Friday, November 1, 2013

Watain in New Orleans, 10/31/2013

After posting this last night whilst half asleep, I decided I was not happy with the result and decided to do a revision.

Rather than going to a Halloween party dressed as a skank and a douche like so many of our fellow... ugh... "millenials" do on Halloween, I decided to take my most fair associate, Spynal, to see her favourite band. A black metal show on Halloween in the city that is the gestation point of a thousand superstitions, an obvious recipe for a good time. The show was to start at 9 p.m., with doors opening at 8 p.m., but we arrived early..... perhaps too early. Siberia, for those of you who are as unfamiliar with it as I was before this show, is a small bar on St. Claude Ave. just on the edge of the Marigny. The stage is situated immediately to the right of the front door and there is no side entrance. This means that the performers have to haul their gear in through the front door. This, coupled with our incredibly early (2 and a half hours) arrival, afforded us an opportunity for some rather comical celebrity (and I use that term loosely, of course) people watching. A lot of this was courtesy of the shows second support act, In Solitude. The pants these guys wore were ridiculous. So tight that it looked like they had to be poured into them in the morning... despite the fact that four members of this Swedish quintet have the physique of mid 70s Geddy Lee. After their sound check (which was finishing up as we arrived), they could be seen walking around the audience in a single file line.... seemingly organized in descending order by height.... almost like a group of gangly, Scandinavian ducks. This, coupled with their rather blank facial expressions, was a source for much unintentional humour for the pair of us. When I say blank, i mean blank...... like Mtv reality show blank. Mouths agape, eyes glazed over and fixed off toward the distance in a permanent state of wonder. After a bit of a delay caused by local show openers Abysmal Lord failing to show up promptly for their sound check, the show finally got underway a little after 9 p.m.

Abysmal Lord were terrible, though likely not for the reasons you would expect. Their riffs were good enough, they performed tight enough.... but the songs were too repetitive for the length that they were. They were also structurally very similar. You know the drill.... upbeat blast section, punk/thrashy double time section, blues waltz section, end... the fairly standard issue structure of a black metal song. The vocals were also terrible. The vocalist's mic was treated with a toxic combination of reverb and delay that rendered the vocals a complete distraction. Their set was short, and both of us were glad when they were done.

The second band of the night were what could best be described as an "ultra traditional heavy metal band" from Sweden (the same area of the country as Watain if i'm remembering correctly) called In Solitude. Their sound rested somewhere between Mercyful Fate and Sad Wings era Judas Priest. They played fairly tight and had excellent tone. Once again, the problem with them was one of sameness. Too many of the songs sounded alike..... only being distinguishable from each other thanks to between song banter. About two or three songs into their set, Spynal dragged me off to the merch counter.... and I was all too happy for the escape. On the positive side, they were a bit more energetic than the other opening acts.. what with all of the ridiculous power metal poses they struck. During their set, a couple of the guys from Watain actually entered the bar and circulated among the crowd a bit. Erik (always followed by some roadie who stunk of patchouli and cheap vanilla cigars) was perched over in the shadows by the back wall for a bit of this set. My companion "stalked" him, which is to say she talked to him twice for a grand total of about ten minutes.

Main support was provided by a black metal band called Tribulation. Who, believe it or not, were actually the biggest snobs of the four bands there. They did not emerge from the tour bus until In Solitude were finishing up their last song. They were pretty standard issue and boring. A group of four shirtless oafs in corpse paint with all the stage presence of a pet rock turning out the same boring, tremolo picked crap we've all heard a thousand times over. Their vocalist didn't banter between songs, so their set was short..... which was a good thing. During this time, I was standing over near the pool table at the back of the main room when I felt someone rather obnoxiously barge past me. I looked over and saw what looked like a rough midget trucker who Spynal quickly informed me was Hakan, the drummer of Watain. He proceeded to give her a bit of a hostile stare... which kind of pissed me off thinking about it, but I largely ignored him. When Tribulation finished up their set and made a hasty rush for the door, the road crew began the set change for Watain.

When Watain took the stage, Spynal and I decided to move toward the front of the stage. Her right in front, and me directly behind her. This, of course, didn't last very long. As soon as the first song started..... some pecker wood started tugging at my arm in an attempt to toss me into the mosh pit. After scuffling with him for a bit, a gargantuan Swede on Watain's roadcrew pulled me into what could best be described as a half sleeper hold and proceeded to deliver a single fisted beat down to my assailant. I spent the first three songs of Watain's set with some dude that looked like a blonde Kahl Drogo's knee up my ass and arm around my chest. Not a very welcome or comfortable position. Somewhere in this fray, Spynal was somewhat trampled by a couple folks rushing the stage and got forced onto the stage. Then there was some fat douche that looked like Jimmy from Eyehategod who spent most of the set instigating mosh pits then recoiling like a pussy when he got caught in one. This, of course, ended abruptly when the aforementioned gargantuan Swede proceeded to wrap his fingers around the fat bastard's neck and reared back to punch him in the face. After recoiling in horror and then acting like a big man in front of his girlfriend (despite his pathetic display just moments earlier), he was a great deal more tame for the rest of the show. At one point, some fellow flipped Erik off and proceeded to rush the stage only to be greeted by the rather diminutive front man's fist (it actually looked like he caught the dude in the jaw with a part of the microphone). I could go on longer about the entertaining chaos of the moshpit, but I have to talk about Watain. I've tried, and failed, several times to get into this band, but apart from Casus Luciferi.... none of their albums hold my attention for very long. Of course, they are one of Spynal's favourite bands, so I decided to take her to the show. I had heard many good things about Watain's live show, so i figured this would be a last ditch attempt for me to try and find something I like about them. Unfortunately.... between the perpetual blanket of red fog over the stage, ominous music that played while Erik worked the crowd between songs, and pig heads impaled on inverted crosses..... I just found the whole experience rather corny and reminiscent of the Stonehenge and Rock n Roll Creation scenes in This is Spinal Tap. They were a very tight, energetic, and (dare i say) charismatic band though.

In closing, despite finding the venue likeable, the show just wasn't my thing. While I may be a sucker for a woman with blue eyes, apparently i'm not much one for Black Metal. Spynal, on the other hand, greatly enjoyed the show (even when Pelle, for whatever reason, randomly stopped in front of us and screamed "WATAIN!!" in her face)... which more than made it worth the cost. This, of course, being New Orleans.... some of the freaks at the show were entertaining to see (especially on St. Claude Ave. during Halloween).