I was just walking away from the bar, stepping up, Pabst in hand, when I heard “Gastonia.” I knew my friends in Homewrecker were about to start. The dense fog that filled the air and that ever-familiar smell that accompanies it, it felt as if we were all ready. It was choking and we were all about to find out that the music was too. As the smoke began to thin out you could see their black metal faces, the music was anything but. Starting off with a bit of country twang and then a slap to the face with raucous garage punk, they touched on everything from surf to pop-punk while retaining the Rough Trade and Touch & Go influences that spotted the songwriting.
With fuzzy guitars and crisp, clean drums, the juxtaposition of some of the discordant sounds made for the perfect balance. Some songs were like lullabies that had been taken apart and re-stitched in a different fashion, lost loves, parks in the fall. The red and blue lights illuminating them as the loud and abrasive yet comforting vocals blasted from the P.A. The compositions were full of tight songwriting and plenty of tension and release.
The harmonics of the single guitar would transport you to some dream like place, only to be brought right back to the world when the music would explode again. They captured Gastonia perfectly singing about ghettos and metal. Their set was over before it seemed like it had even gotten going. But, in that brief time, they brought true rock and roll and we were more than happy to be there and be glad in it.
Charlotte’s Musket King, the second band of the night, took the stage and right away their southern metal held us by the faces and even if we wanted it, it would not let us go. With plenty of crunchy guitars and bass and crushing blows to the ride and crash, we could feel the vibrations through the floors and the walls and probably our souls as well. The piercing vocals that sped across the room like church bells ringing through a deserted town reminded us, as if we’d forgotten, that they were there still clutching our faces tightly. Their Sabbath type riffs pounding away like a jackhammer to one single brick soon gave way to feedback and layered psychedelic guitar parts that took you to a noisy candy land.
To hell with the Amish, this WAS the devil’s playground. For it to have only been their second show they delivered with an uncompromising heaviness. Whether or not you liked it, they shoved the riffs right up your ass. Most importantly they were having fun and in real rock and roll isn’t that the only thing that really matters?
I had been looking forward to seeing Before The Eyewall for some time. When I heard they were coming, I knew I had to make my way to see the grand sanctity. The band, from Columbus, Ohio, brought not only something sacred and holy but also their epic doom upon us with all its resonance. The post-metal trio stood before us like some great monolith, their spiritual and magnanimous textural layering absolved us of any wretchedness we had within us.
With plenty of post-rock undertones we were swept away by the sonic current. There were times when it reminded me of Isis or early Pelican. The music made mazes for us all to be lost in. Mazes that perhaps were recreations of the labyrinths from where their sound comes from. With their beards, all I could imagine was an isolated and cold place, tucked well away from the rest of the prying eyes of the world. The relentless riffing and thundering bass oozed from the speakers, lifting us all on high and with any luck, undulated through the streets of Charlotte and also carried away the unprepared. The subtle nuances of the drums made it perfect in an absolute yet infinite sense. With themes touching on everything from nature to spirituality to the water cycle, a dead microphone laying in front of the stage and a clean atmospheric quality, we were all entranced. I don’t normally believe in magic but if there is such a thing, surely this must be it.
To top off a night of such crushing music and dense atmosphere was the already much loved Pig Mountain. They set up and right away their epic doom and stoner metal was laid before us, some great gift that we were lucky enough to have bestowed upon us. The slow and drone-y parts that crept along like salted slugs against the coarse concrete had us crawling with them. All the members seemed to be in a hypnotic state. A lamp with no shade and one lonely die perched upon the ride cymbal were their companions for the set.
The faster riffs, simple yet complex, reaffirmed this was not just another stoner metal band. With smooth bass-lines, devastating blows to the drums and effortless tempo and time signature changes, it was the perfect way to end the night. As I said before, when they crawled along, even at their slowest pace, we crawled with them and when they took off and set running, we naturally were running right behind. Running with them right to whatever god-forsaken land that Pig Mountain hails from and with so many songs about death I’d imagine it to be Mordor or maybe Texas.
Homewrecker, Musket King, Before the Eyewall and Pig Mountain, a set on Flickr (see rest of images there).