April brought a deluge of unmissable shows to town. There’s no way I could review them all in full, but here are some notes on what I saw last month.
Clutch with Orange Goblin, April 3 at the Commodore Ballroom
I honestly wasn’t that familiar with Orange Goblin, despite having read about them for years. They turned out to be a rowdy lot, riling up the crowd with their Motörhead-calibre attack. Clutch had it pretty easy after that. Vancouver sure loves them. They played a punchy set very much in the vein of Earth Rocker. That jam band they’d been transforming into was nowhere to be seen this night.
Black Wizard with War Baby and Astrakhan, April 5 at the Interurban Gallery
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, April 6 at the Vogue Theatre
I finally got to see Nick Cave, and it was worth the wait. The band was flawless (and loud!) and the set list could not be quibbled with. What I did find interesting as a first-timer was that Cave played exclusively to the first three rows of people—those who were within his physical reach. Apart from acknowledging the balcony once or twice, he didn’t exactly bring the whole room together, or transform the theatre into an intimate space. Still, Nick Cave. Phwoar.
Yob, April 6 at the Interurban Gallery
After Nick Cave, I dashed across to the DTES in time to catch Yob’s entire set. I could not have a better life. Trying to describe Yob at the Interurban and do it justice would be impossible. If you know Yob, you know the deal—they really were crushing and transcendent. They played a big chunk of Atma and a sick, gilding-the-lily encore of “Quantum Mystic.” Mike Scheidt is one of the best guitarists I have ever seen. I’m glad I had almost two weeks to recover from that night.
La Chinga with No Sinner, Three Wolf Moon and Harma White, April 19 at the Rickshaw Theatre
This was La Chinga’s album release show (and what an album it is). No Sinner drew the biggest crowd. Three Wolf Moon are always a pleasure to see/hear. I just saw enough of Harma White to realize I was foolish for missing most of their set.
Subrosa with Eight Bells, Astrakhan and Dungeons, April 20 at the Astoria
The two local openers played on the Astoria floor. The consistently impressive Astrakhan are really pushing themselves with their epic songs. They’re reminding me of a certain other local band who’ve broken internationally this year. Portland trio Eight Bells made superb use of effects to enhance their alternately blackened and cosmic compositions. Guitarist Melynda Jackson looked so anxious up there, like it was all going to collapse at any moment; I was rooting for them. Subrosa were unexpectedly brutal in a live setting. With twin violins squalling away and guitar/bass/drums pounding with full force, it was a bulldozer of sound. This gig had an enjoyable “no-goofs” vibe. Ted was there, too, and he took some incredible pictures.
Absu with Auroch, Terrifier, and Xul, April 24 at the Biltmore Cabaret
Wow, Absu actually played the Biltmore. I caught most of Xul’s set and thought they were solid. Terrifier’s speed/thrash attack really impressed me. The always-deadly Auroch were a quartet for this gig, with Shawn from Mitochondrion on bass. The floor filled up for Absu, thus I could barely see them. I eventually found one spot where I could see Proscriptor at work, headset mic and all. Quite the masterclass.
Device with The Twitch, April 26 at the Princeton Pub
Device drummer Kyle Harcott might humbly scoff at his band’s inclusion on this list, but I was really looking forward to this show. Device represent an alternate universe where my own weekend band learns to play its own songs properly, gets a singer, and plays gigs. Good on them for getting out there and doing it. Their original material is way cool meat-and-potatoes metal (or bacon-and-eggs metal, if you prefer Metal For Breakfast), free from trends and “extreme” bollocks. And they encored with “Snowblind” and “Wrathchild.” What more could I want? A raucous yet relaxing way to end an action-packed, sleep-deprived month.