Monday, November 1, 2004
That’s Funny! ‘Cause Last Time I Checked, You Were a…
So basically, today ruled immensely. I didn’t really watch any horror movies (although I did watch a documentary about cryptozoology on the History Channel), and I didn’t pass out any candy to itinerant ghouls and ghosts, but this all was subordinated to the higher calling of pounding Madison’s youth into dust.
Voorhees took the stage around 8:00, after a band called Death to Desire (and about an hour of speculation over what exactly that name is supposed to evoke in the hearer). Tight jeans, awkwardly uncombed locks looped around where eyes and ears should be, Thrice t-shirts… this wasn’t a good sign. Their drummer’s yellow kit, however, was an inviting anomaly which seemed to convey a disregard for the textbook trappings of most heavy music, sounding a hopeful note that perhaps they weren’t just another screamo/metalcore/bogus band. Unfortunately, my preconceptions were confirmed somewhere around two of three measures into their first song as decibels of caterwauling criss-crossed with what sounded like a cat having its tail stepped on oozed out of the venue’s monitors. The heinous mishmash of sophomoric sonic stylings elicited the surely unintended consequence of putting to death any desire on my part to listen further.
Anticipation built as we set up for our performance. It seems like people everywhere recognize Jon and Zach from embracethisnight, so admirers made their way up frequently to shake hands and say what’s up. Many times the dialogue was not more profound than literally those two words. I had to laugh when people asked if embracethisnight was playing- no such luck, friend! We basically are a metalcore group with grind influences (and believe me, I HATE the word “metalcore,” but I suppose you have to just call a perch a perch sometimes). I’m no big fan of breakdowns but we have a few in our tunes that I’m pretty happy with, so that’s one item that sets us apart from your average ‘core band. We’re mostly about d-beats and blast beats, but I’d like to see more of those work their way into our songs as time goes on.
There may have been an element of dismay brewing in that room as well, owing to my admittedly off-putting attire- I don’t know why, but for some reason I thought that combat boots, multicolored leg warmers, a skirt, and a Holden Caulfield-style Eskimo hat was a good idea for a Halloween show. After some fine tuning to Drop C, some hi hat adjustment and mic checks for four awkward dudes (i.e. us), we were ready to tear.
Our set opener was “Rock Song” (the only lyrics of which are “Hey!”), a straightforward garage band style ditty with early 60’s era distortion on the guitar which Jon played (I hook up drums on that one). Zach did his classic Robert Plant shuffle where he first leans down and then resumes his normal posture as he taps his foot and traces a circle beside his right hip with his fist.* Our goal with that song is to lure listeners into a false sense of what the rest of the set is going to sound like, because we conclude it with a long barrage of double bass 32nd notes and a switch to a mega gnarly death metal guitar tone. Feedback gushed out of my amp as Jon and I switched instruments to unleash “Go to Sleep” upon our unsuspecting audience.
Zach and Eric are truly madmen, and make excellent frontmen. Eric in particular was a (tiny) demon up there onstage, perching like a gargoyle over the lip of the stage one second and jumping around the next, making a bigger ruckus than he actually physically is. Zach looks like he’s warding off unseen assailants as he screams and thrashes about the stage. And… I think the kids there were kind of dumbfounded, to tell you the truth. The thing is, we seemed to be too great an aural onslaught for them. I’m not putting them down or anything; I’m just saying that in all likelihood they had never heard anything this extreme yet, so they weren’t really prepared for the brutality that followed. They started to catch on, but I have to doubt that they had ever heard blast beats or cookie monster vocals before tonight, so the requisite hardcore dancing that I despise was interspersed with liberal amounts of wide eyed gawking as we shredded. The closing breakdown on that song inspired tectonic upheaval in the form of moshing and circle pit mayhem.
Zach accidentally unplugged my guitar during “The Principle of Cereal Made Flesh” (aka the Count Chocula song), but it was perfectly on beat, and Jon dropped out immediately. Then I shouted, “Aw, weak!” and Jon counted us back in quickly as I plugged back in. With psychic precision we fired up the breakdown riff like nothing untoward had ever transpired, and it just looked really funny. I think that it should be an actual segment of the song now; we already have random pauses and samples all over the place anyway. Also, we finally did justice to “We Bite,” tonight as well. Glenn Danzig would be proud… I hope.** Zach opened that song by asking the audience who liked the Misfits and about half a dozen hands went up. He continued the introduction but unsatisfied with the fervor I witnessed amongst the ranks of our listeners I cut him off and asked, “1977 to 1983?” or, to translate into normal English, “Do you appreciate the true Misfits, or the falsehoods that are released these days that tarnish their good name?” Needless to say, that went over like the proverbial lead balloon. Deflecting confused looks from the front row, Zach finished saying how much we loved that band and that it was only appropriate that we play one of their classics at a Halloween show. We launched into the power chord hyper-assault of the song’s intro and the pit was obliged to open at the beckoning of my scooped mid guitar attack and Jon’s relentless d-beats. The first guy to shoot his hand up in response to the Misfits query leapt onstage beside Zach, hunched down and spread his arms out like a grotesque punk rock fruit bat and jumped back into the pit as we started the third verse! We hooked up four way vocals on that one- Zach screeching like the wheels of the Grim Reaper’s chariot,*** Eric howling like a wounded yeti, me with the classic Cookie Monster grunts and Jon singing in his best impassioned Elvis impersonation. The Fruit Bat incident was of questionable purity, but it was more than made up for by those vox!
Our friend Tim filmed us from the front row and got some pretty rad footage of us owning that stage. Someone afterward asked if we were “mathcore”, but we don’t really have any crazy tech parts or any segments in 13/8 or anything like that. Given that this 14 year old has probably never even heard of Breadwinner or Botch, I doubt very much he knows what that word means. All in all, the crowd was good, and the venue owners were down and asked us if we’d play again (despite my objectionable wardrobe!) which I would in a heartbeat. A few bucketloads of sweat and a couple shredded picks later, we felt pretty accomplished in our mission of decimating kids’ eardrums and psyches. Basically, tonight was an exceptionally excellent Halloween, and I hope everyone else’s passed pleasingly as well. I wish everyone the absolute best. Oh, and on one last note: don’t confuse being stupid with having a good time. It only looks like a good time because you’re being stupid. Later, fiends.
*Watch Zeppelin playing in Denmark in ’69 if you want a full-on visual representation of this crucial move!
**He’s a notoriously hard man to please, so the odds are regrettably quite low.
***Does he have a chariot? I guess I just assumed.