Sunday, October 31, 2010

10.29.2010, FTW

Nowadays, we almost never go out. I go out when I'm playing a show or having HIO drinkie-talkie; my sweetie goes out about half the time when I'm playing, or when she's going to Jubilee Theater with her work peeps. But Friday night, we wanted to celebrate her giving her presentation from this year's Texas Speech and Hearing Association to her colleagues up in Birdville ISD, and the Grotto had a perfect storm of a bill: the mighty Me-Thinks, with the Dangits and Pinkish Black in support. The Dangits had to back out at the last minute due to Mike's being under the weather (although Branden told me that they were still gonna play at Caves last night), but the addition of E.T.A. (said it before, meant it: most exciting band in DFW) in the middle slot made it a must-see for us.

Pinkish Black really is my favorite band now. Nobody else is more creative; these guys are writing new material all the time and like the Stooges in their heyday, they don't play "old stuff." Ever. Their set is in its second or third incarnation since Tommy Atkins' death led to the name change from The Great Tyrant. Jon Teague said they wrote their first half hour of music in a week immediately following Tommy's passing; nothing slows these guys down. (They still have two albums of material recorded as the Tyrant in the can; one hopes they'll find an outlet to release 'em soon.)

While their sound is still dark, heavy, and gothic, with Jon playing some synth (as well as drumming with precisely controlled violence), as he did in the post-Doug Ferguson days of Yeti and still does in his solo project Zeitmorder (German for "time killer," heh heh), there are some faster tempos in their repertoire now, along with touches of pop, punk, and even prog. Daron Beck is deftly adept at playing the basslines with his right hand while laying all manner of keyb/synth damage atop them with his right, and is singing more in his natural voice (rather than "trying to sound like a monster") -- a good thing, I think, as he has a killer set of pipes sans F/X.

The soundguy said that PB were too loud, which caused Daron to remark on mic at the end of their set that "This is probably the last time you'll be seeing us here." Pinkish Black will, however, be at the Chat Room tonight for their annual Halloween extravaganza with Transistor Tramps and Vaults of Zin, a young band Teague has compared to Yeti.

One wonders what the soundguy thought when E.T.A. (short for Elvis Took Acid) took the stage, since the volume knob on Johnny Trashpockets' Marshall is broken and it's stuck in the "loud" position, and when Johnny essayed the theme from King of the Hill for their soundcheck, you could feel it in your solar plexus. The dreadlocked, pierced guitarist cuts a menacing figure onstage, offset by his self-deprecating wiseass interjections in between songs.

The contrast between him and frontman Brooks Holliday is quite striking. As my sweetie points out, Brooks is such a resolutely normal looking guy, towering at center stage in his Air Force shirt, that once the music starts and he transforms into a banshee-howling, bugeyed lunatic, the effect is quite...impactful. Behind him, Philly the Kid pounds the shit out of his tiny kit with more flash 'n' panache than your average tub-thumper, while stage left, bassist Viktor Bruschkopf (who was under the weather his own self this particular night) is the detail guy, filling every hole in the sound with thunderous rapidfire lines. Great songs, great presence, and great attitudes. See these guys you must.

Hadn't seen the mighty Me-Thinks in a coon's age, but they made the trip worthwhile with special onstage accoutrements (capes! which Sir Marlin Von Bungy sez he wants them to wear all the time, and Ray's Hank von Helvete-like makeup; there's something about the mask that makes it easier to be theatrical). Besides spending the last half year dealing with some health issues that thankfully appear resolved now, Ray's been a busy fella, sangin' with the li'l Stoogeband, drumming with "wizard metalers" Vorvon, playing "everything else" in The Pungent Sound, singing a song on Epic Ruins' stoner rock opus, painting a mural for Lola's and doing graphics for lotsa folks under the Pussyhouse Propaganda umbrella. Whew!

Aurally, the Me-Thinks were unusually on-point, with the guitar interplay between Marlin and Mike Bandy particularly noteworthy. A big plus: they only turned on the goddamn smoke machine for a minute. And it was a typically brotherly gesture for Marlin to let Johnny from E.T.A. use his SG Custom when he busted a string midway through their set.

The Grotto has some of the clubhouse vibe of the late lamented Wreck Room. It ain't my clubhouse -- I've become too much of an old homebody for that -- but I'm happy that it exists.


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