Sunday, November 09, 2008

Autumn Above with Drunken Above and The Real Smokin' Power [Dodge Street, Salem, 10/31/2008]

In Which I Discover I Should Have Budged My Lazy Ass Up And Caught The Goddamned Train, And Am Colossally Bad At Figuring Out Alternative Ways To Go Generally North Or East From Salem, But Get A Bonus Eyefull Of Downtown Lynn And Revere.

The headline above basically says it all: when your friend's band is playing in Salem on Halloween, get there early or on public transit. Of course, had I come on the train, I would have gotten stuck thanks to sticking for the Misfits set, but as others have demonstrated, there's more than one way to get out of Salem without motor transport....though for some of those, you may need both a bicycle and a banana costume. (Don't ask. Seriously.)

So I left too later and had to drive over, which had me crunching around through the disordered mess of Salem streets with a bunch of people who didn't know where they were going, around police barricades and through hordes of drunks who believe that Halloween costumes include a force field that wards off cars. Both the railyard and downtown were kind of hopeless, and I parked off 114 on the other side from the Point, then had a way to leg back to the gig. There was allegedly another opener, but by the time I got to the venue and waited out the entry line (the one day a year that you're going to see a lineup at Dodge Street), there was basically just the one band with three faces left.

The Real Smokin' Power [5/7]
Tone and Sean's art-noise instrumental practical joke has developed further since the last time I saw them, but with the expanded audience mostly there to get drunk and slaver over girls dressed like prostitutes, they may not have gotten through to many of those in attendance. The dancing garden gnome was a nice touch that hearkened back to historical non-instrumental participants in weird North Shore bands, but it remains to be seen if this is going to be a regular feature rather than just a Halloween special. Those who "got" this set got a cool time full of both speaker-ripping distortion and layered grooves; those who were staring slackjawed got a dancing guy with a gnome mask and some thorough confusion before they waded back into the bar area.

Speaking thereof, the drinks wait for real beer was atrocious, but the club wisely put a bucket of four-dollar cans out their pickup window facing the stage room. Budweiser - It's Not Atrocious, And You Don't Have To Stand In Line For It.

Autumn Above [6/7]
The band continues to evolve; this was probably their most progressive and debatably the heaviest outing yet, but given the environment, this may not have been optimal for their prospects. They opened up with "Trail of Roses" and went backwards through To The Inferno, interspersing new material as they've been doing lately, though with the wider general audience, this might have been a good opportunity to play the CD down in order and sucker people in as they did on their early gigs, get the drunks grooving on the smooth acoustic pop-rock and slowly work the changes until they find themselves neck-deep in a morass of metallic despair. Then again, a confused and disturbed lumpenvolk doesn't exactly go over and buy CDs en masse. Regardless, this was a hell of a good set, with the band pushing harder and reaching further than they've done in the past (or are likely to do again -- see Ryan's comments on never playing three songs as one ever again, which is made more strenuous by the fact that most of AA's songs run around six and a half minutes), to good results.

Drunken Above [5/7]
This is an ad-hoc name suggested by Ryan for a merely somewhat ad-hoc band; here we had Autumn Above playing, in various configurations and with some supplemental personnel, fewer Misfits songs than they initially planned to, aided by as many beers as those of us on the floor could scare up. As alluded to, this set was cut short by the club in favor of some live techno crap that few cared about, but fortunately, Misfits songs are wicked short and fast, and we got about eight ot ten or twelve of them before the plug came out, which was enough time for a ton of frantic thrashing, an accidental fist in the head, and someone's elbow to blow up a beer bottle half over my shirt. A nice slice of fast horror punk, violence, and airborne beer; how the hell could you tell this from a 'real' Misfits show, especially since the Misfits today aren't exactly the Misfits Misfits any more? Good stuff, and it should have gone longer, but this is Salem's big
Kommerz night, and something had to give.

It was shortly after 12:30 when they finally closed up, so I would have missed the last train, but I took the walk back up to my ride in stride. Unfortunately, I decided not to fight through the city center and everyone else trying to get out of Salem, and ended up going further south and west, eventually cutting through Lynn and Revere to pick up 60 to 93 to 128. I saw a lot of the southern North Shore that I don't normally see, including a closeup of the dog park at Wonderland, but this was a long drive after a late night that, given that I could have probably walked back as fast, was completely unnecessary. Good show -- not such good planning on the peripheral stuff, especially since I live here and ought to know better.

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