This is a show I wasn’t going to attend and a review that wasn’t going to be written. And to be honest, this is more a personal account of the night than it is a review, so don’t say you weren’t warned or correct me on all the details I might get wrong.
When doing my weekly browse of what bands are going to be coming through this mile high city, I noticed a national act on the 3 Kings roster. It’s not often that a national tour will be booked at 3 Kings, so it peaked my interest. Zoroaster was the name I recognized first, because their latest album, Matador, as well as their show at the Viper Room, showed up on Genji‘s 2010 year-end lists. I was not a huge fan of the album, so the 3 Kings appearance failed to make my recommended March shows. Turns out that was a mistake on my part.
On Wednesday night I was going to attend the Deicide/Belphegor show. Aside from the awful album art and overall ‘ridiculously satanic‘ theme, I thought the God Is Dead Tour would be a pretty kick-ass metal show. But my partner in crime for these types of shows happened to be in Boston, I was in an unusually lazy mood and I didn’t know if I wanted to fork out $30 for a show at the Bluebird when I would probably only know half the material being played. So I opted out.
Like often happens when I miss a show I was looking forward to, I have regrets the next day. So, on Thursday I was jonesing for some live metal. As I browsed through my options on gigbot, I came across this Weedeater show again. It also happens that Haunting The Chapel had just posted a new song and it sounded pretty fuckin’ good. Hmmm, 3 Kings, Friday night, $12 cover, no plans…sure. Southern sludge was the reason I got back into metal in the first place, bands like Mastodon, Kylesa and Baroness brought me back over to the dark side and evidently this Weedeater band (despite the stupid name) are pioneers in this genre. In fact (old news to anyone in the know), the lead singer is “Dixie” Dave Collins of Buzzov•en. So I downloaded God Luck and Good Speed and was blown away from the first distorted riff on the title track to last key of piano on Willow. 38 minutes of punishing stoner metal with vocals from a man who drinks gasoline while smoking filterless cigarettes…this is some down and dirty sludge metal and I love it! And this is coming from someone who doesn’t even smoke weed! God Luck, like Dopethrone, is one of the few stoner albums that hooked me on the first listen.
The music started at 10pm with hometown deathcore band Catheter. The first song was dedicated to an aunt who just passed away and a brother who may or may not have been in audience…then the trio commenced to grinding. I was into them until the vocals. The death growls were fine, if not a little generic, but the the actual singing was almost Dan Filth style and I couldn’t do it. It didn’t help that the band was so jaded either. ‘We don’t usually play venues like this because we get fucked over, we’ll get fucked over tonight too’ and to the next band up ‘LBRO, you got your asses served!’. All interaction with the crowd came from the drummer, who seemed to be the leader of the band. And maybe it was just a bad night for them, or maybe they are a hard working band that always gets ‘fucked over’, but whatever the case, this banter did take something away from their set. It was nice see the disenchanted drummer banging his head with the rest of the audience during Weedeater‘s set though…even jumping onstage at one point.
Not long after Catheter‘s set I had to bail for a minute. Trying to give up smoking when hanging out at 3 Kings is like trying to kick a coke habit while vacationing in Bolivia. So after my first beer, when I realized I was hungry, I went to grab some food instead of a smoke. I got back just after the second hometown act, Lyin’ Bitch and The Restraining Orders, had finished their set.
Zoroaster, along with the aforementioned Mastodon, Kylesa and Baroness, are based in Georgia. Atlanta to be exact. And while they haven’t seen the success those three bands have, they proved last night that they deserve it and it’s probably not far off. I mentioned before that I couldn’t get into Matador, but now I understand that you have to see these guys live to appreciate them. First off, they look like regulars at 3 Kings. Covered in tattoos, beards, piercings… You’ve got the stoic Will Fiore (looking like an electric wizard) on guitar and vocals, you’ve got Rod Fiore looking like he could be in hardcore band while he punishes the drums, and then you’ve got Brent Anderson on bass. Brent, the man who looks like he’s in a wrestling match with his bass. Brent, looking like the loser in that match. Brent the entertainer! ‘Whooooo!‘
At first I didn’t know if I was going to get into this stuff. Like the album, it was a little too psychedelic for me. Weedeater might have the name, but Zoroaster are definitely a stoner band. Once I realized that, I cleared my head, stopped trying to analyze why the vocals were so buried and let the music take me to another place. Dead sober (except for a couple beers), I let myself get stoned on the sound. And that I did…only to be brought out by one of Brent‘s ‘whoooo!‘s’ or when I thought he was literally going to launched his instrument into the crowd. Genji explained this music as ‘psychedelic doom‘ and now that makes sense. I think I was always comparing them to the sludge masters they share a state with, but this is something different…something more visceral. Once I achieved understanding, I achieved appreciation.
Dave ‘Dixie’ Collins is a nutcase on and off stage. This is a man who blew his toe off with his ‘favorite shotgun‘ and speaks and sings like he’s swallowed razorblades and whiskey and cauterized the wounds with blazing resin. He looks like a character out of Deadwood or Justified. But he’s for real. This is not some fictional character. This is a man who introduces his band as ‘we’re Weedeater from North Carolina and we fucking suck!’ as he goes cross-eyed screaming into the microphone. It was 12:40am and half the crowd couldn’t keep their eyes open; some had smoked so much they were literally passed out on the couches. But I knew from the beginning intro of Jason..the Dragon, this was going to be a show worth the wait.
The majority of the set consisted of material from the new album, which will be out March 15th on Southern Lord and was for sale at their merch booth. Although you wouldn’t have been able to tell that the rowdy, smelly, drunk crowd in front of the stage didn’t know these songs. It was chaos up there…fans being shoved onto the low stage while Dixie Dave beat on his bass like it was the cause of all his problems all while chugging from the bottle of Jim Beam like it had all the answers. I do realize Weedeater has a guitarist and a drummer and they both performed their duties exceptionally well, but a glance in their direction would risk missing one of Dixie‘s insane face contortions.
The music was metal, but the scene was something straight out of a Drive-By Truckers or Lucero show, even going as far as covering Skynyrd‘s Gimme Back My Bullets. That cover, along with that title track and Weed Monkey from God Luck and Good Speed closed out the night on a high note. Even the sound problems that are ‘killing [Dixie’s] fucking buzz‘ couldn’t take away from the strength of their set. The show was over at 1:30am and I walked to my car feeling like I’d taken a beating. Taken a beating and found something new in the process. I even bought the new CD on the way out (they didn’t have vinyl), something I haven’t done in a very long time!