Sunday, November 7, 2010

Mastodon, Between The Buried And Me, Baroness, Valient Thorr, (Crack Snakes?) April 25th, 2010 Higher Ground Ballroom Burlington, VT

Between The Buried And Me
Valient Thorr

(Crack Snakes?)

April 25th, 2010
Higher Ground Ballroom
Burlington, VT

(special thanks to M. Gardner for live band photos)

Even though Christopher Nolan's INCEPTION is all the rage at the moment (*unless you are raging at it...i liked it but am sort of completely in love with Marion Cotillard and took enough LSD in my life or was alienated by enough women to question the nature of all reality to the point that the film made perfect sense to me), I'm going to follow a basic MEMENTO theme here and go backwards in time. This narrative device will thus hopefully convey a proper sense of the disorientation which surrounded the weekend in question. In fact, such was the level of madness involved that it took a long time for this feature to climb out of my fogged brain at all, despite the awesomeness level of the rock and adventures at hand. Now, let's start at the happy ending and go backwards in time:

. Wow. Against Me! is really kicking ass right now. The new material from WHITE CROSSES is so good, some of my favorite stuff from them in years and the crowd is eating up this show. The title track is my favorite new song the band has put out in years, a potent pro-choice anthem AND a great tune. So glad we got Sharpy inside the venue again. This rules! Dead To Me was also great. One of the best live punk bands out right now and a kick ass band for Fat Wreck Chords. "Cruel World" was tight as hell and the band even recovered well from Chicken's bass rig glitching out. It was swell when he spiked his bass on the ground in rage and told kids not to ever do that, then did it again and said "fuck it" or something. The beer hippy guys loved them and had a bromantic time pogoing. MoneyBrother from Sweden really impressed me too. That guy warmed up the crowd from bored collegiate zero to not quite but just shy of 60. A really engaging and terrific Clash inspired folky performance. Cheers!

.Ok. We have disguised Kevin in a hoodie and he has a ticket but is gonna enter the building with the brewery guys because they are his height and also scruffy. If he goes in with us the bouncers will probably remember him because it is easy to remember that the big guy with the giant breasted loud mouthed Jewish girl and the scrawny bald guy was the troublemaker. Not to leave out Watson. He just blends.
.Met some tall dudes from a brewery in the Higher Ground Ballroom parking lot and they are feeding us beer they made. Hmmm... a plan is forming.

.THE RUNAWAYS was good. Needed much more Lita Ford, though. Love the opening scene with the period blood and thought Dakota was great. Even the Twilight chic did a darn good job as Joan Jett, which startled me because Twilight is so lame.

.Now that we have saved Kevin from jail it is time for a serious group Bloody Mary session.CRACK SNAKES REUNION TOUR! Maybe we could team up with Mastodon and form Crackstadon!!! Going to the movies after that and then gonna try and sneak Kevin into the club with us to see Against Me!

.Rescue Kevin from jail. He comes out and tells us great tales of his plight and I throw him a "Go To Jail" Monopoly shirt that I happened to have in my bag through the grace of the Gods/the whim of the Great Magnet:

.Johnny Watson, Lara and I spend all day looking for Kevin in the jails of Vermont and can get zero information from any police related official until a kindly janitor finally helps us and we locate him. Thanks kindly janitor! (I think that's what happened).

.Good morning! Everyone else is leaving but Lara, Johnny and I are going to stay behind in VT an extra day to rescue Kevin and hopefully see Against Me! play tonight so the weekend isn't a total (literal) "bust" for the big Kev man.

.Time for bed. Lara and Johnny and I stayed up late trying to prank order porn on the hotel room TV via Kevin's credit card as a passive aggressive way to get back at him for getting arrested. Lara does a great elderly Jewish lady impression and so we found the worst pay per view smut name possible and had her call the from desk to order it to the room. It didn't work but I'll never forget her saying into the phone. "Yes, Anthony. That is correct. Be a doll and approve it. Yes, that's right...I BANGED MY STEP MOM."

.Show's over. Back to the hotel. Maybe some tasty food stops beforehand.

.Mastodon killed it, though they sorta just stand around these days. Who cares though, 'cuz they are so insane anyway. Like the last time I saw them they played CRACK THE SKYE front to back. Highlights of that were "The Czar", which snakes and weaves and is plain entrancing and the massive and uplifting roar of "The Last Baron". Brent sounded really good on that one. For the rest of the show they did a smattering of tunes from their other records. The mellower, moody stuff from REMISSION works really well at showcasing where they would head with CRACK THE SKYE later. I like foreshadowing. Best song of the night in my opinion from the Mastodon boys was undoubtedly "Colony Of Birchmen", which has such punishing and gnarled mid tempo parts as to destroy any criticism of people who think they aren't cool now that they are a huge band. I hate that snobby shit. If you don't like the newer major label music they made as much, fine, but don't be an idiot and think any band this talented should be disrespected by being deemed irrelevant now that they did the unthinkable and wedged their mutant way into the international musical pop culture consciousness. I believe they even played "Aqua Dementia"!

.Between The Buried and Me were impressive. I was mostly blown away by their bassist who was so fluid and mellow, "effortlessly" leaping from transition to transition no matter what was going on. He really has that technical professionalism thing down completely. Heavier "Alaska" stuff still sat well with newer material and the crowd went ape for these dudes. THE GREAT MISDIRECT songs were rather mind blowing and truly lengthy but have so much atmosphere and vibe that it works. These guys are on top of their game, even if I don't like every vocal choice. I could still follow them around on tour like they were the Grateful Dead, though. Them touring with Mastodon is great. Nothing I hate more than when a good band has shitty openers to make themselves look better. This tour made everyone step their game up because every band is sick!

.Told one of the Valient Thorr guys the tale of our comrade's apprehension by the law and that he had gotten kicked out for being grief stricken at missing them play. His reply ," That guy's fuckin' cool."

.Baroness ruled the night by far (though, alas, we missed Valient Thorr who always rule the night, really).John Baizley and crew kept it more raw and engaging with the crowd than the other bands and they were just brilliant. BLUE RECORD stuff was huge live. "Swollen and Halo" gets everything right. Love those melodic guitars and the upsurge of the bass from Summer Welch as the song builds and builds. They are showing so much growth and are truly a force to be reckoned with. Kevin is gonna be so pissed he missed them.

.Turns out Kevin was so drunk that he was pushing people around and was really upset we missed Valient's set and even punched a security guy in the face! I asked the staff where he went and they said ,"away in a cop car." Interesting. That was a new record. We were in the venue ten minutes before Sharpy got kicked out! Wow. I was just looking at the crowd moshing around happy and bumping into each other and not doing any dumb, new school spin kick pit deathcore bullshit gayness and had been thinking ,"this crowd is alright. They are just happy metal stoners out to party." Turns out WE are the assholes. Awesome. It's cool. I love being from New York and have been developing a superiority complex about it. Cheers!

.Higher Ground Venue is awesome. They are lucky to have this place up here in Vermont! Really nice sized room with great sound and cool bar plus good merch set up. Rad.

.Outside Higher Ground the other car of friends has gone inside. Kevin Sharp is milling around with some kids from a Nu Metal band called COYLE from Albany,NY. They are pounding Jim Beam with Kevin and are amazed that we are also from New York and came all the way up here for this show as well. Still, Coil was one of the best "industrial" bands of all time and they should know not to have a nu metal weird spelling (ala Korn) version of the same band name as a legendary act. "How To Destroy Angels"?

.Kevin made us stop at the booze store near venue even though he had already slammed a ton of tall boys on the ride up and showed passing cars his penis. hmmm..... Our other friends arrive. Jesse Cunningham from the band The Blind Ambassadors and his gf plus photographer-punk Mike Gardner.

.On ride up Johnny Watson, Lara and I have decided to form a fake band with Kevin called CRACK SNAKES! We will have two rhythm sections and no guitars.I love fake bands. I have some other ones like Windy Napkin and Rising (Flaming) Fawn with some other friends.

.Tiger Piss play a show in New Paltz,NY the night before we leave for Vermont and just kill it. We stay up way too late drinking. Lara has a great voice and killer stage presence and is funny as hell. "Zombie Slave" is a great song and they also sing about vaginas sometimes. Kevin Sharp is my favorite taco store owning drummer.Lara's drummer in her other band Lara & The Champtones, Mr. John Watson, is a kind man and has offered to drive us all to Vermont where we will meet other NY friends and then kick some ass!

. Kevin Sharp, who owns a place in New Paltz called Taco Shack got a whole bunch of us rooms in Burlington,VT and actually got some time off from his own business to attend the concert with us. Gonna see Mastodon, Baroness, BTBM and fucking Valient Thorr (most importantly)!!!! Yeah, man. Best metal weekend ever coming up.

Ok. That's my version of events. Finally kids, for extra comedic value, here's Tiger Piss drummer Kevin Sharp's "review" of the show:

KEVIN SHARP: So a funny thing happened on my way to the drunk tank. Let me tell you about it.

It was my first two consecutive days off since we got back from our last Tiger Piss tour. A little over 2 months ago. We had tickets to the metal show of the decade. Mastodon, Baroness, Between the Buried and Me, and Valient Thorr. I had been on a serious Valient Thorr kick for the preceding 3 weeks. Something about a band of bad asses with professional beards just hits my special spot. I also happened to fall in love with Baroness' "Blue Album" around the same time. So I was fucking psyched.

Getting really cheap fancy hotels on priceline is one of my many unmarketable skills, so we had 2 bad ass rooms at the Burlington Sheraton. The ride was about 5 hours so I decided to pick up a sixer of High Life 16oz. Johnny Watson's ipod has a ridiculous amount of good shit. Some of the highlights included "California Uber Alles", "Looking down the barrel of a gun", and "Creeping Death".

The show started at 6:30 and Valient Thorr was the opener. We are very slow people so we were getting later and later as we drove. We might have been able to catch Valient if we hadn't stopped at the liquor store. Me and Lara both got fifths of Jim Beam. We asked the lady at the counter if we could sneak liquor into Higher Ground. She said no and I proceeded to tell her how adept at smuggling we were. I think I might have also given one of our friends (who may or may not have made a sex tape with Lady Gaga) a hard time for making a sex tape with Lady Gaga.

Regardless, we missed Valient Thorr. I put a fifth of Jim Beam to the face in a couple minutes in the parking lot. My blood alcohol content was probably at an indecent level when I woke up due to double whiskey and cokes at the show that we played the night before. The High Life didn't help, the Jim Beam was the knockout punch. I vaguely remember sharing shots with some dude from a metal band from Albany, with an unfortunate name that I can't remember.

I don't remember it, but apparently we got into the place as Baroness was playing. Morgan and Lara tell me that I was falling around and knocking people over. I lasted 10 minutes. I have vague flashes of being in the back of the cop car with zip tie cuffs on. Those things fucking hurt.

Everything afterward gets hazy until the Burlington drunk tank. There were about 25 of us in there, separated into 2 cells. None of us were arrested or charged with any crime. Apparently they can incarcerate you for 24 hours without any charges. Which is probably good in my case. At least I didn't get a fine.

They hold you in the cells until you can blow a zero on a breathalyzer. Every few hours the guards come in and give you the tests. When I started regaining consciousness and realized that I was trapped in a cell I started having some anger issues. Calling one of the guards Denzel Washington repeatedly and commenting on the state of physical conditioning of some of the others definitely did not endear me to the staff. Nor did my statements of my interpretation of my constitutional rights in regards to imprisonment.

After awhile I realized that I wasn't going to scream my way out. All of the guys in the cell were pretty chill. Mostly Vermont college kids. There was one older dude that had been in since 1 in the afternoon on the day before.

There was a jail cell style metal toilet in the corner so you had to piss in front of a room of dudes. One kid was laying on a mat near the toilet. Every 1/2 hour or so he would wake up and yak into it. He blew a 0 sometime in the morning while I was asleep and got released.

About 2a.m. they bring in this kid that got into a fight with a bouncer at a bar. The bouncer fucked him up and hurt his knee really bad and then called the cops and had him taken in. He wasn't wearing any pants and he was limping. He kept screaming about how he was going to bring his pit bull to the bar and have him eat the bouncer. Then he started screaming to the guards that he was going to chew his wrists open to kill himself. A guard came into the cell and gently explained to him that if he kept threatening to kill himself they would be forced to put him under 48 hour psychological evaluation, rather than releasing him in a few hours when he sobered up. He stopped screaming.

They fed us waffles for breakfast. I passed out for a few hours and at around 8 a.m. I blew a .02. They told me it would take about an hour and a half to get that out of my system, but they were only doing the tests every 3 hours or so. They gave us hot dogs and beans for lunch but I didn't even pick up my tray. At noon they tested me again and I blew a .05. The breathalyzer is not a completely accurate blood alcohol testing device. After dealing with the soul crushing reality that I was not getting out anytime soon I watched all of my cellmates blow 0s and get released. Even the "Chew my wrists open" fucker had his father come and get him out. Just me in the cell.

At about 12:45 they moved me and the soberist guy from the other holding cell into one of the cells that people stay in for months. It had the bunk bed cots and a toilet that got flushed remotely by the guard. At this point I hadn't smoked a cigarette in 15 hours and I didn't know if my friends had any idea where I was.

Me, Lara, Morgan Y. Evans, and Johnny Watson went to the Mastodon show together. On the ride up we decided to form a fake band called Cracksnakes. Despite the fact that we were 2 singers and 2 drummers in real life. At about 1:45 I got released. They were waiting outside the jail with my phone which was picked up at a police precinct 2 miles away, my cigarettes, a "Go directly to Jail" monopoly shirt, and a bunch of one liners.

We went out for bloody marys, chicken wings, and saw THE RUNAWAYS. Lara got us tickets to see Against Me! at the same venue the next night. I put on a hat and a hoodie and snuck back in. A Fat Wreck Chords band Dead to Me rocked the fucking house with a drummer that made me wish I was better and Against Me! killed it. Maybe I'm just not meant to have 2 days off in a row but all in all it turned out to be a fun weekend.

Oh yeah, and…