DOWN, WARBEAST gig review

Down. Warbeast, and Mount Carmel Got My Crippled Ass Rocking!

Camaraderie. That’s one of the things that have drawn me to live hard rock and metal shows over the years. Until the last couple years, and sporadic shows during those years, there’s always been a strong brotherhood (and sisterhood) at metal shows; a musical bond that runs deeper than that really. With the overall increased doucherie people exhibit these days in general, I have sadly watched as one of my favorite pastimes has fallen prey to this- assholes that just get into the pit to bring actual harm to others, drunks that have no basic politeness knocking into you without a simple excuse me, or guys groping women (let’s face it this happens a lot more than it does the other way) that want nothing to do with you. As a former drunk myself, I know what alcohol does to a person, and despite the fact I would drink in large quantities I still had enough wherewithal to not be a complete creep to others. With the exception of one person that I saw last night, the brotherhood was back.

As most of you know I had knee surgery last month. Despite the fact that I have been hobbling around somewhat without the crutches for about a week now, I decided it was in my best interest to use them last night at the show, if for no other reason some extra support, and something to literally lean on if I got too tired and there was nowhere to sit. Plus I’m still unable to fully bend my leg and walking about stiff legged, so it just made sense. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show. I freely admit I was a bit nervous about going. I was afraid I would have a tough time getting through the crowd, perhaps get knocked down, whether inadvertent or not, possibly re-injuring myself. Pretty much from the moment I got there I was treated with respect, given leeway to pass when I needed to, and was fairly well guarded from the pit area during the time I stood up for Down. I pounded knuckles with perfect strangers and given thumbs-up and devil horns giving me prop’s for coming out to the show despite being on crutches. I even had a guy do all-the-above plus give me his card telling me that if I wanted a tattoo to contact him. His name is Michael Hunter, out of South Carolina, Tattoos By Hunter. I looked at some of his work, and it looks great. Still not sure if I’m ready for another tat yet though.

So my lady love and I arrived at Tremont Music Hall about 20 minutes prior to show time. A line had already started, getting rather long. We finally got to the door, bought our tickets, and who was ready to search and scan us was none other than Jeff Clayton, legendary singer for the band Antiseen. I thought it was him, but I wasn’t entirely certain, and I didn’t want to impose at any rate. Phil of Down did a shout out to him which I thought was pretty awesome for our hometown guy. For a change Tremont was using the big stage for the show. It had been a while since I had seen a band in that part of the club. We made our way to a spot where we could sit (my plan was to sit through the first two bands as I wasn’t familiar with them and expend my energy for Down.)

The first band up (and they were already on stage by the time we sat down) was a band called Mount Carmel. Holy shit were they phenomenal! They were a power trio playing music along the same vein as Cream, Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath all rolled into one. Totally a classic sound, but their presentation sonically was fabulous. Singer/guitarist Matthew Reed was the centerpiece of the band though they were such a cohesive unit. His voice is so full of soul and passion. It literally made my nipples tingle and sent chills down my spine, something that hasn’t happened for my in regards to music since Ray Gillen of Badlands when I first heard their debut s/t album. Top that with his equally soulful and passionate guitar playing and I was hooked. The guys are just laid back, humble, and so non-rock star, yet have the abilities that should scale them to the very top, if the general music consumer would pull their heads out of their ass’ and start listening to music that is good. Though I was sitting, I was rocking out as hard as I could. Had I not been out of sorts I would’ve likely been shaking my ass to them. I enjoyed them so much that as soon as their set ended AJ and I went to their table immediately to meet them. I got both of their CD’s and would’ve gotten a shirt but lack of funds and lack of XXL’s prevented that. We only got to meet Matthew and his brother Patrick, but they were both super cool guys and I wish only big things for them.

Next up was Warbeast, and just like Mount Carmel, I was totally unfamiliar with them. They were pretty damn good as well- pretty much a straight forward old school thrash band in the same vein as Exodus and Destruction. I really enjoyed their set, but being sandwiched between Down and Mount Carmel just didn’t do them any favors. Stylistically there was a major clash going on. The crowd still enjoyed them though, which is all that counts. I would likely see them again on a bill with other bands more comparable to their sound and style. What pleased me greatly about this show compared to the Down show we saw a couple months ago is the fact that Haarp wasn’t there. Blake had previously thought they were going to be on the bill as well, but thankfully they were not.

Of course the band we were there to see was Down. This was my third time seeing them, and they just get better and better each time. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, pound for pound Down is the best band any of these guys have ever been affiliated with, including Pantera. I’m not a big fan of Eyehategod (Jimmy Bowers band,) but COC and Crowbar are great bands, as well as the aforementioned Pantera, but there is something about Down’s music that appeals to my soul. It’s heavy, but not in the same way as Cannibal Corpse, it’s catchy but not the same way KISS is, and it has a groove but not the same as Black Sabbath. I simply love everything they have done. From their seminal release NOLA to their brand new The Purple EP, their music defies categorization. There is no one playing this type of music. With blistering guitar work from Kirk and Pepper, thundering drums from Jimmy, and driving bass of Pat led by the certifiably insane Phil, one of the best frontmen out there, you will simply find no band more dedicated to their craft. They even got my crippled ass banging my head and tossing up my crutches in salute. I will see them as often as I can and encourage you to do so as well.

Despite the fact we left right before they did their encores, the show was just incredible. AJ has a lot of back issues and we almost weren’t able to go because of it, but she toughed it out to make sure I was able to get there (I’m still not able to drive safely yet) and her back was really killing her by the end of the night, and I was pretty wore out as well so we left. Ironically enough this show was the last night of this leg of the tour just like the last time we saw them. As much as I would’ve liked to have stayed the whole show, I was glad to get out early as well. I’d say catch this tour, but they’re headed to Europe in two weeks, so unless you’re across the pond, your options are limited. Oh and if Phil asks you what the first song they wrote is yell out “Temptations Wings;” seems to be a running thing. Sadly, only a handful of people knew it, including a guy named Jason that got to intro the song, after Phil called him Vorhee’s of course. Well, it was a long month without any shows, but I’m glad to be back in the mix again. Until next time my peep’s: My brain distorts the pleasure, no facts behind my eyes. This pain I’ve come to treasure, being down has become my life.

By Chris Martin


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Each week David Randall presents ‘New to GRTR!’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, with the emphasis on independent artists and labels. During December he replays favourite tracks including power plays featured during the year. This show covers the period January-March and was first broadcast on 1 December 2019.

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