This was the first show I'd ever attended where each and every band was of the grindcore persuasion. It was, quite literally, a blast. Ingrowing were certainly of interest, but it was really Flourishing that got me to come out on this night. I couldn't pass up a chance to check out the band whose debut EP blew my head off.
I was under the impression the show would start at 8:00, but bands were still loading in an hour after that. I wasn't concerned at the time; Jeanne Fury and I enjoyed the excellent beer at the Charleston while watching the Yankees embarrass the Mets on the television. Justina Villanueva joined us after a while. We eventually felt the sounds of metal reverberating from the basement and descended into the Charleston's austere subterranean music space.
The first band up was Buckshot Facelift from Long Island. These guys have evidently been around for a while, and my cursory listen to their music on Myspace had me quite interested. Buckshot Facelift certainly didn't disappoint. The sound system in the basement of The Charleston consisted of two lonely PA speakers. Despite this, every band sounded fantastic on this night. Napalm Death was the primary impression I got from the band, who displayed all around precision and skill. The imposing front-man, Will, prowled the floor while emanating absurdly guttural grunts and yells. He definitely brought to mind Barney but with the added ability to produce an unearthly, bubbling gurgle. The bass was high in the mix and gave everything a nice bounce. I was impressed enough to want to buy some of their music. Unfortunately for me, their newest album, Anchors of the Armless Gods, was only available in vinyl. That makes three shows so far this year where I wanted to buy a CD and the band only had vinyl. Ponder that.
The next band was Backslider from Philadelphia. The band consisted of two dudes who looked incredibly young. Their looks, however, belied their absurd skills. The guitar player took care of vocals while plying a grind/hardcore/powerviolence hybrid that mostly evoked Magrudergrind to my untrained ears. The drummer sat low on the floor and played with such extreme energy and speed that folks in the crowd pushed up just to see what he was doing. His facial expressions were a sight to behold. People stood there with looks of amazement on their faces as the band whipped out an array of songs that mostly clocked in at less than a minute. Very cool. This was the point where I really started to regret having forgotten my camera.
The basement space had filled in quite nicely, and I started to recognize faces in the crowd. Aaron Nichols of Defeatist enjoyed a beer while Andrew Hock of Castevet enjoyed many beers. Eventually, the guys from Krallice showed up with Kevin Hufnagel of Dysrhythmia and Luc Lemay of Gorguts in tow. You have to understand that I'd been drinking for quite a while at this point, and I somehow ended up having a conversation with Luc Lemay. It's hard to be starstruck when you're jammed into a dark basement, but it was even harder to understand what the man was saying; I find a French Canadian accent impenetrable at the best of times. The main thing I gathered from the conversation was that he was truly excited to get Gorguts back out on the road and even more excited to show off some of the new songs they'd written. He even rattled off a list of songs the band were practicing for the tour, but I could barely comprehend it. My impression was that it clearly spanned the entire Gorguts catalog. The guy was gracious to indulge in conversation with a complete drunken stranger, so I appreciated that. I'm very much looking forward to seeing them in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
The Communion set up next, and you could tell a good number of people had come out to support them. I believe this was the band's first show without their recently deceased guitarist, Lee Altomare. While I'm new to the band's music, I'd read about Lee's passing in various places. The vocalist, Nick, spoke briefly about Lee before breaking the somber mood and kicking into the music. The Communion draw from a mind numbing array of influences, but their unique grinding blackened crusty thrash was a beautiful thing to behold in person. Simultaneously tight and flailing madly in all directions, I can totally dig this music. After fulfilling their upcoming touring plans, which includes the Maryland Death Fest this weekend, the band plan to change their name and soldier on in Lee's absence as Kanalbrigade. I'd definitely check these guys out if you're heading to MDF.
I got a chance to speak to Eric Rizk, Flourishing's friendly bass player. He told me Flourishing were planning to play some new songs, and that the venue had a supposed 1:00 curfew. The band had swapped billing spots with Ingrowing, who were hoping to get out of the venue early to grab some extra sleep. A bit of jet lag is understandable when you're traveling from the Czech Republic, I suppose. This didn't bode well for me, as the evening was already moving past midnight, and my commuter rail carriage definitely turns into a pumpkin. Ingrowing set up quickly and drove deep into their unrelenting, jackhammer take on grindcore. They sound similar to Misery Index to my ears, and their recorded music wouldn't generally be my cup of tea. The band, however, sounded great and everyone in the room seemed to be rocking out hard to their performance. Vocalist and bassist Patrik "Vlakin" Stanek thanked us repeatedly for showing up in a very broken English, but his joy in simply being there was infectious. The rhythm section were tight as hell, and the sound was particularly good. Ingrowing certainly make music that comes across well in the live setting, despite a complete lack of groove. Jon Chang would approve. They're also playing again in NYC at Fontana's this Thursday and at MDF this weekend.
Flourishing set up incredibly fast. The band, playing on their home turf, definitely had the most complicated gear setup of the evening. At the very least, Brian Corcoran's drum kit was an order of magnitude bigger than anyone else's. A track from their mind-crushing debut EP led things off. The first thing that became apparent was that the rhythmic insanity of the recorded music is no studio magic. Brian Corcoran and Eric Rizk fucking tear it up while Garett Bussanick saws his guitar with blinding speed and howls unreservedly. As promised, I'm pretty sure the band played a couple of new songs, which sounded incredible. These guys are the real deal.
By the fourth song I realized I was in the red for time. It broke my heart to leave while Flourishing were destroying the joint, but Metro North is a harsh mistress. My business with this band is unfinished; I definitely need to see them again. They're playing at Castevet's record release show at the Lit Lounge on June 7th, but I'll be out of town. It'll happen eventually.
I spent the entire train ride home trying to wrap my alcohol-addled brain around my chat with Luc Lemay. What the hell did he say?
You can find pictures of this show here.