Saturday, February 10, 2007

Metal Winter Break last crack: Despotic Robot with Revocation and Mechannibal [Castle Greyskull, Allston, 2/7/2007]

And thus this final chapter doth close, upon one of the more awesome continuous stretches of shows in recent memory: with pizza, ersatzbier, and much thrashing. Maybe I could have made it up to New Hampshire for a few minutes of Unleashed as well, but it's really not worth it given the distance...and the fact that I wouldn't be able to get a ticket off one of the locals, given that all their sets had probably wrapped. This one was more than cool enough.

Careful inspection of a map will find that this 'venue' doesn't exist. This is because it's in a private basement, which though full of low-hanging pipes was still a cool place to watch some bands. Careful inspection of the bill will reveal that there was supposed to be a touring band from Tennessee on the roster, who are nowhere mentioned above. This bears some remarking on.

After circling the block a couple times to make sure I had the right place and no other options, I parked in behind Mike from Mechannibal/Unholy Trinity and went in. Under advisement from the people putting up the show, I stopped worrying about parking, and in the end did not get a bill from the Allston PD. Cool. There were only a couple other people there this early, so me and this Russian guy scared up a small collection for an extra 30-rack to be shared out; I ended up only getting like 4 beers out of it, but other people got beer who may not have been driving or may not have had the five bucks to spare.

While we were standing around drinking, we found out from Despotic Robot that Evil Army had canceled; this sucked, of course, but it sucked more for Evil Army, because they were stuck in fucking Cleveland, rather than in Boston playing a show, drinking our doods' PBRs, and brewing up a night of some of the most hardcore accent clashes possible in the English-speaking world. Apparently their gig in Buffalo fell through, and as such they weren't able to make it further east; weird, but that doesn't really explain why they're in Cleveland. None of this really explains why they're in Cleveland at all; sure, it's got a decent scene, but it, like most of the rest of Ohio, kind of sucks. They shoulda gone through Cincinnati or Columbus, then Pittsburgh, and up to Buffalo; more driving, but no Cleveland.

The absence of the touring band, though, didn't cut much into the relaxed vibe of the show, probably because the locals are abundantly awesome, and between them very capable of putting on a kickass basement show. The lineup drew evenly across metal and hardcore, with the crowd pretty much evenly sourced as well. Not evenly divided, though; no divisions at this gig. Beer, pizza, and thrash just bring people together.

Mechannibal [5/7]
Since I saw them last, they've obviously developed, and just from existing as a band in the intervening time, they're more comfortable with each other and performing as a unit. The music, as before, was mostly hardcore with shots of punk and thrash to flavor, and it really worked well in this setting, with the band and the audience right on top of each other, everyone pushed together by stone walls and broken furnaces restricting the floorspace. In about their second song, the pizza showed up, and it was time to pizza mosh. If you haven't eaten pizza while simultaneously thrashing out, you have missed out on a very cool experience, and need to throw or attend a basement show that will enable such posthaste. Unfortunately, many of the people who were actually at this gig missed out on the pizza mosh; about a third to half of the pizza that was lugged into the crowd was accidentally destroyed because people didn't grab it out of the boxes fast enough, and it got thrashed out onto the floor. Too bad for them, but it was great fun for those of us who did manage to scarf a slice or two while moshing or serving as human gym mats to keep people from bashing into the walls. Mechannibal's set seemed about right, maybe a little short, but in keeping with the DIY nature of the show.

Revocation took a while setting up, because Dave stepped out for some reason, so I got some more beers (the last two that I'd pull, as the crate was thoroughly plundered later) and then got to talking with Anthony and some other dudes, about a variety of things, but mostly metal. If I end up going to MDF, I may be giving Anthony a lift; I ought to also offer my services generally if I do go, as I have a fair degree of OTR driving experience and at least somewhat know my way around most of the route. The only problem is that given my car, if I'm driving three or more other people, I'd have to rent or finagle a van...more complications. At this point it's looking quite likely that I'll be able to go, but I need to double-check my vacation balance against what I'm going to need both before that (if any) and after (to do Wacken and be conscious on Thursday).

Also before Revocation went on, I got asked to pose for what was probably intended as a Symbolfoto of this event; me in my ridiculous studded and patch-ridden jacket, cheek by jowl with this punk kid in a hoodie with various fabric patches coarse-sewn in, metal and punk coexisting peacefully, having a good time together at the DIY gig. Of course, the better pic would have been any random shot of the pit, for any of the bands, as people from all scenes rocked out and brewed it up with each other, all in good humor, but it's understandable that the photographer didn't want to take his camera in where it might get elbowed or bathed in tomato sauce. Still cool, and if it inspires more people to throw more cross-scene shows, so much the better.

Revocation [6/7]
The sound, of course, wasn't quite as good as the several other times I've seen this band, and there were a couple times where they seemed to be fighting it, probably due to not really having any monitors as such. However, they battled through and did a cool though unfortunately short set that still managed to be tight and technical despite the sound system not really being set up for such. What this set, in the context of Metal Winter Break, really highlighted was the band's adaptability; Revocation can go on stage on a very progressive and technical bill like they did on Thursday in Worcester and play a progressive and technical set, or they can go into a basement and play some balls-out thrash, and they're able to do this off a single catalog, even most of the same songs, just with slightly different selections and points of emphasis. Most of their stuff has a foot in each world, and it gains its power from the side that isn't dominant: the brutal riffs and pace driving on Thursday, and the technical twists giving form to the thrash avalanche tonight. Killer stuff, but they probably could have gone a little longer.

Despotic Robot [6/7]
This band sounded mostly like I remembered, though they tossed in a few grindcore songs that I hadn't heard before, in what was an intentional departure from their normal style. The sound these guys get from colliding hardcore and traditional heavy metal is really cool and interesting, but it's also exactly how you'd do it if you for some reason were trying to derive thrash from first principles. Because nobody does that nowadays (easier to follow the patterns of existing thrash movements), Despotic Robot sounds fairly unique, but even if they didn't, they'd still have a good sound and put on a good show. Even though I wasn't right on top of the band, this was a cool set, and the circle pit that developed around the basement obstacles during their final song (Grim Reaper cover) was a fittingly lunatic way to cap off the musical festivities.

Afterwards, I went to hunt up some beer in order to stick around some; unfortunately, there was none readily available and absent fluids my cold was acting up. So I pulled, sorry to go but well satisfied: I saw some kickass bands, met some kickass folks, thrashed down some pizza, and got Mechannibal's demo, which I'm sure will be good stuff once I get around to listening to it. For now, though, Metal Winter Break is done, and I can get in some sleeping to recharge my batteries before the rest of February trickles on past. Anthony mentioned another Allston show on the 13th that's shaping up to be a local thrash/death jamboree; it's midweek, but given the relative dearth of shows on the calendar between now and March, I may well get down for that one as well.

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