Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gaza, Defeatist, Tiger Flowers and Don't Give a Fuck at The Acheron, Brooklyn, 11-12-2011

     On my way into Brooklyn, my friend Eric (bassist of Flourishing) asked me if I wanted to meet up for dinner before the show.  Since I hadn't eaten yet, I took him up on the offer.  After parking near the venue on a deserted industrial side street of Bushwick, I walked a few blocks over to meet him and his girlfriend, Alison, at a Roberta's Pizza.  We were shocked to find out that the wait was two and a half hours to be seated.  Really Roberta's, 2.5 hours for pizza?!?  Other hipsters looked dismayed as they were turned away at the door by the ridiculous wait.  Bushwick is rumored to be the next Williamsburg, but it has a long way to go.  It does have its fair share of indie coffee shops, restaurants and bars, so it didn't take us long to find an alternative.  We settled on a nearby Mexican restaurant, Taqueria El Fogon.  This establishment was super authentic, from the food to the decor.  My fish tacos paired nicely with a Negra Modelo, but I regret not having a chorizo taco. 

     After the fine fare, we made our way over to the venue.  While walking through the streets, Alison noted that this area seems really gritty, in a quiet, cold and post-industrial kind of way.  This is in line with my earlier assessment of Bushwick, or at least these couple of blocks.  Dinner ran a little late, and we didn't make it to The Acheron until about 9 PM.  After joking with the door guy about the authenticity of my $100 bill, I went in.  Note to self: why am I always carrying large bills at shows?  Maybe it's subconscious thoughts of hitting the merch table hard later in the night.  Anyway, I heard a few chords from the opener, Don't Give a Fuck, and then made my way to the bathroom.  Word on the street is that the Acheron is a DIY spot, and in true punk spirit the bathroom had no soap.  Uncleansed, I headed back to the stage area only to find that DGaF finished there set. 
     The Acheron's stage area is long, narrow and dark, and off to the left is another small room for merch and a bar.  The walls are adorned with colorful flyers from previous shows.  The special for the night was a can of Busch and a shot of your choice for 5 bucks.  Since I had to drive back to NJ later that night, I went for something a little more tame, a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  We met up with my friend Curran (Wetnurse, Today is the Day, Precious Metal) at the bar.  Today is the Day recently played the MetalSucks Fest the previous weekend, so we talked about that for a while and the progress of his many other creative projects.  Eager to see local favorites Tiger Flowers, we went back to the stage area.  The last time I saw Tiger Flowers was at the Cake Shop in Manhattan with Flourishing and a generic NeurIsis clone from Norway, the name of which escapes me.  Damn, they have grown into quite a formidable beast in the live setting.  First off is the singer who is high energy and has over the top stage presence. Couple that with their burly, noisy and intelligent hardcore, and you're in for a treat.  Tracks like Weight come across so well live.  The drummer plays with heart and not technicality.  The bass player however is much more precise, switching from pick to fingers when appropriate and even doing some slap work at times.  The day after the show, I was so impressed with them that I picked up their new EP on Amazon.  It didn't set me back much; a mere $3.96 for a 4 track ep, so do yourself a favor and buy it now.  Overall the ep doesn't quite stand up to their live show, but it's still very high quality for a first release.  As they mature more as a band and continue to play out, their material will only improve.  

     At the conclusion of Tiger Flowers set, Eric and I went to the bar for another round of Sierra Pale Ales.  We ran into Doug, the vocalist of local tech-death heroes, Pyrrhon. It was my first time meeting him, though I've seen his band a few times.  I remember complementing him on his menacing stage presence.  Their new album, An Excellent Servant but a Terrible Master is out now, but I can't seem to find it on itunes or amazon for digital purchase.  Hopefully they will have physical copies at their next show.  Things started to get loud and nasty in the other room.  Defeatist were up.

     A few days prior to the show, Defeatist announced that they are breaking up.  If my memory serves me correctly, their statement said something to the effect that 'this turd needs to finally be flushed down the toilet.'  Though I've never been very fond of them, their assessment of themselves is a bit too harsh.  Bassist Josh  and drummer Joel played some Radiation Blackbody to warm up.  That's their noisy math rock side project which I highly recommend.  Defeatist's set was, well Defeatist.  Their grind is short, fast and right to the point.  That's usually the case with grind, but they just don't give you anything to grab onto.  There's no meat on the bone.  They're like a grind light switch: grind on; grind off.  Their skill set is top notch though, especially Joel.  Drummers out there should take note of his ability to control volume and precision at hyper speeds.  

     All the way from Utah, Gaza were up to headline.   Last year I got my hands on their album, He is Never Coming Back (Black Market Activities, 2010).  It didn't do too much for me and was sort of in one ear and out the other.  Albeit bruising, burly and brutal, I didn't quite get their wide spread appeal.  That was of course until I saw them perform.  Some bands are clearly must see live bands, and Gaza fit into this category. Now I see why they have had a strong influence on other bands such as Engineer, Bone Dance and Tiger Flowers.  Their volume was just massive. One of the guitarist's speaker cabinets was this monstrous grey beast (see pic below).  I don't know what brand it is but I've never seen anything like it.  The vocalist, who stood at an imposing 6'5"+, ran into the crowd and picked someone up and carried them into the back of the venue on a few occasions.  At one point it was the crowd doing gang vocals versus me, and me versus the wall.  Guess who won?  The wall.  Yea, it was that kind of show and worth every moment.