“There is an answer in a question/ And there is hope within despair/ And there is beauty in a failure/ And there are depths beyond compare/ There is a role of a lifetime/ And there's a song yet to be sung/ And there's a dumpster in the driveway/ Of all the plans that came undone/ How could something so fair/ Be so cruel/ When this black sun revolved/ Around you”—“Black Sun” by Death Cab For Cutie, from new album Kintsugi
Here are some questions: Do you wanna rock out? Are you hopeful that doing so will assuage your sense of failure and despair? Do you dig all things metallic? Is there a metaphorical dumpster in the driveway of your life? If so, follow along, dear Alibi reader, as we explore depths beyond compare available and revolving around the sun—especially for you.
Courtesy of artist
Your totally bitchin’ springtime concert-of-the-year is surely and awesomely apparent on yon horizon. I’m talking about the show happening on Friday, April 3, at Launchpad (618 Central SW). It features YOB, Witch Mountain and Tenderizor.
Post-metal/doom outfit YOB hails from the deep, dark woods adjacent to Eugene, Ore. This terrific trio is made up of founder Mike Scheidt on guitars and vocals and the mountainous rhythm section of Aaron Rieseberg (bass) and Travis Foster (drums). YOB gets the metallic job done with a combination of pleasantly plangent, wandering guitar licks, brooding basslines and succinct percussive antics. Their latest release Clearing the Path to Ascend features memorably lengthy tuneage like “Marrow” and “Nothing to Win.”
Witch Mountain's blues-based take on doom lumbers languidly like a ghost in a haunted Columbia River Valley graveyard. A quartet starring the talents of Rob Wrong (guitar), Nathan Carson (percussion), Kayla Dixon (vocals) and Justin Brown (bass), Witch Mountain sounds like what might have resulted if Sandy Denny had gone with Black Sabbath instead of Led Zeppelin all those years ago. Tenderizor, an evil group of gentlemen from Burque, performs arcane sonic/sacrificial rituals as opener. Just $12 gets you into this 21-plus encounter with metallic tuneage. The doors to the abyss open at 8pm, and the insidious incantations begin at 9:30pm.
Get your fill of apocalyptic celebration and sludgy libations on Friday night, and spend the following morning soaking up what’s left of the sun. Later, thrash on over to Sunshine Theater (120 Central SW) on Saturday, April 4, for a recital by Testament, Exodus and Shattered Sun. The headbanging will reach epic proportions at this one. Testament is guitarist Eric Peterson and a constantly evolving ensemble of sidemen. Current acolytes include double kick-drum maestro Gene Hoglan and the soaring yet guttural vocalizations of Chuck Billy. In one form or another, Testament has been at it for over 30 years, so their cred runs as deep as their discography.
Bay Area thrash progenitor Exodus—which counts Metallica’s Kirk Hammett among its former comrades—provides a toothsome, tenacious turn midway through the evening's sped-up showmanship. On top of all that, Texan troubadours/metal maniacs Shattered Sun open. Their debut Hope Within Hatred hits record stores on April 21. Tickets range in price from $22 to $160, but the big ticket includes a meet-and-greet with rock gods. This 13-plus affair starts at 7pm, but the doors to Sunshine open at 6pm. Arrive early to score a prime spot in the mosh pit before the sound starts roaring in your ears like a locomotive.
Okay, so it's not exactly metal—and I may suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune for implying such—but Española Valley crew Hartless is a cover band that reprises the work of prestigious pop-metal acts like Heart, Scandal and Foreigner. They have a gig on Sunday, April 5, at Sister (407 Central NW). Hartless focuses on seamless delivery of prodigious chops and an acute sense of mimicry engendered by founding members Tess Fresquez and La Rain Valdez.
In collaboration with bandmates Lionel Agoyo, Marcus Difillipo and Alberto Alcocer, Hartless does justice to the genre by adhering to renditions of tunes you thought were encased in amber; these songs are actually starting points for instrumental and vocal exchanges of the highest order. Don’t worry about spreading the bread for this excellent experience. It’s a free, 21-plus show that starts at 8pm and continues until the witching hour calls you home.
And now for this week's poignant, superb coup de grâce. Spirit Abuse (1103 Fourth Street NW) is closing for good. The storied venue—a brief but brilliant local nexus of noise, nuance and postmodern musical madness—goes out in style with a listening party on Tuesday, April 7. This ultimate recital features Father Murphy, Tapered and Death Convention Singers.
Italy's Father Murphy isn’t actually a priest. But the outfit’s output is nonetheless reminiscent of the sound of Catholic guilt. Ornate, perplexing and ultimately cathartic, Father Murphy's purpose lies beyond mere transcendence and reaches into the realm of industrial interventions and leaden luxury. Their sound is heavy duty and further complicated by psychedelic overtures and European aesthetics.
Peculiar post-folk ensemble Tapered features members of A Hawk and A Hacksaw, Teetotum and Deerhoof. Drummer Jeremy Barnes (also of Neutral Milk Hotel) and local experimentalists Heather Trost, Rosie Hutchinson, Drake Hardin and John Dieterich perform at this celebratory send-off. Death Convention Singers is the biggest, noisiest PoMo ensemble of them all—not counting the audience at last month’s Kim Gordon book signing—and they begin the evening's procession toward post-metal posterity at 9:15pm. It’s only seven bucks to get in, and just think—you can still be part of something historic.
Death Cab For Cutie took their name from a song by The Bonzo Dog Band, a brilliant facet of an otherwise disastrous Beatles' TV concert film titled Magical Mystery Tour. George Harrison and John Lennon escaped the bus for a while to take in a show at a strip club that featured Viv Stanshall, Neil Innes and company playing a tune as plaintive as it is ironic. Innes would gain fame as part of the Monty Python crew. Stanshall, one of rocanrol’s greatest unknowns, did all sorts of beautiful work before burning to death in his Muswell Hill apartment after popping too many Valium while smoking in bed. One might rightly ask, how could something so fair be so cruel? Instead of pondering such weighty mysteries, just get your metal on. It’s the role of a lifetime, sabes?