Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Three Nights of Rain & Grind In Vancouver

Well technically two-ish of grind, powerviolence and rain followed by one of vagrants, cold wind and punk. It's a very uncreative title.

I recently got back from Vancouver and a few nights of local live shows: Baptists’ Album Release show at the Biltmore Cabaret, followed by Iron Lung/Column of Heaven/Osk/Koszmar/Cooked And Eaten in the back of Zoo Shop records, and then a kick of show in a photo gallery in a bad part of town for White Lung’s tour. This will be a quick one followed by a few posts with actual substance and content so don’t fret as I have plans.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in Vancouver longer than a transfer between flights so I did take a chance to try the New Amsterdam Cafe finally and I also was re-acclimated to the notorious presence of the underclass on west Hastings. Both of these things were interesting as was checking out venues I had not been to. All of this was amidst the pineapple express (awful term, sorry) we were going through on the coast so constant mild rain made everything a little more uncomfortably damp than you'd like.


The Biltmore Cabaret for instance, a bar/club venue underneath and in the rear of a redone hotel Mount Pleasant. The stage and space inside is great though, lots of room, low and open with a good amount of seating. The neighborhood isn’t bad either unlike a lot of others and there was some cruelty free baked goods for sale as well inside. I’ll be posting a separate review for the new Baptist record which if you haven't already heard it yet is very good, and their throw down show where they played the entire record and one encore track did a great job of showcasing “Bushcraft”, their maturing sound and dynamic energy.

And apparently the dudes in Baptists (specifically the drummer Nick) have their hands in a few projects in this article, namely the opener Erosion which was the surprise of the night for me. Four guys with the two members of Baptists (Nick on guitar, Danny on drums I think), the bassist I think is in Cooked And Eaten, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the vocalist wase in other projects. Erosion is far more abrasive and at points sludgy than Baptists while keeping to the fundamentals of crusty hardcore, and live their play their blistering hymns very very loud in a short span of time; the violent riffs, the inhuman shouts over unending blasts all captivating. Both Nick and the member of Cooked And Eaten seem to bee very proficient on either instrument. I picked up their tape and I’ll get something up on that soon as it’s a shredder.

Haggatha I’ve known about for not too long, sludgy doom that keeps it simple and smoldering, flaring up at just the right moments. Live they executed material from their 2012 and 2010 records very well, the set list was well chosen and I still am not entirely familiar with their older stuff. But their performance left a bigger impression on me than the brief listens I’ve had in the past; maybe it was the mix of material. More on these lumbering locals in some other future post.

So as I said Baptists took us to the early hours by showing off their brand new record “Bushcraft” one song at a time, closing with one from their now sold out self-titled 7” (someone got a copy of it that night by being the first to stage dive during their set). I had only just heard the new material maybe twice before this show but it was already really growing on my by the second spin, and if there was any doubt they can pull it off with power and energy live (much like their biggest influence, Converge, do on stage) I can definitely say they do a great job, and I recommend you see them once they hit the road.

Baptists can get a crowd going. It was damn hectic by the end of the night, tons of stage diving and pits and moshing. I had a great spot up front for the whole set except the encore which was when I went for my coat. "Russian Spirits" and "Bullets" were the highlights as those two are really well crafted for a live setting, packing a hammering finale that leaves you wanting more. The slower grooves of Still Melt and Soiled Roots came across awesome and Nick's drumming live stands out even more on stage too.

Aside from the boring shots and video I took myself, I ran into someone from Cvlt Nation covering the night as well and he wrote a nice piece with better photos recently on this great show.


Now this one was the following night, a little earlier and in a little more seedy part of town, just north of Hastings tucked inside Zoo Shop records; a dusty (new) space with a small but good selection in the short amount of time I browsed. And as soon as I walked in I heard "Insect Warfare - World Extermination" playing all the way through which is usually a pretty good indicator of the beginning of a good night. There were a few local and international rarities on the wall. It was an angular spot to work a line into, and the back was big enough maybe for 50 people to fit comfortably, let alone moshing, drinking and going to and fro. By the time Iron Lung played their had well more than double that and the thing had supposedly sold out.

This was a show where those people who shun openers (especially local openers) were missing out on some ruthless grindcore. Another project involving Nick from Baptists (returning to his original role) known as Cooked And Eaten opened the night. No physical or official releases behind them but man do I hope that changes. Much like Osk these guys display an affinity for Insect Warfare grind with a pinch of sludge, and it works much to my liking of course. Check out some of their set above. I started recording after two particular doozies.

They also have a bandcamp with a few single tracks, some of which I recognize on the song list on stage. I'll put up any official release that comes my way in the future.

The second opener was another local grind/powerviolence group Koszmar, again laying down some fine and dirty destruction, busting open the fresh drywall on the lead guitarist’s side. Both of these bands only played for about 10 minutes each and it was reckless with such an amped crowd with such a small space. It felt quite good actually.

The middle act as you might call it was the one I had been anticipating most, the Vancouver locals Osk who I had mentioned in a previous local round up and before leaving for Vancouver I had just received copies of their splits. They played again only for about 12 minutes but the selection of songs suggests to me these guys don’t have many weakness in their discography, much like the few tracks I had gathered up to then hinted as well. All three grinders blasted on max with both their instruments and their throats, with members of other local bands like Ahna (pretty sure I saw Anju talking with the Osk/Column of heaven dudes), Bridgeburner, and Six Brew Bantha in the crowd by now as things grew more involuntarily intimate/cramped. I recognized a few tracks and the mix of searing shred and hypnotic slams was satisfying to say the least. I really want a full record at some point from these guys.

You can watch a portion of their set above, and I’ll have a few reviews of their records up later because grind fans should be more exposed to Osk if you ask me.

(Column of Heaven)
Finally the headliners. I’ve seen both Column of Heaven and Iron Lung before just this past fall actually on a show Magrudergrind had to drop. It doesn’t matter though because even if a wicked band like that drops you have to see the force these two bands carry on stage, it’s certainly worth multiple attendances. Column of Heaven got a lot of attention last year and with members involved in pioneering act The Endless Blockade there’s some immediately perceived credibility. I still have yet to give their records a full spin yet (catchin up on that) but their shows put the material across well enough, angular and aggressive. Like last time they put on a great show playing a good mix of old and new shit in very good spirits, the vocalist was very involved with the crowd and opened their set with a series of ridiculous and very long, crackly shrieks — again in a very ‘fuck around for fun’ mood which was great.

In between the end of Column of Heaven's set and Iron Lung setting up I went outside and then browsed a bit, and it had gotten pretty packed. So I was at the back and coudn’t see shit for most of their short set. They played some new ones though right off the bat (I picked up that new record and you can too over here) and proceeded to turn that tiny box and back hallway into a churning mass of bodies; crowd surfing and all. They didn't play "Cancer" which they closed with last time I think but their catalog is full of excellent bursts of violence so it's never a let down really.

I stayed until the last song and possible encore and then I went outside near the end of their set to get some air, and ended up sitting with a few others including Shawn of Osk — who I later talked to briefly while picking up one of their split with Scumbelly. After Iron Lung finished I unexpectedly spent a little time talking with Mark of Six Brew Bantha too about local music stuff and upcoming shows. Both real nice guys by the way and a great way to end that night.


(Anne -Marie and Mish of White Lung, concerned about the tom being used as a kick drum)
The Interurban is in a part of Vancouver that can get pretty sketchy the later it is and the further west you go. It’s not like Harlem, or Compton, or some Baltimore or Chicago neighborhood but Hastings is notorious for its poverty and drugs in Canada. I never spent much time down there but because I wanted to see White Lung and I didn’t want to miss out on the small amount of door tickets (like the last time I went to see Converge in Toronto and missed out) I got there like a half hour before doors opened, and it was interesting to say the least.

Inside however it was a fairly tame photo/art gallery with a added stage, a lot of big windows and high ceilings. Punks mixed with quite a few different scenes in the crowd which grew a lot more by the time the headliners went on. Honestly, Peace and The High Drops were a little too mellow for my liking especially anticipating the energy of White Lung. They weren’t bad — both composed of skilled musicians — the style and pacing just wasn’t for me. Judge for yourself.

Nu Sensae was much more enjoyable, a three piece punk/noise-rock group with very abrasive female vocals and a wildly energetic drummer. White Lung were what I was waiting for of course and the chick dominated group put on an excellent show, sounding as good if not better than on record as they began by playing a few from “Sorry”. However apparently Anne-Marie was really punishing the kick drum because the skin was destroyed midway through “Bunny”, leading to an almost definite end to the show since it was the only drum set in the venue. Like soldiers though Anne-Marie buckled down and powered through the whole rest of the set using a tom as the kick drum with Grady using her foot to keep the cinderblock in place. Video will be posted here later including the track "Glue" compete with blown out audio from bass.

Anne Marie was definitely a trooper in a not so ideal situation, playing well regardless. Mish’s vocals, smothered in reverb, come through nicely live, and outside of the skin breaking there were no fuck ups; all four members calm and played solid. Ken's guitar work was as twinkly as you'd expect with a nice set up. And of course Mish, Anne, and Grady are pretty damn cute; Grady has a little Vanessa Ferlito in Death Proof about her I think. Anyway it sounded awesome in spite of the tom-kicker and had a nice atmosphere. The crowd was so hyped for this tour send off that apparently they were a little disrespectful of the gallery space. Hardcore and punk shows are messy of course.

The walk back to my room went smoothly by the way.

Alright so that's one more somewhat informative show review done. I was going to write something on Messe des Morts II but I put it off to long I think. As I said at the start something more fruitful will come of this considering all the bands I mentioned — plus more from my year end list and other shit I didn’t hear until now!

The next show I might write about is the Enternal Warfare Festival or if I decide to go Stella Natura 2013. Until then I don’t think single shows will warrant a write up unless Amenra decides to tour with Thou and Daughters and happens to pas through Vancouver, so it’s all records for a while.

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