As you have heard me bemoan before, being in law school and working fulltime is a suckfest. One of the side effects of this lifestyle is that I hadn’t been to a concert in almost a year. Luckily I broke the cycle of abstaining from live performance and went to see blackened thrashers Occultist and the hardcoretastic Iron Reagan.
Luckily, I remembered my earplugs this time, because it got quite loud.
Two local bands opened. The first was Lifer, a suicidal power violence group, if you want to get super technical with the genre labeling. They were pretty good: loud, had fast bits, and a pretty damn good vocalist. Dude could seriously belt.
One thing I noticed about them, though, is that they tended to have their backs turned to the audience while playing, so I got to see more of their boxers peaking out from their musty khakis than I did of them actually playing their instruments or making faces or whatever. They seem young, though, so there’s room to grow and develop stage presence.
Next up was Snakedriver, my favorite local band. I’m going to save reviewing them for my next Under the Radar entry, as I’ve been meaning to feature them for a while. You should go check them out ahead of time because they are barbaric.
After Snakedriver finished busting guts, I grabbed a beer with Mark Bronzino, one of the guitarists in Iron Reagan. He’s a chill ass dude. He told me about how living on the road has become essentially second nature to him, especially since he’s in so many groups, including Mammoth Grinder and ANS. He mentioned that he’s achieved an admirable level of driving while watching Wrestlemania.
I also jokingly asked him if he could be my in to meet one of my heroes, Scott Hull. After all, Hull did master Iron Reagan’s latest release, Spoiled Identity, they’re on the same label, and ANS did a split with Agoraphobic Nosebleed in 2010. Alas, apparently Scott Hull keeps to himself even more than I imagined: Mark has never even met the dude, a curiosity at which we scratched our noggins for a moment or two.
It was about that time our glasses were emptied down our gullets and Occultist went on. Bronzino had to excuse himself to go warm up the ole fret-a-lators, so I went back to the edge of the stage.
I had never listened to Occultist before last night, but I will definitely be ordering a cd of theirs soon. For some reason they only had vinyl at the show, which would have been sick to buy because the album art is chilling. My girlfriend would never let me hang it on the wall, though, so it was sad day for cohabitation.
Occultist were anything but sad, though. They focused all their brooding energies into a tremendous display of ferocity and really brought the grim to Little Rock. Their guitarists were perfectly synchronized in their furious riffing and the drums evoked a signature tribal frenzy.
The bassist expertly performed double duty on deep gutteral vocals in addition to bridging the gap between the pummeling drums and the guitar riffage. The lead vocalist, who strangely donned a studded leather fanny pack, made it seem as if a banshee had entered the room and was shrieking for the Gates of Hell to open right beneath us. It was a pretty excellent performance.
Finally, it was time for Iron Reagan. I just have to say, these guys are the biggest goofballs I’ve ever seen on a stage. Their music is bad ass and you should definitely appreciate that aspect of the band, but the added element of unrelenting sophomoric prankery is also a huge reason to go see them live.
The first thing vocalist Tony Foresta did when he jumped on stage was grab a dude’s pitcher of beer and somersault kick it into the crowd. He then grabbed his mic, sang one of Iron Reagan’s punchy, seconds-long songs, brandished his fastfood travel cup, and growled into the mic “FUCK YOUR SOUP NAZI BEER LINE–I SNUCK IN WHISKEY!”
Turns out the band had been having issues with the venue all day.
Of all the bands that played, I’d have to say that they were the tightest. A lot of times when a band plays at breakneck speeds, neatness is sacrificed. I wouldn’t say that Iron Reagan is a pretty or clean band by any means, but sloppy they ain’t and unilaterally cohesive they is.
I’ll reiterate it: there’s gotta be something in the water over there in the DC/Richmond area. So many rad bands come out of there and the Occultist and Iron Reagan are prime examples. If this tour is coming through your town or one near you, catch it. You’ll have a sore neck the next day.
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