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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Concert Review: Witch w/ Earthless and Children @ Music Hall of Williamsburg 02/25/09

“Oh I’ve been waiting for Sweet Sue”… And the night at last arrived. Welcome one and all to the tenth installment of the Jay Porks Never Ending concert series which brings us back to the Music Hall of Williamsburg for the second straight event. The headliner, the main event, the band I came to see: “Witch”. The newest band Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis is in, only in Witch he returns to his first instrument; the drums. Two other bands playing are “Earthless” and “Children”. Both of those bands are new to me, and hence probably new to the general public. To put it plainly, this is probably the closest thing to a “metal show” (and I use that term exceedingly loosely) than I’m going to get in a real long time. So it’s fit for an interesting night to say the least.

The supply and demand factor of the happy hour didn’t seem to make much sense. From 7-8 its 3 dollar drafts beers, something that was advertised on the ticket last time I was here but it wasn’t lived up to. but here it is, happy hour. And who’s here? I mean, the doors open at 8 so I’m guessing the crowd is going to be a little not so weighty; but I didn’t expect it to be 6 bartenders talking about when they’re getting weed and myself at the bar. I wish I could have got in on that conversation but I had weed, what I didn’t have was paper; and I don’t mean the type you roll with. I mean, I left home with not a sheet of blank paper to take notes on, I brought the pen for some reason, but no paper, pad, nothing. I got lucky to have left my ticket in its envelope, so I took notes on the back of that. It worked out okay. 

Sat at the bar for what felt like hours, maybe days in anticipation for this show to start. So finally nine o’clock rolls around and I see out of the blue bunch of people start heading in. Where we’re all of you 5 seconds ago was the question I asked myself personally. For an opening act a pretty good amount of people there, most only show up for the headliner.

So I was camped more towards the back of the room when Children hit the stage. They have two guitars(one of which is the vocalist on occasion) a bass and a drummer; a given. Then when they hit that first chord; it was LOUD. It was deafening. They played hard for like a few minutes and I started to think that they were a jam band sort of like Earthless with no vocals but then one of the guitarist started singing. It was a harsh scream, not a “screamo” scream or a real deal death metal sort of sound. Quick, everyone make sure your hair covers your entire face!! It looked as if they were doing it on purpose, the way they swing they’re hair right back towards the front, it got a little annoying. I was getting into the sound though, I felt I wasn’t getting any less then I expected. Then they played a song called “Deathtrap”. The dude sounded like he wanted to cover Megadeath so bad. The vibe was so face paced too, and the guitar work was not one of amateur proportions I’ll say that too. They played skillfully with reckless abandonment. Not necessarily my genre of choice, but for what they were going for, which is full fledged metal band; they did well. After their set when I went out for a cig I noticed I was feeling a little deaf-ish . They were really loud.

Hailing from sunny San Diego, California, the next band up is Earthless. I heard from a friend that they’re were insane (in the good sense) so I was pretty excited. Plus, if J Mascis has them on tour with his new band and they also did a split 7’’ together. I read up on them and they’re labeled as “psychedelic rock” (in addition to maybe other attributes) and known for instrumental/free flowing 15 minute jams. Also, has the lede into they’re bio on the band is “The San Diego-based stoner rock trio Earthless feature the talents of Nebula guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, Electric Nazarene bass player Mike Eginton, and Hot Snakes/Clikitat Ikatowi drummer Mario Rubalcaba (who also played with Rocket from the Crypt under the alias Ruby Mars).” Stoner rock? They’re MySpace page says they’re a psychedelic jam band. I love it either way. And they did not disappoint. Imagine just an in-between song jam then adding some really “acid” guitar in there, playing heavy off the feedback and just keeping certain parts going for minutes and minutes and minutes at a time. And I have to tell you, this dude Isaiah Mitchell has amazing hand speed and switches extremely clean for someone in a free form psychedelic stoner rock jam band who I’ve never heard of. During their last song, the drummer Mario lost grip on the drumstick but I swear it like hit the pad and bounced right back in his hand and his totally saved it. A majority of the crowd noticed it, and I heard people going “ohhhhhhhh”, you know stuff like that. But they we’re just non-stop, the hypnotic solos that absolutely mesmerized everybody in the place. The jam underneath the noise, tight rhythm section; Great freaking band. You can sample their music for free at TEEPEERECORDS.COM
Now on to the one and only Witch; the question that really needed to be answered was: is just another J Mascis facade in which he is the band or not. It became clear after about the first or second song that this was not another case of J Mascis and the Fog, with him in the back drumming (he had to take off his usual think geeky looking glasses so they wouldn’t be in the way); you really get to notice Kyle Thomas’s front man ability. He had this cool guitar that was like a shade of blue or something with a sticker on it. He wore a baseball cap that said Las Angeles on it, long hair, green flannel and jeans that look like he’s owned them since he was ten years old. That’s what I call hard rock right there. Powerful riffs that had such melody yet at the same time break down and take turns you wouldn’t normally expect to hear. The start-stop aspect, the way the lyrics aren’t sang normal, but its not like a scream at all. It’s not even a howl or growl. It’s more like just loud singing. Like, just saying the words louder; the aesthetic was soothing. Almost as soothing as the thick, spellbinding guitar riffs. The distortion levels were amazing, made my pants vibrate at times. They played everything anyone needed to hear, I think they’re whole catalog. When “Gone” came on I think second song I was already on the “holy shit-this rocks” mode. The way they slow down and get all murky on you and then they say that heaven doesn’t know your name and. Sweet Sue, you’re a sinner. That song was second to last, that might be my favorite song by them. The place ended up getting pretty packed out; a lot of people during my outings smoking cigarettes were talking about Dinosaur Jr. This is a long cry from Dino. Its great stuff, its not only new stuff but it’s NOW stuff. From the murky slums of Dave Sweetapple and J Mascis’s minds spawns some music that is far superior then most of this non sense that’s out now. Witch totally rocked it.

So there you go, Witch w/ Earthless and Children. A show that I really couldn’t have asked for much more out of. I got two extremely talented and good opening acts and Witch live is so much better then the CD I’m listening to right now. They open up the bottom a little more, if that makes any sense. Next stop on the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series may not be until the Melvins come to Webster Hall on May 15th. It's their 25th Anniversary Tour  and they're set to be Performing 'houdini' in its entirety. Also tickets are purchase for 'Cake' at Terminal 5 for May 29th AND on June 6th the summer series kicks off with Nine Inch Nails and Janes Addiction at the PNC Bank Arts Center; Homedel, NJ. See everybody there I guess.

++Please if you know of a good show that would be right up my alley E-mail me at I don’t see much going on, maybe someone has some inside information++