There was a lot of sturm and drang about this show going in, ranging from "lol,wut" to "GRR SILVER ENEMA HOSE UP YOUR ASS", to "meh, we'll give it a shot", but fortunately, things resolved to the point that this was a good and largely peaceable show, and the visitors from SoCal made it through the night without that old chant being bellowed at them.
I got bogged down with stuff at work more than anticipated, and thus left late -- and got caught in ANOTHER ridiculous main-thoroughfare closure -- but was able to stump my way in shortly after 9pm, when the bands were supposed to start. Of course, nobody who's gone to more than a handful of shows was anticipating the music to actually start at nine, so I had the chance to hang about, drink beer, try to stay out of the bands' way as they loaded in, watch riders biff it on the Tour, and yack with Dave and Juan about spreading Vicious Insanity, Ill Daemonium, and other materials around to the eastern territories. To be determined if I go hang with said doods Tuesday; I've got a lot of stuff packed into the next week and still have to finish getting all my gear together.
Who Carries The Lantern [5.5/7]
In a welcome respite from the usual go-around (I go to a show, at least one band doesn't have a bass player, I whine about it on the internet but headbang during their set and buy their merch anyway), half of the bands on this bill did cut down their instrumental distribution, but in a way that (decade-old snark about godheadSilo aside) I'm fundamentally more comfortable with. WCTL was the first of the guitarless bands on the bill, and though their doom/post-metal sound wasn't the tightest match for the rest of the bill, that's Ammonia Booking for you; Robin apparently has a fetish for bills that hang together only tenuously, probably for "if the kids are united" reasons as much for maximizing turnout. Here, as on most other occasions, the head-scratching quickly gave way to appreciation; WCTL got a good long set for an opener, and filled it with diverse, heavy, developed, and often melodic music that you might not immediately expect from a vox-bass-drums three-piece. This was some good stuff, and though they played for quite a while, there was never a sense that they were falling into a rut, which is often the case with drum-and-bass bands. They didn't have anything recorded available, which is a shame, but I was able to pick up a button that unfortunately isn't on my rig yet.
Bone Ritual [6.5/7]
There is a certain portion of the black metal population that bought into the drama going into this show and, presumably, hard-line refused to support Wes Coppola going around the country in a van with four other dudes and a bunch of equipment on the basis of his last name and some invented perversion of the true ideals of black metal. This now becomes deliciously ironic and hilarious because these people kvlted themselves out of Bone Ritual's first show, a set which played every other band at this gig off the stage and will likely destroy every subsequent black metal performance in Boston this year with the same facility that it beat out every previous one. Foregoing guitars in favor of Cody/Strep Cunt playing through more and bigger amps than he usually does with Witch Tomb, Bone Ritual blasted the audience with a tight four-song set of not-quite-VON-worship (including, yes, VON's "Dissection Inhuman") blending funeral-doom and ritualistic styles with the black metal filth that was expected going in based on the lineup. The good part was that Bone Ritual played a show, when the band had previously been ambivalent about taking the music live; the bad part was that they had only so much skullcrushingly awesome material on their demo, and couldn't really go on longer without people complaining about them suddenly turning into a VON or possibly Ildjarn cover band.
Of course, this then begs the question of who would object, really, to having bands occasionally perform full cover sets of obscure and/or defunct underground bands; yes, it's not the same as the real thing, and touring on it would be a ripoff, but it's easier to woodshed on a couple records for three weeks than to convince VON to reunite and play gigs, and cheaper to show up for gas money and a pizza than it is to bring in Witch Trap from Colombia. A scene that does this too regularly becomes vinyl-bound and loses its own creativity, but once or twice a year isn't going to hurt anything, and may convince the real bands to tour once they see there's a demand for their imitations.
Closed Casket [5/7]
I don't think anyone was actually confused or disturbed by Closed Casket having guitars, though some may play it so for the lulz in retrospect. They came down from Maine and acquitted themselves pretty well with a mix of black metal and NWOSDM that acquitted itself well, neither hitting any real highs nor being so boring or mis-composed as to drive people out of the room. I'm sure that, given the distance, they'd like to have made a bigger splash, but when you follow Bone Ritual, ending up at "decent" rather than "totally underwhelming" is a bit of an accomplishment in itself. I'm a little skeptical about them ending with "Killers"; while two of the other three bands also did prominent covers, they finished strong with their own material. Of course, this may just be me; my views on what Iron Maiden covers are interesting are well attested. Unfortunately, they didn't appear to have any merch available; differences between live and studio abilities aside, you usually get a better idea of a band's music on CD at your own leisure rather than while buzzed and shell-shocked from another band's set, and I wanted to make sure to give them a fair shake.
Between bands, I got Bone Ritual's standard merch bundle off Charlie (drums) and somehow scraped up enough quarters that he didn't have to break any bills, then, after leaning back against the post, had Nicholas Cage just walk on past in front of me to stand over by the end of Noctum's merch table. Holy fuckin' shit, man.
Eyes of Noctum [5.5/7]
First: EoN is not touring solely on Wes Coppola's last name. Second: if his last name wasn't what it is, they'd probably be touring with another band ot two rather than solo, much like the last black metal show I saw in this place, which featured 2-3 bands (given the near-100% overlap between Ashdautas and Volahn's live lineup, I'm not going to call this 3 bands without any qualification) from the same general part of the world. They played a decent set that incorporated a bunch of death elements, including a Bloodbath cover, sagged in the middle, and sounded nearly as much like Dimmu as advertised. Wes ran out some inter-song banter that seemed not to have been written by a native English speaker, but also threw in a self-deprecating joke about perceptions of his dilettantism ("I just became a vocalist an hour ago"), showing that he at least understands where the anti-elite-elitists are coming from. I got their CD, and a shirt because the merch chick was having trouble breaking the bill and I hate inconveniencing bands; not sure that I'd go out of my way to see them again, but this set at least was decent.
After the initial shock of Pops Coppola showing up at this shindig, we also got an illustration writ larger than usual of a phenomenon that, as Rev. Aaron's been quoted, is not so usual: parents showing up for shows, and beyond this, parents who show up to gigs and cause a distraction. Parental intervention usually involves both pride ("I'm glad, deep down, that my dad cares enough to show up and support when I'm playing a gig") and embarrassment ("I'm on stage in face paint and goth elevator boots singing about cannibalism, and my frickin dad is out there in the pit clapping along"), but in the case of the front-and-center parent, this can also turn into Oedipal frustration; no matter how much musicians say they want to not seek fame, when you're up on stage, you want people to pay attention to you....and when halfway through your set, it's half black metal doods and suddenly half preppie starfuckers who are grabbing your dad for pictures, it's got to rankle. Unlike some other cases, though, Pops Coppola was not looking for attention, just standing to the side, in the back, in front of nobody but the mixing stand, and since Wes has grown up his whole life with famous parents, he doubtless understands that this sort of comes with the territory. If his dad's following him around the whole tour, things could get awkward, but I've got to believe that a guy who changed his name to step away from his own family when he was coming up as an actor would have enough sense and taste not to helicopter his own kids. Also, I'm having a hard time seeing him wanting to take on three weeks of standing in dingy dive bars, getting pestered for pictures by non-fans and yelled at by liquored-up black metal dudes that he hasn't made a good movie since The Rock. Shit sucks; if it wasn't for the "rich" bit, nobody would ever do the "famous" part.
Tonight: moar black metal, fewer celebrities, out in Worcester.