Archive for the Gigs Category

A Blaze in the Northwestern Sky: Chelsea Wolfe and King Dude

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , , on January 17, 2013 by Magadh

Case Studies/King Dude/Chelsea Wolfe
The Triple Door, Seattle WA

Since the arrival of our son, The Wolf, we have been left with diminished opportunities to attend musical rituals. Thankfully, the stars aligned allowing Mrs. Games and me a night out to see this exceptional line up in a rather tony venue.

The Triple Door is a full seated venue in the heart of Seattle. Booths and table are arranged in a tiered horseshoe with the red trimmed stage as the centerpiece. Black clad wait staff offer dinner and drinks service throughout the performance. The venue reads equal parts David Lynch and a late Wiemar Republic cafe, perfect for King Dude and Chelsea Wolfe.

The evening began with Case Studies, the moniker of Jesse Lortz’s (the duke of The Duchess and the Duke fame) solo project. Lortz has been acclaimed for both his painting as well as his musicianship and I was interested to hear him play. I wasn’t really blown away by his performance which may owe to my lack of familiarity with his recent work. The lyrical content and some of the musicianship attempts to evoke Leonard Cohen. My impression, at least on this night, was that it owed a bit more to some of John Lennon’s middling solo work. Lortz performance was certainly heartfelt and his offerings were well received by sections of the audience. For my part, I remained more engaged with the vegetarian fare Mrs. Games and I selected for dinner.


King Dude’s performance was something I had eagerly anticipated. I have seen TJ Cowgill’s previous band, Book of Black Earth, on many occasions and was intrigued when I learned of his new project. The records were a pleasant surprise and I was interested in how, both musically and visually, it would translate live.

Cowgill’s deep knowledge of the occult, esoteric magic, and Gnosticism was a fixture in the lyrics of Book of Black Earth and lends much to King Dude. The band, Cowgill accompanied by Nicholas Friesen intermittently on floor tom and guitar, was framed by a massive and blackened American flag. The flag was bordered by two candles guttering on stands. King Dude’s music is often compared to Death in June or Sol Invictus and I hear much of that in their work. Live, I was struck by how much they channel the darker aspects of American folk in the same vein as Nike Cave. I also heard a bit of Swans and Leonard Cohen. The evening’s performance drew primarily upon Love and Burning Daylight. The execution of the material was exquisite with Cowgill’s smoky rasps enhanced by the ominous tempo of the Friesen’s drumming.  The standout of the performance was the macabre sing a long of “Lucifer is the Light of the World.” Recorded the track is ominous; live it evokes a dark bit of whimsy. By the end of their performance it was clear why King Dude are so acclaimed.

Down came the flag and Chelsea Wolfe took the stage flanked by a violinist and keyboardist, all framed by the guttering candles. Wolfe’s black dress was set off a bit by the bouquet of white roses on her mic stand. The set was comprised mostly of her most recent release, the acoustic Unknown Rooms. Her impressive vocal range was clearly evident, one moment harmonizing with the violinist and the next soaring above the music. While her style is clearly different I was, at times, reminded of Kate Bush’s finer moments during Wolfe’s performance. Towards the end of the set Cowgill joined Wolfe on stage for an excellent rendition of King Dude’s “My Mother was the Moon”.

On balance the performance was excellent and the venue seemed to enhance the atmosphere. Mrs. Games and I contently left the theater into the night’s enveloping darkness. It seemed an apt extension of the evening’s vibe.

– Captain of Games

I Think I’m Getting Old…

Posted in Gigs, Reviews with tags , , , on September 17, 2012 by Magadh

Well, it’s finally happened. I’ve actually been chased out of a show (figuratively speaking of course) by the intensely irritating quality of other people there. In 25 or so years of attending shows this has never happened to me before. And it’s not like I haven’t been around plenty of irritating fuckers. I attended shows in Portland, Oregon throughout the 1980s when the dudes from Portland United Skinheads would smash people into the support post in the middle of the pit at the Satyricon and smackheads would be passed out in the street outside. I hung tough during the infamous Unleashed/Morbid Angel/Entombed show at Portland Underground where the white power shitheads in the audience said such nasty things to Alex Hellid that Entombed stopped playing after like five songs. I’ve been hit, stabbed, doused in beer, even vomited on, but I’ve never left a show out of pure annoyance before.

The show the other night at Now That’s Class was always going to be a tough ask for me. I’ve been having to get up at 5:00 AM for work lately and I don’t quite have the late night staying power that I used to. And then there was the fact that this show featured six fucking bands. With all due respect to the people who put the whole thing on (and I have much respect for them) the days when I could hang through six bands are long, long gone. Now, some of you out there will be saying, “Oh whingeing oldster, why did you not take a nap and show up late?” That is a fair question. The reason is that I had no idea what order the bands were going on. It would have been one thing if I had just been going to see Masakari (since they are always likely to be pretty late in the count), but I wanted to see Lucha Eterna too and I simply couldn’t predict when they were going to play.

In the event, it was a good thing that I turned up when I did, since Lucha Eterna played first. And by the way, they ripped. Angry, sloppy, raging, hi speed mid-80s type punk played as if the building was on fire. I tried to get pictures, but their singer was flailing around with such gusto that I was afraid he was going to put his fist in my ear, and that’s another thing I’ve gotten too old for.

Those of you at the show will certainly remember the guy in the white vest with the two-tone creepers. What an irritating asshole. He was blind drunk the moment that I walked in, and I kept hoping that he would lose consciousness so that I could hang out in peace. Sadly, the passionate intensity of this particular alcohol sodden id was not to be denied. When he got to talking about how none of his “boys” were there with him but that they would come down tomorrow and dominate the pit, the mix of irritation and pathos that had plagued me all night finally overwhelmed my desire to see the rest of the bands. Sorry to the last three bands of the night, I’ll write you guys up next time.

On the up side, I spent a few minutes chatting with…well, I won’t drop names. Suffice to say, I got to sit in on a really interesting discussion of Japanese hardcore and to trade stories about Sakevi with some folks who understood. Various other matters were discussed, including…

The Nemesis 7”: Totally ripping Japanese thrash from Fukuoka. Those in search of (or in need of) points of comparison might think of a slightly simpler version of Gauze. They don’t quite get as crazy, and the recording sound is a lot rawer than everything but Fuckheads. They were kind of similar to Ashrain as well, although with a notably crisper guitar sound.

I heard Kansas City d-beat artists’ No Master’s Ruthless Future 7” a couple of years ago. It was grimy and guttural, but didn’t really blow my doors off. They’ve come out with another 7” now, which is self-titled, and this one really kicks the crap out of the first one. For one thing, it’s recorded a little better, but at a basic level they just seem to have arranged their songs a bit better. They sound a bit like Raw Noise, or like Aftermath (the one that was ex-Hellkrusher not the one from Portland). Anyway, it the risk of turning this post into simply a collection of “things that are raw,” this is stripped down, angry d-beat: no frills, but a lot aggro and it’s pretty tightly played in the bargain.

I saw the Nightbringer CD in a photo posted on Farcebook and was curious. This is not the NS-tinged black metal band from Colorado. I think these guys are from Detroit. This CD, which is available in digital form from Bandcamp, compiles a couple of earlier releases with some new material (at least I think it does). In any case, my original draft for a review of this record comprised exactly two words: Oh shit. This is full on old school hardcore played mostly at breakneck pace and lacking even the slightest hint of metallic styling. I dig this for a lot of reasons. Of course, this is a style that I really like, especially when executed well, as it is here. Also, they mix in some nice, melodic elements without getting sappy and diluting the aggressive quality of their music. Even with these more mellow moments, the real hard charging approach is never far away. This thing kicks ass from the word go and doesn’t back down. It is most excellent.

Well, that’s enough for me now. I have some grindcore type records around that I’ll get to next time. Until then try to avoid getting eaten by zombies.


Discharge Live: Victoria Hall Hanley Stoke

Posted in Gigs with tags , , on August 31, 2012 by Magadh

The fine people at Cvlt Nation have alerted us to this amazing live set from Discharge. Please enjoy their destruction of the Victoria Hall Hanley Stoke. The set is from 1983

Murderess, Vektor, and Others

Posted in Gigs with tags , , on August 17, 2012 by Magadh

I’m going to concede at the outside that this is pretty poor rock journalism. In my days writing for The Rocket, I was schooled in the practice of reviewing shows. Start with something to catch the reader’s eye and then talk about the bands in order of importance: headliner first and if you say anything about the opening band, it can be something like, “they played.” For reasons that will become clear as this goes on, I will not be employed this format.

With the Captain out on assignment in the wild west, I’d been hanging out alone in the bunker for days. I’d really been at loose ends. Without the Captain’s witty banter to motivate me, I’d found myself wandering the corridors, quietly singing snatches of Discharge songs, or watching old episode of The Rockford Files on our broken down VHS. Having nothing else to occupy my time, and needing to come up with something to post, I headed over to the west side to what was going on at Now That’s Class. I’d heard of the headlining band, Vektor (who hail from Tempe, Arizona), but it’s not like I was desperate to see them.

In fact, I was a bit jaded. Sitting at the bar, waiting for things to get going, I sketched out the opening of the piece that I was going to write. It went like this:

Going to shows has a Groundhog’s Day sort of feel to me. Sitting under the blue glare of a neon Natural Light sign, listening to Maiden on the bar sound system, drinking Pabst, wishing I had a cigarette. It could be Portland, Nottingham, New York, Seattle, Cleveland. It really doesn’t make a difference at this point. In my younger days, I thought that rock was infinite variation. Now I know better, but the sameness has a comforting aspect. At least I always know what to expect.

Having nattered on like this for a while, I wandered into the back room to see the first band. I figured I’d take a couple of pictures, then head back to the bar to await more interesting fare. What happened next jarred me out of my self-indulgence. Portland’s Murderess took the stage, having been added to the bill on an impromptu basis to fill in the space between shows in Toronto and Pittsburgh. As a Portland old boy, I recognized the name, but I didn’t know their music. They were kind enough to introduce me and everyone else in the joint to it by laying down an absolutely blistering set.

Their stuff runs a hardcore gamut from d-beat to straight thrash and even incorporating black metal elements. Their singer had a voice that sounded like someone tearing a piece of steel in half. If you listed the very best thrash band front women, the likes of Tam from Sacrilege, Amy from Nausea, or Gerda from Misantropic, Murderess’s singer would certainly belong among them. She absolutely tore it apart. She was just the tip of the iceberg. From first to last, Murderess tore it up. There was a really funny vibe in the room. No one there expected to see this band. No one there (or very few) knew what was about to happen. About five seconds into their first song, there were jaws dropping around the room. There was a sort of collective “oh shit” moment as everyone in the gaff began to recognize the blazing thrash on offer.

This is one of those moments of beautiful serendipity with which the underground is so rich. I had absolutely zero expectations (and my self-indulgent moping above makes clear) and I was rewarded for taking the trouble to come out by a really awesome experience. This too I will say, I had the chance to chat with them after they played and they are really pleasant people. I had a lot of fun talking about some people that we knew in common, and they were very polite about listening to me drone on about things that happened years before they were born.

I ended up sitting around at their merch table talking their guitarist Rachel (one of those really bright individuals that you occasionally run into who renews one’s faith in the scene). At a certain point, I realize that I’d missed all of the other bands and that Vektor was about to go on. I had no idea what to expect, but I was in for another pleasant surprise. Their logo bears a certain similarity to Voi Vod’s. It’s not a coincidence. Their sound is very old school thrash, although the referent point that came to mine was less War and Pain and more Dark Angel’s We Have Arrived. Lots of damped back picking and songs of rock opera length were their stock in trade and they took to it with aplomb.

This show really reminded me about why I come out to stuff like this. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, I walk into something I didn’t expect. Ears ringing, I headed happily back to bunker land.


Gig Review

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , on July 1, 2012 by Magadh

Napalm RaidMetalianMasakariNekrofilthRohmer
Now That’s Class, Cleveland, OH
30 June 2012

I feel as if I should offer the following as a public service to hardcore bands coming through this town. If you get booked with Masakari, you had really better bring you’re “A” game. If you do not, you will simply get embarrassed. They played a titanic show with All Pigs Must Die a couple of months ago and showed themselves to be on par with the very best acts in North America.

Rohmer opened the gig, which happened in the bar area at Now That’s Class (hence my somewhat subpar photographs). They got off to a bit of a rocky start, sounding muddy and with their vocalist totally buried by the wall of sound that the produced. By their second song they had matters sorted. Their bread and butter is the sort of low frequency thrash with melodic tinges that is all the rage these days. In truth, they sounded a bit like Masakari, but without quite reaching the latter’s surging intensity. They were really starting to grow on me after a few songs, but one of their guitarists broke a string, and since it was close to the end of their time they decided to pack it in. It was, nonetheless, an impressive showing.

Next came Nekrofilth, who were impressive as well, although for rather different reasons. As they kicked into their raw and aggressive black thrash attack, it quickly became clear that their singer/guitarist was completely rat ass drunk. The only reason he was three sheets to the wind is because he was too hammered to find his fourth sheet. In point of fact, this did not detract in any serious way from their performance. They managed to keep raging, even during those occasions when their main guy was falling over sideways. They have a split out now with Nunslaughter, and I give them props because they were selling copies of it on cassette.

Things got real when Masakari hit the stage. This is their next to last gig before they head off to Europe for a month, and the last time that people in Cleveland would get to see them before that kicks off. True to form, they did not disappoint. After a brief interlude where they played a different fragment from one of the sound clips on The Prophet Feeds, the lads treated the crowd to and onslaught of absolutely blistering thrash. Masakari do not beat around the bush. They beat the bush into submission and then set fire to the remains.

Undaunted by this, Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Napalm Raid came on and played like their hair was, collectively, on fire. Their deep throated, aggressive crust brought forth frantic slamming from a crowd that had spent most of the previous set in head-bobbing awe. Remarkably, I noticed that the guy from Nekrofilth was in the middle of the action. This was particularly impressive given that an hour previously he had been almost too drunk to stand. Unfortunately, the quarters were close, and his flailing fist caught me upside the head three or four times. Oh well. I guess that not (well not nearly) the worst thing that’s ever happened to me in the pit.

Sadly for Metalian, things were getting on toward 1:00 AM, and I had to get back to the Thousand Trivs bunker before the auto security systems kicked in.

Napalm Raid are almost done with a long tour. They’ll be in Toronto tonight and then Montreal on Monday on their way back home. Masakari’s European tour, with the also awesome Alpinist, starts in Hamburg next weekend. The full schedule is here.


NOMADS: Night​.​Owls​/​/​Mayhem​.​Aficionados​/​/​Death​.​Seekers

Posted in Gigs, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by Magadh


I occasionally peruse the website of Los Angeles based DIY clothing label Wartime Collective. During one of my recent visits I took a gander at their blog and encountered hard assed Angelinos Nomads, I was immediately blown away.

Nomads are a 5 piece who play d-beat hardcore in the vein of Anticimex and Skitsystem with a smattering of Nausea influenced guitar solos thrown in. Their tape/download release Night.Owls//Mayhem.Aficionados//Death.Seekers is unrelenting. The EP features 3 tracks of aural assault clocking in at just under 5 minutes. If you’re looking for something to rage to, Nomads are your huckleberry.

To learn more about Nomads, pick up the tape release, or download the EP come this way
If you live in Fullerton check them out here


– Captain of Games

Burning Bridges: Narrows Occupy SxSW

Posted in Gigs with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by Magadh

Drink deep, it’s just a taste, and it might not come this way again,
I believe in moments, transparent moment, moments in grace when you’ve got to stake your faith

– Rites of Spring

South By Southwest has become a self-parody; any vestige of promotion for independent artists and labels has been rapidly replaced by a soul-crushing circle jerk of payola and corporate scheming. One need only see a stage (named the Jacked stage no less) in shape of a giant Doritos vending machine to think that, perhaps, the human experiment has run its course. 


 Yet, it was there I found myself in the company of dear friends Narrows  (who were themselves accompanied by tour manager/roadie/merch lord/fantastic human Rich Hall) as they hit Austin with tourmates and force of nature, All Pigs Must Die. With the exception of the Power of the Riff/Southern Lord/Brooklyn Vegan showcase, my primary motivation was to watch Narrows lay waste to all before them as they played 5 shows in 3 days (and to get tattooed by Steve Byrne). It’s funny how things work out.


Brooklyn Vegan/Chaos in Tejas have, for several years running, promoted a guerilla show at 2 a.m. on the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge. The shows on the bridge have been something of an Austin tradition, and I was perplexed but rather pleased to find myself surrounded by 400 kids as Regents started their 2 a.m. set powered by a gas generator and purloined city power. Regents feature ex-member of Sleepy Time Trio and Maximillian Colby, and I’d had the pleasure of seeing them at a BBQ earlier in the day. They dashed through their four-song set (the maximum allotted to each band) and we set about switching equipment so Narrows could keep things moving. Narrows were, in a word, amazing — because the setting itself was amazing. Anything I write won’t do it justice but I’ve included photos from Shawn Scallen which perfectly capture the night. It seems fitting that the man whose photos graced the pages of Heartattack and inserts of Ebullition albums would be there to do the job.

Austin’s finest showed up following Narrow’s set and the show, unfortunately, ended there. But that 20 minutes…ah, that was perfect. Drink deep ladies and gentlemen.


– Captain of Games