Saturday, May 10, 2008

Revocation with Mechannibal and Ramming Speed [Quincy Cage, Cambridge, 5/1/2008]

Another late post, but not so late; I'm catching up and this was a killer show to catch up with.

If you go to enough underground shows, you will eventually hit up more than a few that are totally weird for some reason or another, shows that become memorable not so much for what the bands do as for other stuff having to do with the particulars of the situation. For many of those involved this time, this show was in that number.

This was a decently late start that I was able to get back from work, play some soccer, shower, and get from Green Street up to Harvard well before the first band started. Yes, Harvard; Anthony from Revocation is a student at this fine institution as well as a badass bassist, and this show was held in a cleaned-up PE-equipment alcove -- set off from the basement hallway by chainlink fencing, hence the name -- underneath Quincy House. There are very few metal bands that can say they've played Harvard, and this, in addition to the fact that this was a free show, probably helped trump the fact that it was technically dry and got a good number of people out; metalheads of all stripes, crusties with pants sewn basically into their legs, and Harvard students who didn't know a bass from a guitar and were probably wondering where all these weirdos came from.

After managing to get past the door and its associated locks, I rode down in the elevator with most of Mechannibal, who were already a little bemused with the state of things, but had managed to pick up some foods despite aggro from the college authorities. That this was going to be an interesting cross-cultural experience was already evident, which became clearer as we got into the basement, climbed over the bands' stuff, and settled in among others simultaneously trying to hang out and prevent the building security from discovering their alcohol. At this point, it was mostly metal people still, including of course a few metal Harvard people, but the Harvard people were starting to trickle in from upstairs.

Ramming Speed [5/7]
This was a pretty good set, if a little short, but one which was negatively affected by the somewhat ad-hoc PA. With basement shows in general, it's a bit of a crapshoot as to whether you're going to have the bands sound like anything, and Ramming Speed's melodic layer on top of the thrashcore basics, which is what separates them, mainly, from other bands, is kind of dependent on the leads cutting through. This didn't happen consistently here, and the result was probably the punkiest set I've seen out of this band; it was pretty good, and the attendees definitely got into it, but Ramming Speed is more than a thrashpunk band when they're in a hall that allows their music to come through as intended.

Mechannibal [5/7]
Mechannibal, by contrast, was pretty well-served by the PA; not everything came through 100%, and a lot of the vocals were pretty buried, but their straightforward grind attack is the kind of music that lives and breeds in basements, and though there wasn't a whole lot of movement, even in the even mix of metal and crust d00ds who were at that point the majority of the crowd, this was still a pretty fun time. Not the best set I've seen out of them, but a whole lot of solid power and killer music all the same.

It's probably been widely commented on already, but Mike plays his drums like they punched out his grandma immediately before Mechannibal's set started. There aren't many drummers who hit harder around Boston, and there's none that I can recall looking like they hit this hard; his performance sees his face set in an iron grimace of rage almost throughout, and the effect of this expression, combined with his heavy-gauge sticks and the amount of force he puts into his kit, is that anyone who's watching can't stop wondering how he doesn't damage more equipment.

While Revocation was setting up, the Harvard people started to show up in numbers. They could be easily recognized by wearing shirts in actual colors, and because they didn't actually know what Revocation sounded like. This led to some lulzworthy overheard conversations, but these won't be repeated because, to their credit, most of the non-metal Harvard people actually did stay after the band got cranked up.

Revocation [6/7]
The PA was dialed in a little better, but there were still some bits that got lost, as entirely expected; fortunately, they weren't enough to obscure a really good set. Like the others, it was a little short, but brim-full of
Empire of the Obscene material, as well as older stuff that's been renovated and updated. Oddly, despite the fact that the other two bands on this bill were a hell of a lot more punk and core, Revocation also saw the most and most consistent pit motion of the evening, and even a few of the non-metal (or, hopefully, not-previously-metal) Harvard types got involved as well; it's just as exotic for them to have punks, hardcore kids, and thrashers in their basement listening to progressive death-thrash as it is for us to go to a show on the Harvard campus, and in this context they could go brew stuff up without having to get outside their comfort zone at, say, O'Brien's.

Eventually, things closed up and the basement emptied out. It was an interesting experience, to be sure, and hopefully to be repeated in the future; Anthony's allegedly going to be booking this space consistently come fall term, and if that works out, it should be an interesting place to play for a wide variety of bands, and hopefully a way to bend more Harvard kids into the scene. Cross-cultural exchange is waeome, but it doesnt happen unless people actually go out there and start crossing between cultures -- if the upper strata of Cambridge won't come to heavy music, heavy music'll just have to move into their basement and start making loud noises.

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