For me, 2013 was the year of the festival: I attended three of them last year, of the one-to-three-day variety. Twas also a year that I crossed two big-name bands off my bucket list…and, on a more depressing note, the year of the cancelled concert. In light of the U.S. government shutdown, many bands from across the pond had to alter their tour plans, which meant me missing Hawkwind, Church of Misery and Monster Magnet in the fall/winter. Well OK, the latter had nothing to do with Ted Cruz–they cancelled their dates on the East Coast due to illness. I presume that Dave Wyndorf ate the brown acid…
That being said, here are the Top 10 concerts I attended in 2013:
10. Kylesa, Blood Ceremony, White Hills @ Lee’s Palace,
Despite a strict(!?) no-photography policy, this was a pretty sweet gig with three heavy psych/doom/sludge bands in which female musicians feature prominently. Leading up to the show, I highlighted 10 women of sludge metal, which lead to a temporary spike in traffic for yours truly. Here’s hoping for that Electric Wizard/Boris/Jucifer tour next year.
9. Fu Manchu @ Lee’s Palace, April 15
(Click here for more pics!)
Twas the second time up here in a couple years for the Fu, who dusted off their vintage The Action is Go album after giving In Search Of… the same treatment in 2011. Only this go-round, they benefited from a superior sound system and a better mix at Lee’s Palace than the previous venue. I also appreciated their call for requests at the encore, even though my cries for “Weird Beard” went unheeded.
CHOICE WORDS: Crazy to think that most of these guys who played on said album 16 years ago are still here, with the notable exception of Brant Bjork, who’s been replaced by Scott Reeder. No, not that Scott Reeder… — AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: Fu Manchu @ Lee’s Palace, April 15, 2013
8. Blood Ceremony, Biblical, Cauchemar @ Horseshoe
Tavern, September 14
(More pics here.)
Though it was a few months overdue owning to their Kylesa/White Hills tour, the Blood Ceremony CD release party was no less of a memorable occasion. Playing to a packed house at a large Queen St. venue, BC made the new album come alive with additional props, lighting and musicians for the occasion. Every Blood Ceremony release party has cracked my top 10 list in its respective year, and this one was certainly no exception. Check out my top 10 Blood Ceremony tunes!
CHOICE WORDS: Blood Ceremony brought out all the stops for this one: the stage fog, the cardboard cutouts… they even had a violinist! Their set was understandably focused on the new album, but they still played “Return to Forever,” so I’m happy. — AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: BLOOD CEREMONY, Biblical, Cauchemar @ Horseshoe Tavern, Sept 14, 2013
7. Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 @ The Acheron, New York
City, July 27
(Click for pics!)
July brought me to Brooklyn on a hot summer’s eve for a nine-pack of bands and about as many Miller High Life’s. As far as straight-up stoner-rock goes, it doesn’t get much better than this lineup, which featured a fistful of Small Stone artists including Gozu and the mighty Lo-Pan. But I was perhaps the most stoked to see a D.C. outfit called Borracho, who, I hafta say, sorta stole my bandname–not that I ever did anything with it.
CHOICE WORDS: True story: I once thought Borracho would make a good name for a stoner-rock band seven years ago, being that it’s Spanish for drunk. But my short-lived outfit never even got off the ground, so when I found out there was a band from D.C. a couple years later who took that name for themselves, I raised a glass in their general direction. On this evening, I was able to toast ‘em in person–albeit with a can of Miller High Life. — AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 @ The Acheron, Brooklyn, July 27, 2013
6. Clutch, Orange Goblin, Scorpion Child @ Sound
Academy, April 18
Clutch is always awesome, although the last three times I’ve caught ‘em, they weren’t even my biggest draw on the bill–whether they were touring with Wino, Motorhead, or, in this case, Orange Goblin. The British southern doomsters brought plenty of enthusiasm across the pond along with those Hawkwind t-shirts not available in North America…yet. Pity I missed ‘em on their October headlining jaunt–but sheeeet son, I was in Texas!
CHOICE WORDS: These guys played as much of a career-spanning set as you can cram into 45 minutes, all while encouraging the crowd to get as crazy as possible. Not only is he one of the tallest frontmen I’ve ever seen, but Ben Ward certainly has the energy to match… — AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: CLUTCH/Orange Goblin @ Sound Academy, April 18, 2013
(For those uninitiated in the Orange Goblin, I ran through their back catalogue back in March.)
5. Scorpion Child, Kadavar, Gypsyhawk, Mothership @
Hard Luck Bar, October 3
(If you want pics–you got ‘em!)
Though they were hardly any household names on this bill–the headliners were fresh off a stint as the opening band on the Clutch/Orange Goblin tour–they sure brought the heavy rock from start to finish. (Well, there was one band that I’d rather not mention, but I digress.) Twas hard to get more headbang for your buck than at the Hard Luck Bar, and while Scorpion Child was pretty sweet and all, they sorta had the show stolen by both Mothership and Kadavar.
CHOICE WORDS: The Texas trio put out a killer debut early this year on Ripple Music, and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t crack my year-end top 10. Yes, it’s that good! It goes without saying that those who arrived early were blown away by their exuberance, their raw power — and their punctuality. — AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: Scorpion Child, Kadavar, Gypsyhawk, Mothership @ Hard Luck Bar, October 3, 2013
Sure enough, Mothership’s self-titled debut did crack my top 10 albums of 2013.
4. Housecore Horror Film Fest @ Emo’s/Antone’s,
Austin, TX, October 25-27
There are at least a couple things you don’t mess with, including Texas and Phil Anselmo. And when the two come together for three days of horror movies, heavy metal and high cholesterol (man, you shouldda seen that chicken ‘n waffles!), I kinda knew I had to be there. So many highlights from that extended weekend, including Eyehategod, Jim Van Bebber, GWAR, the Melvins and Cannibal Holocaust–not to mention the closing screening of Suspiria with its live soundtrack (pictured above). In fact, I simply couldn’t contain them all to one post, so check out my festival recap, in three parts:
CHOICE WORDS: Man, what an emotional performance from Eyehategod. Mike IX very nearly teared up as fans chanted “Joey, Joey” between tunes–although their special guest drummer acquitted himself admirably on numbers such as “Sister Fucker,” “Blank” and a tune Mike rechristened “White Neighbor.” — HOUSECORE HORRORFEST RECAP: Day Three
3. Days of the Doomed III @ The Blue Pig, Cudahy, WI,
(Vic says click for pics!)
If all you know about doom metal is Black Sabbath and Pentagram, then this probably isn’t the fest for you–although the latter’s most well-known axeman did make an appearance last year. But when it comes to the U.S. doom underground, the place to be is Cudahy (pronounced Koo-da-hey) for this annual two-day event. For the record, it’s just a couple miles from the Milwaukee airport, and they even had a van to pick you up and take you to the venue–which was much appreciated after 14 hours of doom left me pretty wiped out. Well that, and the Miller High Lifes. (I don’t normally drink that beer, but when in Rome…)
Alas, they’ve already announced this year’s fourth edition, with tickets going on sale today. Let’s just say there’s a pretty good chance I’ll be back next summer. In the meantime, check out my pics from last year’s fest:
CHOICE WORDS: Day Two of the Doomed saw no fewer than 12 bands take the stage–and I can actually say I witnessed all of them. Twas a long, slow, downtuned, distorted day, definitely. And while my feet are still feeling the effects of 13.5 hours of heaviness (although to be fair, I just got off the treadmill), I absolutely loved every minute of it. — AMATEUR CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: DAYS OF THE DOOMED Day Two @ Blue Pig, Cudahy, WI, June 22, 2013
2. Neurosis @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple, New York
City, January 19
(Gimme a P…I…C…S!)
This midwinter’s trip was not only my first time seeing Neurosis in concert, but my first time in The Big Apple, period. I even stuck around an extra day to see Spider-Man on Broadway and the Rangers’ home opener, so it was quite the memorable excursion. But man, seeing Neurosis in concert was a religious experience–and not just because they played a Masonic temple. While it’s pretty sweet that they’re playing Montreal twice that same weekend in 2014, I almost don’t want to go this time…cuz surely, the Seahawks will be in the NFC final this year, if not the Super Bowl, which just so happens to be in New York City.
That said, if you are heading off to MTL in a couple weeks, here is some reading material to get you in the mood.
CHOICE WORDS: Picture The Opera House in Toronto, Le National in Montreal or Portland’s Roseland Theater, dropped smack-dab on, let’s say Albany Ave in the Annex, and run by an organization of religious weirdos with great big beards (a couple of whom were milling about before the music started). Yeah, that’s a lot to wrap yer head around, isn’t it? — AMATEUR (flashless) CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY HOUR: NEUROSIS @ Brooklyn Masonic Temple, January 19, 2013
1. Black Sabbath @ Air Canada Centre, August 14
(Pic taken by someone with a better camera than me.)
As y’all might be aware, I lived in Calgary at a time when it wasn’t a very happening place. I can tell you that Black Sabbath never came to Cowtown on their ’99 reunion tour, nor did Ozzfest ever grace an Albertan stage. Hell, from what I gather, Calgary wasn’t even part of the band’s touring circuit in the 70′s–for all I know, they’ve never been there. Which is to say I had never seen Sabbath in concert until August 14, 2013. Sure, they’re well past their collective prime, Ozzy can’t really sing, and they’ve got some Bill Ward lookalike on drums…but I’ll be damned if seeing ‘em in concert for the first time wasn’t a religious experience–even at an overpriced hockey rink!
As a matter of fact, I’ve already got my ticket in hand to see ‘em again in Hamilton this April. I’m even a couple rows closer this time, so maybe I’ll actually bring my camera.
CHOICE WORDS: Let’s just say that by starting their set with “War Pigs,” they had me at hello. “Into the Void,” “Under the Sun” and “Snowblind” followed, and the band was definitely on form. They even managed to make Not-Bill-Ward look like a young Bill Ward by borrowing one of his old headbands! — Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, they’ve still got it!