A month and a half is too long in between gigs, but it happened, partly due to inconveniently-timed on-call shifts, partly due to laziness, and partly due to getting sent to goddamned Canada in the middle of it. I'd passed on two other Roggie's shows due to concerns about transit (and laziness), but with another Canadian deployment looming -- which would cause me to miss Wormed and Infernal Revulsion -- I had to get over to this one, and the earlier start/finish due to a noise violation (not for one of the metal shows) earlier in the week made that a more attractive proposition to do by T.
It wasn't a clinically perfect ride over -- I really should've bailed out of the bus at Porter rather than bumping another 10-15 minutes through Cambridge -- but despite the nine million people wedging the train until bailing out at Kenmore for the Sox game, I got out to Cleveland Circle about as well as could be anticipated, and then stumped the rest of the way up to the venue. I was initially a little confused about where exactly the show was at; no door dude visible, and the visible parts of the place were, like, empty, despite it being well after doors. Fortunately, some of the Phantom Glue folks showed up, loading in, around the same time, and headed straight for the basement. I followed, paid Blue my $8 on entry, and got myself situated.
Roggie's, despite an inconvenient location at the ass end of the Green Line but without reliable parking nearby, is in a lot of ways the kind of venue that Boston needed: a basement show with a liquor license, and a club that's willing to work with bands rather than give them the boot. The downsides are limited; besides the access thing, this is a small room that was pretty damn full with 30 patrons, making shows with a more expensive guarantee a dicey proposition, and the limited space in combination with the kind of weird layout means people are frequently stumbling over each other. The upsides, though, are huge: this is an intimate venue with a positive staff a stone's throw off public transit, and they do 25oz beers for $1 more than a normal draft of the same. That's like the "50 McNuggets for $10" of metal. I shouldn't have to explain this; suffice to say that literally everyone at this show who was drinking beer was drinking it out of one of the big mugs, all the time, and if Roggie's keeps having metal gigs downstairs, 25oz is going to be the standard, and "small" drafts will be $1 off.
Eventually, of course, I got over the novelty of having an almost Germanic-sized container of Molson available for $4 and actually started drinking it, looked over the merch to plan out where the remaining contents of my wallet were going to get strewn out to, and Living Void finished setting up and started playing.
Living Void soundchecking. Roggie's is, as mentioned, an intimate venue, and I haven't figured out how to turn the flash off on my phone, so I wasn't going to be that d-bag strobing the crowd while people are watching the band; hence photos only with the lights on.
Living Void [5/7]
In the long time since I'd last seen this band, they've cut back a guitar player and further developed their sound. What we got was a solid set of Napalm Death-styled grind, the simple and elemental concept of punk/death metal code switching, mostly fast but with more than a few bulldozingly slow parts; solid without really being exceptional. I remain, probably, the wrong audience for grindcore, but this was a good time, a good warmup for the following bands, and an excellent test of the acoustics. Roggie's is too small for a full PA, so the vocals were coming out of a speaker by the bar, and everything else was straight out of the cabs, but in contrast to some other small venues, now and then, you could hear everything and the band wasn't too loud for the room. And when a grindcore band isn't too loud for the room, it's difficult to think of what kind of band is going to be.
Casuals probably know of this band, if at all, because Anthony used to be in Revocation, but people seeing them should also pay attention to Mike Read's uniquely barbaric take on playing drums. He was less mad at his gear than in the past, but still showing off his signature technique of bashing the fuck out of his rides with as close to the whole barrel of the stick as possible. This can't be long-term healthy for the stick or the cymbal, but hitting this way does produce a pretty distinctive sound.
In the break, I got another beer, then picked up a shirt and CD from Gigan, on the theory that I was going to sometime, and I might as well kill time sooner rather than later. Eric comped me a poster in the process, which I had no easy way of carrying, but I took it anyway. The folds will come out sometime.
The whole lineup didn't make it all the way from Melbourne, but Dan and Ricki picked up a touring vocalist from this continent and gave us a brutal, straight-up shot of goregrind. The quotes from bands out of the first wave of death metal were occasionally transparent, and there's a limited amount you can do to make goregrind exceptional, but this was still a fun, heavy, mile-a-minute asskicking. I've bitched about merely functional bands dragging themselves out of Australia in the past, but Odiusembowel got well past the 'functional' level, and a tour of gigs like this, in comparison to airfares out of Australia, is not intended as a moneymaker: this is a circuitous working vacation in the US, playing local gigs like local dudes, and the audience here reacted to them like any other local Boston band in this setting. Good times.
In this break, I got another beer, and went over to try to get a shirt out of the Kiwi-transplants, because seriously, airfare out of Oz is fucking expensive (I checked it out trying to set up another trip, but couldn't do it financially in the same year as Russia). The band, of course, were busy breaking down, so I got to talking with Juan (Untombed) and Alex (Scaphism, Forced Asphyxiation), and ended up hearing about a potential coming tour on the level of the Wormed-Infernal Revulsion package that I'm missing on this deployment. Nothing is final yet, so I'm not going to go leaking stuff, but if this comes off, those who miss it will be turning in their graves.
Phantom Glue [5.5/7]
I hadn't seen these dudes for a while either, and like Living Void, they've also taken it up a notch. Their basic doom sound remains, but they've started to bring in more melodic elements and more guitar leads, resulting in a cumulative effect that recalls a doom version of 1985-vintage Metallica. I'm pretty detached from the mainstream, but still hear enough to recognize that this might be something the likes of BrooklynVegan would be all over; nothing wrong with appealing to a wider audience, if you can, and doing so while still playing basement shows with terminally underground bands should insulate you from charges of sellout. This was by any measure the least heavy band of the night, but dudes were still into them, and despite a few problems with vocals cutting through at the start, a more than solid performance.
Here I finally got that shirt off Odiusembowel, being the whole of the merch they had available. Support bands, always, and especially support bands who come from the literal far ends of the earth -- and it's a pretty neat design to boot.
With the time counting down to the enforced end of business, Gigan started up, in fog and pinging sound effects, and almost immediately as they hit into it, added strobe lights and buzzers from the rear of the hall. It worked with their sound, but wasn't intended or positive -- their smoke machine had set off the fire alarm. The lights went up shortly, but significantly, the plug did not get pulled, and while the lights went up, the band continued on, fogger shut off, as the staff vented the room back through the kitchen access area. No disruption to the set or show. If you go to DIY gigs, you know how huge this is, and how rare it is for this to be the case, rather than venue staff spitting the dummy when the band does something disruptive, even unintentionally.
Gigan with the lights on. Since this wouldn't be any more disruptive than having the lights up, why not picture?
The band of course powered on, crushing as well as headwreckingly complex, right up until the 10:30 cutoff. It felt a little short, but good performances always do, and this was set up to go on later; regardless, there's every indication that they got their whole set, or maybe the whole set but one, in, and the assembled folks were ceaselessly appreciative. Killer conclusion to a really, really, good night of heavy music.
On the way out, I nabbed Living Void's new Squalor, because they only had it on vinyl, and vinyl doesn't belong in your hands at a DIY show any longer than absolutely necessary. After this, I bailed immediately, because I had two trains and a bus to catch, and hadn't timed any of this out. As it was, I probably could have stuck a little; the next train was at 10:50, and there was probably another one in the early 11 o'clock hour that would have gotten me to Park in time to catch the Red Line up to Harvard before the last of the 77s rolled out. Regardless, I got back to my place shortly before midnight, unslung my stuff, and sacked out. I might have had a shorter commute by car, but the route is twisty and turny all through the back of the northern inner-ring suburbs, and that would have meant fewer 25oz beers; it's a tradeoff I'm willing to make.
As noted, Canada means no Wormed, so the next gig is probably Dying Fetus in Worcester for Halloween; there's two more after that, and things may go to shit at work depending on how this deployment goes, but from my perspective, "no Wormed, Infernal Revulsion, Condemned, Cognitive, and Parasitic across the street from my normal bar, and one train and one bus out of my house" is already pretty well gone to shit.