We go to a lot of gigs here at DC9. We don't write about most of them. We do it because we've got an awful lot of local music, across three major cities, to keep tabs on. Now and again, on a trip to catch something we're keen on seeing, we get a fleeting glimpse of something incredible that's worth blogging about (aside from Kiernan's adorable/disturbing obsession with bathroom walls, DC9-on-Facebook-followers), and this was one of those things.
We were at The Grotto to have a quick look at how Pinkish Black were coming along since signing a record deal and being named Pitchfork's #6 metal album of 2012. There were going to be a couple of bands on before them, and we noticed that the first of these, Solomon, had what must rank as one of the most ridiculous stage rigs I've ever seen. The bassist had four large-enough-to-need-wheels bass amps all stacked on each other, as did the guitarist on the other side, and in the middle was a drumkit big enough to require a metal bar to hold the rig together, you know the sort. This is the opening band. When eventually they do stride on stage, with no announcement, they're all relative veterans, long hair, beards, black clothes. They then proceed to play what must be the slowest, sludgiest, loudest, most insane metal gig I have probably ever heard.
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It made the Melvins look like the Spice Girls. It made Neurosis look like Sum 41. It made any supposedly bad-ass metal group look like the Polyphonic Spree. It wasn't sludge metal so much as coastal erosion metal. It was like someone had distilled the essence of "fuck you" into a tiny room in Fort Worth. It was epic, much as I hate that word, on the scale of watching a new solar system being born. You could feel each note change, let alone key change, building up and blasting yet another hole, first in your chest, and then in the back of this tiny venue. And that was the first thirty seconds. Because, after thirty seconds, they blew the entire stage sound system. A few minutes of fumbling around, another minute of insane all-encompassing distortion, and they blow the thing out again.
Of course, there's no announcement during this. If you understand what sort of metal band this is, you'll understand they're not going to talk to the audience, all of whom were fucking terrified by this point. When they eventually get underway on a near 40-minute set, the pace doesn't even pick up. We're talking about 15 to 20 beats per minute here, folks. You know how when we talk about a metal performance as "pulverizing" or "brutal", we normally think of a band playing really fast and enthusiastically. This is the opposite of that, but somehow the same adjectives still apply. When something approaching a rhythm finally, finally kicks in, it's magnificent. The whole room shakes, drinks threaten to plunge off tables, there were probably herds of elephants in Africa who are well aware Solomon played in Fort Worth. The bassist starts playing the bass with a violin bow because a normal strummed note (he's pretty much been hitting notes out until this point) just doesn't have the sustain to keep up the agonizingly slow death march. I spent a couple of minutes within five feet of the stage and my entire body started vibrating uncontrollably. It is, hands down, one of the greatest, most interesting, most brutal, most terrifying, metal gigs I've ever seen, and it was one hundred percent unexpected. We left after that. If I was the next band on I would have thrown my hands up and gone "you know what? Screw it. Let's give up."
Solomon, ladies and gents. It was, apparently, their first gig in ten years, which only makes the whole thing more ridiculous. They're playing another one on March 1st at Lola's in Fort Worth. I will see you there. Bring ear protection, for god's sakes.