a shot or so of cooking oil and a shot or so of shochu (or Chinese cooking wine, or Han vodka, or some other mostly-taste-neutral spirit of your choice). These can be extended over a basically arbitrary amount of chicken.

Dice up the garlic real fine and put it in a small bowl. Add about 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 heaped teaspoon of hoisin sauce, and 1/2 cup water. Mix thoroughly.
Take your chicken breasts and thoroughly remove all fat and gristle. Slice 'em as thin as you can get, with the grain; about 1/4 inch should be a good thickness.
Put the oil and booze in the wok and get your heat up; start adding chicken slices until the area covered by liquid is full. Pour the sauce in over them.
Turn the chicken periodically to make sure both sides of the slices are cooked. As soon as one batch of pieces is done, take them out and put new chicken in. Continue until all that you've cut is cooked.

The resulting chicken has a slight Chinese taste, but not overly strong, and it can be used in just about anything. I've had it with pasta, couscous, on sandwiches with various kinds of cheese, the works. The secret of its extensibility is that the sauce has no thickeners, so it cooks into the meat rather than onto it, and can be easily washed right out of the wok once the cooking's done. This dish is also stupidly easy and quick to make up; I went from 'no cooking gear or ingredients out' to 'finished making the sandwich and washed up' in 15 minutes on Saturday, including all cooking and prep. If you can keep the sauce ingredients in stock, there's really not any excuse any more for not fresh-cooking stuff.

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