Thursday, July 21, 2011

Truckfighters with Black Pyramid, Mockingbird, and Blue Aside [Ralph's, Worcester, 7/14/2011]

Coming out for this, the drive wasn't a problem, and the sky was magnificent. Going out to a show like this, it's somehow more fitting that the clouds twist themselves into crenellations and funnels, lit by the sunset into a tapestry of intricately woven orange, like an old LP sleeve that you need to spend an hour with your nose literally jammed into to pick up everything. It's not really possible to do this with the sky, of course, nor safe to attempt to do so while driving, but it fit in well all the same.

Despite starting out a little late, I got in with enough time to get a beer and realize that I had less money with me than I thought, and would be coming back with less Truckfighters material than optimal. Oh well. Soon enough, though, the music started, and this stuff became a little more academic.

Blue Aside [5.5/7]
It wasn't until the start of their fifth and last song, when they actually introduced it as another song, that I was sure that Blue Aside's set was composed out of discrete songs rather than several movements of a single longer piece. This was good stuff, flowing material that connected strongly to itself and hung together not only internally but song to song; built, like a lot of doom (if not so many of the bands on this particular bill) on a lot of Sabbath, they also mixed in a fair amount of Yes and non-trace concentrations of Slough Feg. Their set progressed from wicked doomy at the start to a lot more upbeat and 70s-rockish at the end, kind of an anti-Autumn Above, but maybe with the same motivations of suckering in an audience who might not initially react well to the way the set balanced out. This was a good outing, but in a way it's not surprising that I hadn't seen this band before; the audience for a good, proficient metal-rooted band that can cross over is greater where they can cross over than it is in the metal context, and they don't come from my town.

Mockingbird [5.5/7]
In from Ohio, these guys flipped the script around: this is the side of doom not touching on Black Sabbath, but built out of pure, gravelling punk'n'roll rebarreled down to 10-gauge. They didn't get an especially long set -- maybe it just felt like that, after Blue Aside's endlessly flowing compositions -- but every minute was pure crush. Less variety, but it's kind of heaviness, not necessarily variety, that this kind of band aims for, and they delivered abundantly on the heaviness front.

In here I went back and did my merch: I'd now heard or at least decided on (only Truckfighters exposure was their movie trailer, and that they were in from fucking Sweden) all of the bands on the bill, and so put down on the headliners' Mania album, Mockingbird's self-titled EP, which came with an unexpected number of extras, and Blue Aside's The Orange Tree record on CD, along with a couple spare stickers to pass around in the east. All good stuff, as it turned out, but 12" LPs don't fit in the occasionally-useful trauma plate pouch in my lightweight kutte, so what the fuck was I supposed to do with these unwieldy and highly frangible chunks of wax for the rest of the night? Fortunately, genetic advantages saved the day again: there's a shelf on one of the walls about 7 1/2, 8 feet off the floor that has a hacked station of the cross or something on it, and there was enough space that your size-enabled correspondent could slap his vinyls up there, have his hands free to handle any pit action -- not that there was a lot of it -- and be pretty sure that almost nobody in the room would be able, much less inclined, to swipe them or inadvertently knock them off.

Black Pyramid [6/7]
I'd just seen Black Pyramid again here three weeks ago, and most of the notes on that set just carry straight over. This set was a little shorter, and maybe a little heavier, but in the main Black Pyramid is a very good, very consistent band who can be relied upon to produce a great set of crowd-friendly doom-drenched heavy metal. In that regard, this was about the most metal of the performances on offer, and got probably the best response; some of that is Metal Thursday being Metal Thursday, even when a gang of stoner punks from Sweden are headlining, but most of it is a very good band turning in a very good performance in front of a crowd that, if they aren't exactly hometown (Black Pyramid is technically based further west), still sees them on a regular and knows most if not all of the material.

Truckfighters [6.5/7]
I obviously hadn't seen Truckfighters before -- this was their first US tour, and they haven't played any of the festivals I've been to elsewhere -- and no one else who wasn't in Providence the night before was likely to have either, so for this set there was a lot of the odd dynamic of a band and an audience trying to figure each other out, to see what worked and what didn't. At the start, the response was a little flat, maybe a little frustrating for the band, but people got into it as the set went on, because seriously, how can you not get into this kind of bouncing, driving doom/fuzz/van/desert rock, Kyuss or Fu Manchu infused with the manic svenskpunk energy of a Millencolin or No Fun At All. Seriously, Dango gets more air onstage than anyone I've yet seen, and better than anyone except Jim (Aura of Aquila, Autumn Above) Joyce. (Sorry Jim, longer legs mean bigger hops.) They played all over their ten-year catalog, and straight up to the deadline -- no encore, despite pleading with the bar staff to go on a little longer. If anyone at this show complains about not getting enough Truckfighters out of this, though, they're straight mental -- or planned their parkinglot rituals incorrectly, which would also be a mental failure on their part.

It was 1:45 in the morning by the end, and not only did I have to work in the morning, but everyone was getting loudly shooed out by the staff. High-volume show, to say the least. I made it back, and somehow was able to cycle for the weekend -- the training helps, but more of it is festival mode coming back on line. Of course, the other two shows this weekend, and then catching up on tour prep stuff, meant that this didn't get written up for a while, but here goes, and the other two are in the pipeline as well.

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