Midweek shows are, in general, a crapshoot; most touring bands know that we have an extensive scene, but with extremely irregular employment and school commitments, in this area, and tend to book their shows on weekends. Smaller tours that have to do a minimum-travel-distance cover are the exception, and there's always the risk that a band doing a DIY tour is doing so not because they just don't have any label/booking support, but because they can't get any. This was going to be one of those smaller tours -- was going to be, because as a quick look at Metal-Archives will reveal, all of these bands are from Boston.
The reason for this is that Lecherous Nocturne -- who would have really slayed on this gig -- was billed as the headliner up until the moment where they got their van and all their gear stolen, leaving them stranded in Houston, penniless and half a continent away from home. As touring catastrophes go, this is about as bad as it gets short of fatal injuries; if you like death metal and don't have their CDs yet, hit up your favorite distro and order them. If you go to underground gigs, some of your friends probably also will hit the road with a van, no budget, and three weeks of gigs to play, and you certainly wouldn't want them to stay marooned wherever some methhead decides that ripping off the van is easier than breaking in and just stealing the cymbals for scrap.
When I left to go in, the Sox were up 1-0 in the second or so; the drive was uneventful, despite the candlelight vigil for Burma on the front steps of MIT as I came up Mass Ave, and the walk over into Allston not especially demanding. I stood around outside basically just long enough to explain why I was dressed out of twig -- unsure of the ground on the insert/extraction route, I passed up my kutte as it tends to attract notice, though it wouldn't've made a difference and won't going forward -- then went in and got processed. The Sox were in the 8th, up 4-0, and had won the game by the time I finished my first beer. One down, ten to go.
It needs to be mentioned at some point that O'Brien's is almost not the same place any more. The stage is still wedged in a corner, and there are still a bunch of poles running through the middle of the floor, but in the place of the broken and beer-soaked old floor, there is nice varnished hardwood that the staff actually mops to keep it from going to shit again, and the tables and weird hump that used to break up the space even more have been pretty much effaced. O'Brien's is a real venue now, with a real mixing stand and suspended lights and PA, instead of a crummy bar that bands play at. It's a hell of a lot more livable now, but despite the cleanliness, increased space, and improved sound, there are still moments where you're nostalgic for the old days when things wasn't all so high-toned an' sivilized, to follow Twain (I've been re-reading Huck Finn lately, and in addition to being better than Twain's other novels. it does improve with repeated reads).
Enough about the venue, this isn't fuckin' Zagat's; there was four hours of death metal here, which was the real point.
They played down a very similar set to the one they did down in Taunton last time, but a little abbreviated and a bit tighter as well. The sound was a lot better here than I anticipated, and though the guitar and bass weren't miked -- no point in a room this small where the cabs are going to dominate the PA anyways -- the balance was as good as the sound was clear. The newer material is starting to take over from the Summon The Spawn stuff in the setlist, and you can't listen to it and not be immediately impressed; there's been no noise about new recorded material, but the band has no shortage of new stuff that they don't do live, the reason for its absence obviously being that they still have to tweak and rehearse it until it becomes as letter-perfect as their current live material.
Bane of Existence [5.5/7]
I was really impressed with the band's technical execution, which in places -- especially Mike's drums -- is just flat staggering, but the band unfortunately came off as a little flat. It may have been where I was standing, though the later bands sounded better from the same spot, or just less 'on' of a night than I saw from them last time, but while it was definitely an enjoyable set, it didn't really reach out and grab you as much as the other bands. They were still damn good, and the return of their old vocalist to guest on a couple songs was a cool touch, but for me more intellectually than viscerally appealing.
I hadn't heard these guys before, but came away with a good impression; they don't fit the mold of what people may think a "Unique Leader band" should sound like (specifically, "exactly like Deeds of Flesh"), but they definitely gave a solid performance and strongly presented their take on brutal death. Their material was debatably the most techncially composed of the night, vying with Revocation for that title with a lot of separated lines that didn't immediately line up with each other. If I can remember correctly, there was a wee bit of grind influence as well, but it could just be the beer portion of the evening playing tricks on my memory. Regardless, it was a pretty killer set, again featuring some contributions from the band's former vocalist. To some these might just be typical local-band antics, but this leaves aside the point that these bands are pretty damned good, and the opportunity to see these kinds of performances isn't afforded to others who see them when they gig out.
The last up, they were also about the least technical of the night, but no less heavy, compensating with solid grooves for the decision to not engage in as much fretboard wizardry. As might be expected, from being the last band, groove driven, and the audience thoroughly gassed, this is where it got violent, maybe more than might have been abstractly expected for a local show on a Wednesday. It was certainly more than was expected by the people who had chairs out on the floor at the start, and then had to make tracks for the bar before they got knocked over. The music was quality, more than just a backdrop for shoving one another all over the place and into various walls and support poles, but the antics were what really took this set up the additional notch -- though my unambiguously positive view of these developments may well be colored by not seeing Adam (the singer)'s wang at any point during the time where he had his pants yanked down below his ass. This seems to not have been universally true, and if you did get an eyeful of weiner when you weren't expecting such, it might well put a damper on your night.
It's self evident, though, that this was a good enough show that just seeing one dick wouldn't be nearly enough to ruin an overall killer night.
The walk back to Cambridge was uneventful, but on the drive out, I got screwed over again by the MA DOT, who for reasons known only to them closed down Rt 1 and Rt 93 northbound -- and 90 westbound from 93 south. There was, within degrees, no reasonable way to get home, so I got on Mass Ave again and rode that out until it crossed 128. I can understand the safety risks presented by allowing people to just glue concrete to the roof instead of bolting it in place like a sane person would do, but do you seriously have to close ALL northbound roads AT THE SAME TIME to do the repairs? Blockheads.
Next show isn't until next weekend; I'll spend the intervening time doing research for this year's books (last year's are free, by the way) and potentially cooking an arbitrarily large number of pork buns on the weekend. Then again, thanks to our penchant for industrial-scale cooking -- my brother was house manager in his frat at college and I worked in a dining hall for four years -- we spent all last week scarfing chicken parm, and are this week working through like nine pounds of baked potatoes and about a half-gallon of baked beans. At least the pork buns I might have a chance to give away at some point. Who wants a bushel?