Syko-Maffia Weekend Warrior Tour @ The Carriage House April 2012

Friday April 6, 2012

The Syko-Maffia Weekend Warrior Tour

Phoenix Rising, This Moment of Grief, Sykosis and Mettal Maffia

The Carriage House in Louisville, OH


I’ve always been a fan of Louisville’s Carriage House. Mainly, I guess, because it’s a two story building and offers a great view from the second floor. You also get this at places like the Agora and Peabody’s, but the Carriage House offers many more angles from the top than I’ve seen anywhere else. Really the place has all sorts of great views. It’s just a great place to see a show, with a great spacious smoking patio and two great bars. Unfortunately they’ve retired their “Donkey Kong” arcade game for a golf one. And though it’s a bit of a drive out to the closer side of nowhere, it is one of the few places I know of that always has decent metal bands.

Friday was a little bit of an exception. The Facebook invite told me to be there at 7pm. Using my intuitive metal head knowledge I made sure to show up an hour later, only to end up spending another hour waiting around for the first band to play. I guess I’ll just have to assume that all shows at the Carriage House start at 9pm so I don’t make this same mistake in the future and end up drinking two beers before the music even starts.

Once the music started (at 9:15) I was not extremely impressed. Phoenix Rising play the type of radio friendly hard rock popularized by Nickelback and copied by every other band formed after 2007. With stereotypical songs like “Let Go,” “Falling Down,” the pseudo-Christian “Before You Now” and a cover of 10 Years’ “Wasteland” I was bored to tears. They had good energy and were a tight unit; I just hate the prepackaged type of music they play. The ending of their set took a darker turn and featured songs that may not have immediately caused me to change the radio station, but by this time my friend Patrick and I were sitting on the second floor in full on Statler and Waldorf of “the Muppets” mode, cracking jokes about how “they’re not half bad.” “They’re not half good either.” “Hahahaha.” I’m not sure if they’re the band to thank for the influx of females at the bar that night. Usually that place is packed with more sausage than a pig-fucker convention, but tonight there were quite a few ladies. It’s a shame that I’m horribly awkward with the fairer sex and have no charm whatsoever, I may have gotten laid and would have been forced to write a completely different blog.

This Moment of Grief would make a good radio-friendly band if it weren’t for the thrash metal tendencies and guttural hollers of Chris Machamer. I suppose this explains why I actually enjoy their music. I was a little worried about seeing them twice so close together, when you check out a band every two weeks they tend to get stale pretty fast. But the awesome stage led to a much different show than they did at the Vortex complete with a great backflip by Machamer that didn’t have the greatest landing. It was nice to see him doing his signature dancing again, even if it was more “Rocky” than the usual “Waiting for Guffman.” I was a little disappointed to see Matt Howard simply wearing his Breaking Benjamin t-shirt with no long sleeves underneath. This did provide us with great seats when he treated us to a gun show, but makes his attire look more appropriate to the situation and less like a sweater vest.

I now need to take a moment to call out a certain shitty security guard. After shoving a female into Patrick, who began to fume with anger, said security man (who was wearing a bathrobe and crown of thorns to portray Jesus) informed my pal that he needed to calm down or would be escorted out of the venue. He even went so far as to hold his hand up and give the old “You’re up here right now, and I need you to be down here.” I understand that being a security guard probably isn’t the easiest job in the world and you probably deal with a lot of assholes, but that’s no reason to be a condescending asshole yourself. It’s usually a good idea to treat people with respect and not be any more of a prick than is absolutely necessary, but these are just my thoughts.

Sykosis was a bit of a surprise. I always have low expectations my first time seeing a band I’ve never heard of. I should go in with more of an open mind, but when after you’ve heard as much crap as I have you get a little jaded. Sykosis play the same type of alt-metal popularized by Mushroomhead but don’t sound like they’ve jumped on the band wagon to find a pre-built crowd. While hey sport quite a few cliché characteristics (Carhart coveralls, Ed Gein and Hannibal Lector masks) I was willing to overlook it all because of the raw ferocity of their sound. I’ve always loved the style they play and they played it well. The singer with the dreadlocks is one of the only people I’ve seen head banging in recent years, which I guess stands to reason since short hair is now more stylish. It’s always great when a band experiments when an older style of music and makes it their own, pushing it further from its roots and into new territory

One of the reasons I wasn’t expecting much from Sykosis (aside from the phonetically spelled name that bugs the shit out of me for no apparent reason) was that they’re on tour with Mettal Maffia, and I’m not a fan of rap-metal. But MM have done something quite interesting with their sound since the last time I saw them. They don’t really come off as a rap-metal band so much as they seem to be three rappers with a metal backing band instead of a DJ. It’s a neat dynamic that seems to work for them. I could see them performing in clubs instead of metal bars, but then again I’ve never been to one of those clubs. I’m not even sure what they play in there. It was a pleasant surprise to somewhat enjoy them. I hate having to write negative things about friends’ bands. It’s easy to talk shit about some preppy guy you’ve never seen before, but when it’s someone you’ve know more than a decade it gets hairy.

It was a good show overall. I was disappointed that I didn’t see the advertised “Carriage House Marauders” who were supposed to be performing Jackass style stunt but you can’t have it all. Maybe that was just power-tripping Jesus and Gumby. I can’t complain about the music (much) and the good outweighed the bad. I’m just thinking it may be time to invest in an e-cigarette; I didn’t have so much of a hangover from the booze as the feeling that my lungs were stuffed with cotton when I woke up the next morning.


Bob on Blonde and Most Beautiful Losers at Buzzbin Shop, Apr. 1

Sunday April 1, 2012

Jake Simmons & the Little Ghosts, Bob on Blonde and The Most Beautiful Losers

Buzzbin Art and Music Shop. Canton, OH


I finally made it to the Buzzbin Store to check out the new renovations. I’ve been meaning to stop in again since I heard they expanded around the New Year but this is the first opportunity I’ve had. It wasn’t quite what I expected, but I can’t say I was disappointed. When I heard they were adding, I had visions of a giant stage with a new light show in some giant warehouse down a secret tunnel through a trapdoor in the back. Really, they just doubled the size of the store. They’re still using the “Buzzbin Super Stage” but now all of the stacks of records are spread out so there’s a much more open atmosphere and room for plenty more people.

I can’t really say anything bad about seeing a show at the Buzzbin Shop. Admission is free, which is always a plus, and it’s BYOB, which saves me quite a lot of money. If you figure that a six pack costs about $7 at the gas station and about $15 bucks at a bar you save at least $8, not counting the tip. The other cool thing about seeing a show there is that it’s A Record Store! Record stores have all of the cool indie credibility of coffee shops without all of the pretension. The thing I hate most about coffeehouses is words like “mocha chino” and “macchiato.” Say that aloud to yourself, “macchiato”, don’t you sound like an asshole? I find it nice to enjoy my Miller Lite and rock ‘n’ roll without being judged. If you’re reading this you can tell that I like to be the one doing the judging.

Not that I have anything bad to say about any of the bands that performed. Jake Simmons and the Little Ghosts put on one helluva good rock show. What surprised me about their sound was that I couldn’t figure out what prefix I should add. I don’t know if they’re alt-, nu-, punk or pseudo-, I was just enjoying some good music that put me in mind of what the Beatles would be doing today if half of them weren’t dead (and they hadn’t broken up 42 years ago). I don’t want to say they were nostalgic, but they were playing classic rock with a contemporary attitude. I’m sure there are plenty of 90s indie bands that JS &TLG could be compared to, but I don’t listen to a lot of that stuff so I was just happy to enjoy the jangly, open guitar chords and driving bass. Plus there were two telecasters being played by the band and as a tele man myself, I can’t help but feel some sort of strange kinship with the guys.

Bob on Bonde picked up where JS &TLG left off, which disappointed me a little. I was really digging the sound coming from the single guitarists spaceship control-like pedal board plugged into two guitar amps and a bass amp, but their take on open chord garage rock didn’t enthuse me as much. I kept finding it strange that I should like everything about the band aside from their songs when they kicked things up a notch. I can’t say that I dig their ballads, but when Bob on Blonde started rocking the feedback laced stoner rock I was right on board. I couldn’t help but cheer when I realize the guitar was being down tuned to Drop D. Heavy riffing is definitely more their style. The fact that the Buzzbin Store only has mics for vocals (just like my hated coffee shops) lends to a more raw feeling when hearing the music. It’s not coming through a processed PA but rather from the instruments straight to my ears. The best part of BoB was the interplay between the guitar and drums at the conclusion. By interplay, I don’t mean that they synced up real nice and had a great jam, but that Bob hopped up on the drum kit and his drummer used a stick across the fret board to silence the guitar or evoke more dirty noise. It was definitely one of the coolest finales I’ve seen.

And what can I say about the Most Beautiful Losers? I’m not really sure, I was drunk. I’m not sure what it says about Canton that they’re our biggest band. Sure, they’re a great band with great tunes. But they’re also a drinking band that inspires drinking in their audience. I was going to take off before their set was through because my six pack ran out, but Buzzbin Mike saved my day by handing me a Genesee (Which I appreciated but still looked at warily). The greatest thing about the Losers is that every time I see them they always sound fresh. This could be because I only ever see them every few months, or because they always have a different lineup. Sunday saw a completely different band than I saw last time, but still had me singing and drinking along to the same great songs. Every city should have a band like the Most Beautiful Losers. But I’m not sure if every city can drink enough to keep up with Canton.

I can’t say that I didn’t get my money worth, the show was free. My only complaint is that the show was on a Sunday night, and Monday mornings are hard enough even without a hangover.