Despite the strain and liver commitments of the fitba season kickoff, I managed to get out of the bar and sobered up in time to drive on back up to my old home town for what promised to be a fairly odd show. With what appeared to be plenty of time, I stowed my car in one of the many practically-free lots ($0.25/hour, not enforced after 5 pm) between Cabot and Rantoul Streets, then hiked over to get some good, fairly-cheap Indian food at Anmol before going the last block up to the bar. This was only a little after five, the initially-declared doors, but the bands had been pushed earlier (to avoid conflicts with the Black Light Body Paint Experience party kicking off at 7) and I missed Reproacher and the very start of Plebeian Grandstand coming inside.
Plebeian Grandstand [5/7]
What I did see of Plebeian, though, was a strong vindication of the decision to come up for the gig. There's a lot of different ways you can do third-wave black metal, but the way that they do it is unadorned, direct, and kvlt, picking up a lot more from Leviathan and Striborg than the likes of Alcest. They had some electronics out of a sample box, and more than a few hardcore touches around the grimy edges of their sound, but this is a legit black metal band, and a pretty good one at that.
Plebeian Grandstand raging under Christmas lights.
In the break I got a Shiner, talked with some old friends, including on the topic "it is so damn weird to see touring bands in this bar", and did a first-run merch grab that included making sure I got something out of Reproacher, at least, before settling back for Hexis.
Direct, intense, and violent, Hexis pounded out a straight-ahead set of relentless blackened hardcore that turned the flip side of what Plebeian Grandstand were doing. This was necessarily a little less diverse, but still excellent in quality, and in a region that's produced Morne and Trap Them, it's kind of a shame that they weren't able to get in front of a larger audience at the likes of Anchors Up or the Democracy Center. Those who were there, though, got a kickass set, and one that still got out with the sun up.
After nabbing one CD and a pin -- they were sold out of the other they brought across, so I'll probably have to dig it up on bandcamp or something -- I headed out to meet up with my youngest brother and find something else to do, it still being damn early. This, hopefully, will become less irregular in the future: the somewhat over-the-top local boosterism in the intro aside, Spotlight (which used to be the Overtime the last time I saw metal bands there) is not a bad place for a show, and Beverly is not a bad town to see gigs in. While the room setup is weird and they don't clear enough tables out to get to a decent capacity, the Spotlight is about as big as Roggie's (off the list, probably, due to legal problems) or O'Brien's pre-renovation and definitely viable for DIY touring or local shows in that capacity. As regards transit, Beverly has better rail access than any other town on the northern 128 belt (the Depot gets every train on both the Newburyport and Rockport lines) and better highway access than any other town on the commuter rail (62 drops you right in downtown, and there are all those practically-free lots). It's not better than Anchors Up or Sammy's Patio -- both larger rooms with a larger built-in local audience -- but depending on your access method it may be easier to get to, and it's realistically better than the likes of Champions or random metal-detected nightclubs in Saugus as far as second-tier venues between Boston and the NH border go. Spotlight is making a decent fist of it as a music venue mostly on the back of cover bands and college-town dynamics (there is an art school downtown, and a preppy SLAC for academically-disadvantaged children of financially-gifted parents out on the fringes), but it's not impossible that they might get decent shows on a semi-regular basis going forward.