Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bobfest V day 1 [O'Brien's, Allston, 4/14/2012]

One way or another, I overcame some bad decisions to get over to the venue mostly in time, and battled most of the way to the end; I had to sacrifice the second day due to recuperation time, but it's better to get through this now rather than in four months. I'm not in festival shape yet, and now, rather than bumming my way through central Germany, is when to realize this and start getting back into fighting trim. If I'd been tenting locally rather than having to drive, I'd've finished, then taken a lot of day 2 in as well, but the principles are important enough to deserve the emphasis.

The specific principles, of course, are pretty easy. 1), don't start drinking Guinness on an empty stomach at 11AM after boozing the night before. 2), don't sesh it up at the fitba bar if you have anything else you need to do the rest of the day. Especially when there's a lag between the FA Cup games and the Spanish league kickoffs and people start sending rounds around out of sheer boredom.

I ended up leaving the Phoenix only a little later and a little drunker than planned, and the hike over the bridges was easy enough, so I got more or less straight in -- despite getting my steel taken off me at the door, which was unnecessary but absolutely correct -- and saw most of Barren Oak's set. I was kinda bummed to miss Set, but them, I'll likely have another shot at seeing sooner.

Barren Oak [5.5/7]
As noted, I didn't get the whole of Barren Oak's set, but what I was in for was quite good, definitely proving the proposition that black metal -- if, admittedly, droning third-wavey black metal -- can be carried off by bass and drums as well as drums and guitar. The shorter set and shorter exposure within that set may have helped with the focus -- if some stuff was repeated from the start, I wasn't in the building initially to hear it -- but on balance this was a good performance that I'd rather have heard more of; hopefully Alex can get another drummer sorted in the near future (this was the drummer's last gig before leaving) and continue on with the project. Fuck black metal, hail black metal!

In here I went and picked up dinner off Asia Wok again, and managed to get back and ensconced in the corner with my chow before Rozamov started up. I could probably have picked better food for avoiding exhaustion later (this ended up being 16 hours of activity and about 10 beers iirc on an Irish breakfast, a vegan mapo tofu, and a grilled cheese sandwich), but this also is a lesson for the future.

Rozamov [5/7]
I hadn't seen this band before, and accordingly went in with absolutely flat expectations. They turned in a nice but kind of undiversified set of good, functional doom metal that kept the audience grooving, even if it didn't break down a lot of barriers. It'll be interesting to see how and where they develop from here, but at this point Rozamov're still just one among many good heavy-doom bands in the area.

Dead Languages bent the doom flow back in more of a grind direction, turning in a solid set that ultimately came off a little unfulfilling. They might have used more runtime, and some of it was the band sticking closer to the songs as structured rather than letting their energy out, but both cases are probably on the same root cause; as Dawn mentioned later, they're working out a new drummer, and while he was able to learn the set right quick, there's always going to be a bedding-in period replacing members. Dead Languages' material still kicks ass, and it'll be more surprising if they don't kick on from here and take it up a notch in the near future than if they do.

It was probably in here that I got yelled at for looking like I was nodding off at the bar, and headed outside to cool down. Apologies to the O'B's staff; in the future, I'll eat better and spend less time swapping blackout stories with Ethiopian dudes before all-day shows.

Coming back in, most of Faces of Bayon were setting up for what would ultimately not be a Faces set, in a slot other than where they were scheduled originally. Their drummer's having some health issues (get well soon) and wasn't able to play, so Matt and Ron shifted their timeslot around and brought over this project, which was a drone/noise experiment that drew enough from Faces of Bayon's sludgy, atmospheric, funeral-doom side to retain ratable metal content. The band, obviously, would much rather have played as Faces of Bayon, and the audience would probably rather have seen that performance, but the Lazar House material was a cool interlude outside the main run of the bill, and definitely cool to be able to see live.

Between the near-sellout crowd and the general environmental heat (summer decided to come to Boston this weekend), it was flat boiling inside, so between sets from here on it was out to the sidewalk to chill down, sing random stretches of Blind Guardian songs, and see the members of the new Coffin Birth (headlining this show) lineup meet each other for the first time. Festivals, how it is.

KYOTY [6.5/7]
This performance was the highlight of the night -- at least as long as I could stay -- and compensated by its awesomness for reinforcing the fact that I should have been kicking myself around the block for missing them last time. KYOTY (Keep Your Opinions To Yourself, formally) laid down a set of deep and punishing instrumental doom metal that definitely benefitted from the band's atmospheric tweaks -- lights off, supplemental lighting under the bass drum -- but would probably have been 90-95% as cool in a random parking lot in bright sunlight. The band delivered at a next level on both composition and volume, and pretty much crushed everything in front of them. Should you have missed them here, or on other occasions, you should be kicking yourself as well.

I hadn't seen this band in the last six months, and in the meantime they've taken several solid steps up: the practice of a near-three-week tour, and also bringing in Tom from Soul Remnants on second guitar. Adding the second guitar has really taken up the power of the band to another level, working more malice and violence into the more diversified and matured songwriting. Forced is still mostly about weed, and most of their best and best-received material is still about weed, but they're closer to Cannibal Corpse than Cannabis Corpse, developing as a generalist brutal death metal band rather than a one-note novelty act. They're also developing into a seriously, seriously good death metal band; when they eventually get a record out, or even a demo that wasn't recorded live, it's going to be essential for eastern New England, and pretty much an automatic pickup should you see these guys on the road.

Hessian (PA) [6/7]
They got their fog cut off, and their candle snuffed, but the Pennsylvanian Hessian didn't need these to set up a smashing first-class set of blackened thrashing music. Those outside Boston, or those less stuck into our underground, would probably liken them to a blacker Skeletonwitch rather than to Nachzehrer, if they'd had more members in common with Razormaze longer, but the first comparison misses out on a nontrivial degree of the power that this band delivered. As much as I like the Maine Hessian, it's hard to see, on the evidence of this set, the eventual epic mask bout for the name going any way but south. (Whether you disagree, or think that it'd easily go to one side or the other, the verdict's the same: you have more of another Hessian to go listen to.) As shown on this sample, Hessian do tour around on the East Coast, so if you miss this band by accident, or worse, by intent, it's going to go on your permanent record.

After Hessian, I was pretty much beat, and flipped a coin to see whether I'd try to tough it out for Alekhine's Gun and Coffin Birth, or head off and get some sleep, then try to come back in for day 2. It came up "head out", and so I did, stumping the long way back and managing to avoid falling asleep on the drive home. Unfortunately, Celtic lost in the Cup on Sunday, I got bummed out, then lost out to heat and motivation when it came time to decide how the hell I was getting in to Radio. Regrets by the score, but lessons learned -- and hopefully in time for a thick stretch of shows coming, with Aggressor tonight, Engorged Thursday, Dysentery Sunday, Superchrist next Tuesday, and Inquisition next Saturday, with another Metal Thursday in the mix as well. That RFM means I have to do better getting to shows -- and doing better at getting to shows means I'll be more effective getting the gathered materials out come August.

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