Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Black Wizard, with Tobeatic, Weirding, The Rock Band Called Time, and WTCHDR at the Rickshaw Theater, June 30, 2012

As if playing in a ruling band wasn’t enough, Chris Dyck of Ancients (along with Sab Kay Design) has created Nothing Is Heavy to book and promote gigs around town. The first Nothing Is Heavy event went down last Saturday night, and the amazing lineup of local talent made for a storming show. Everything was heavy!

WTCHDR are turning into a tight, powerful unit. Forget about easing us into an evening dominated by somewhat more laid-back bands—WTCHDR gave us the full shock treatment. Their style incorporates a variety of tempos, from crawling sludge to pummelling grind. Most songs were brief explosions of chaos and anguish (their vocalist sounds like he has a lot on his mind), underpinned by two guitars downtuned to the key of Hell and some really impressive drumming. We had achieved liftoff.

The Rock Band Called Time not only have the coolest name ever, but they’re the sort of band that’s not afraid to rhyme “lose control” with “rock and roll”. They were just pure power-trio sweetness. Needless to say, I was on board from the first chord they struck. Playing such a classic style might look simple, but it’s not easy to pull off, especially in a trio format. Every note and every beat needs to stand on its own, or the whole enterprise falls apart. As the lead vocalist/lead guitarist, Braden is the most assured and accomplished performer, and clearly the musical force behind the band, but the rhythm section holds it together. Their drummer was playing on Weirding’s kit, which appeared to take him a song or two to get used to, but the whole band was quickly up and grooving. Their material was bang-on as well, nailing that no-nonsense ’70s style. You like Lizzy? Quo? Rory Gallagher? Maybe some newer retro-rock, like Firebird or Graveyard? Then you need to check these guys out.

Time for a power trio of a different stripe, shifting gears from speedin’ along the Freedom Rock highway to sinking into the tarpit of terror. Stoner/doom lords WEIRDING are all about power chords, amplifier worship, and relentless distortion curdling the air. While WEIRDING are a fantastic live band with a raft of memorable songs, their whole approach is also a testament to the simple joys of turning it up really fucking loud, slamming the pick hand down and going BRRRUUUUUUNNNGGG! I bet if you stood stock still in the theatre you’d vibrate clear across the floor. From the triumphant thud of opener “Bastard” (already a classic track in my mind) to the lurching horror of “As a Crown,” to the final feedback flourish, this was a brilliant set mostly drawn from their debut full-length, Each Birth Is a New Disaster, newly pressed on vinyl and available at the show. WEIRDING really have it together, lineup-wise. Each dude’s talents is well matched to the others, they all throw themselves into it, and I can’t imagine it being the same band should one of them leave. Guitar, bass, drums—they all crush.

During the changeover I could see that we were in for another change of pace with Tobeatic. There were now six musicians on stage, including up to three guitarists and a keyboardist with a bunch of effects boxes at hand. This could get interesting. But I wasn’t prepared for the total onslaught of the band in full flight. Tobeatic were like a gruesome collision between Uriah Heep and Motörhead, creating a glorious, riff-crazed racket that pushed beyond psych-rock territory into a truly dangerous realm. The now-packed room picked up on the vibe as well—people were starting to go off. The band's momentum was enough to shake off a kick-pedal disaster late in the set, get rolling again and power through to the end. Afther their deranged headrush of a set, I can't wait to catch them again. I'm still trying to process what I saw.

Failure notice: Sorry, but I bailed early and missed Black Wizard. My travelling companion, not used to such stacked bills, reached his saturation point after Tobeatic, and I kinda felt the same. But now I feel like kicking myself in the head for having missed them, based on the visual evidence in this Aaron Davidson photo gallery. Anyway, I paid the cover, bought merch—just trying to do my bit.