I pushed it a little later coming in this time, and the bands also got in earlier than Thursday. The only unfortunate parts was that I was short on cash, which meant that I only picked up two records from Jeremy's table...but fortunately (?) there wasn't much of an option to directly support the bands; not because I like stiffing them, but because choosing who to support on my 20 spare bucks -- and worse, who not to -- is a choice I hate making.
Graveside Service [4/7]
I hadn't seen this band before, but there's a debate to be made that this may be a positive; with a stage cluttered with various props and stage dressing, and with their gothic/black metal sound coming out of the somewhat unusual instrumental alignment, it definitely felt like there may not be a whole lot to differentiate one Graveside Service set from the next. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised that from this combo of vocalist, keyboards, and some seriously well-handled drums were able to produce a sound that hewed fairly close to black metal. My tolerance for stringless goth music -- especially with an overabundance of props -- is really low, but the legitimate black metal elements in their sound made the time worthwhile. There was some slack time, and there were a few parts in the writing that were less than inspired, but the music was overall decent, and it's an experience to be recommended at least once.
With a full complement this time (staffed out by Cody from Witch Tomb on bass), they somehow didn't make as deep an impression as the last time I saw them. I have no idea as to why exactly this is, perhaps due to the sound (overall decent, but we didn't have the "usual" Sunday guy on this gig, who was also in on Thursday), but the overall impression was of a trebled-out scream-and-drone take on black metal that didn't seem to really take a bite out of the audience. They did a solid cover of Mayhem's "Freezing Moon" (with the intro taken directly from Live In Leipzig), but it was only in this and the subsequent, final song that it felt like they had stepped it up to their potential. This was some good stuff, and the main part of the set was decent; as they move forward and do some rewrites of their existing material to take better advantage of Cody's talents, there's definitely the potential to improve and put up kickass sets even despite potential sound problems.
If someone tells you that hardcore and black metal simply cannot mix, they are liars -- though you can't blame them, as the whole impulse of both scenes have been diametrically opposed since the time that both existed. However, this set showed that the two can be blended -- and when it's done right, it can be pretty damn awesome. Mixing black metal arrangements and hate with hardcore composition and intensity, this was a tremendously cool, turbulent set that was thoroughly awesome even before they closed with Carnivore's "Sex and Violence". If you like extreme metal, you need to see this band -- but this was not the best fusion of the opposed ends of the extreme on the night.
This, though, was, and damn was it ever intense. Watchmaker are among the old masters of the Boston thrash scene, and they definitely showed why in this set, mostly coming out of grind and thrash but with significant black and noise touches as well. The music was great, with a lot of subtlety as well as straight-ahead violence, but the audience reaction was something else, with most of the house down front going crazy. Those who weren't there may think this is an exaggeration, but there are few descriptions that should otherwise be used for an event where people are stagediving onto a handful of people at a bar show. There weren't any major injuries despite a lot of close encounters with tables and the floor, so despite the raw insanity incurred as they closed with "Damage, Inc." (obviously, not identical to the original, but in this setting definitely the better for the reinterpretation), there was only just the right amount of pain, strain, impact, and bruising to let all participants know the next day that they were at a kickass gig.
After checking to make sure that all my body parts were still attached, I headed back out to get going home....which took a lot longer than expected because the tunnel up to the northward routse was closed for repairs again, and the detours led around in what seemed like the longest possible route through Revere. This is the only bad part about Boston shows; the commute's easy, except when the highway chokepoints decide to be unsafe to drive through. Next gig's in Worcester, so this problem won't be an issue -- just the challenge of driving back the hell over the Mass Pike amid too many overloaded trucks going too fast on inconsistent surfaces. When gigs are this good, though, it's not worth complaining about the drive unless you actually get brewed up or killed.