Goggles Optional IV


276910_593277124021035_544672645_nGoggles Optional IV

Blight vs. Blight, Almost All In Good Fun, Syringe

February 23, 2013

The Auricle – Canton, OH

 

I’d definitely have to say that Goggles Optional IV was a success. In spite of several setbacks and unexpected problems that popped up at the last minute (is there any other time problems pop up) everyone had a lot of fun and it was an all around good time.

This was my first time at the Auricle in Canton since they’ve had a liquor license. I did stop in to see Oh No! The Afterlife quite a while ago but that was when I was still drinking so I watched their set then headed to Gatsby’s. The place has changed, but it’s still an awesome place. Located in the basement of an office building, the brick walls and soft lighting make it seem like the kinda place more suited for jazz artists and open mics, but they do put on some awesome shows with national and local acts. The best thing is that because it shares a restroom with the offices upstairs they are clean and have doors on the stalls. There is a strange newfangled “waterless” urinal which I found a bit odd, but other than that my biggest problem with the restrooms was that the last person didn’t change the toilet paper roll, which is a nice problem to have. I’d say the Auricle is definitely the best and hippest venue in Canton.

Goggle Optional didn’t bring out any emo or garage rockers and instead opted for as much industrial as they could get. Blight vs. Blight started the show off with his hardcore techno. I’m not used to seeing acts that are just one person twiddling knobs on a mixer and playing with a keyboard, and usually hate them when I do, but Blight manages to keep things 2013-02-23_20-26-12_391 - Copyinteresting with his pulsing beats and fake blood that he covers himself in during performance. I enjoyed the dark techno with lyrics I was hearing and he must have read my mind because about the time I was starting to think “all these songs sound the same” he switched it up a little bit and went for a poppier, late 80’s, Pretty Hate Machine-ish sound that held my attention for the rest of his set. My chief complaint with Blight vs. Blight is that I can’t dance very well and I didn’t have any ecstasy or meth. I would love to see him as the opening act for a rave.

Almost All In Good Fun managed to impress me and leave me wanting more yet again. After a few jokes from the bongo player (is he a bongo-er or a bongoist?) they dove headlong into their strange Nirvana meets Hee Haw brand of Alternative that is both refreshing and just plain weird. It’s great to see a band doing something unique and therefor unsafe. They don’t play a radio friendly rock style but it’s music that I’d love to 2013-02-23_21-38-40_976 - Copyhear more of on the radio. My biggest complaint with them is that their set was cut short. They handed a guitar to Dr. Eichman from Exostra and headed to do a costume change. When they returned in drag their set was over. While I’d definitely would have liked to hear the song they were set to perform I do understand the Auricle’s desire to keep the ball rolling and the show moving and refuse to pick a side in any feud that may erupt. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to see All In Good Fun again soon and also enjoy another show at the Auricle.

Syringe played a great set. They introduced several new songs to their repertoire and blasted through a few old ones. While some of the guitar parts were fudged, the stage antics (or general noise of other instruments) managed to cover it up. One of the problems with the pseudo-performance art is that once the Styrofoam planks and confetti come out, the show is more about playing Frisbee than about the music. Hopefully in the future this occurrence will be averted, but I still have to say that it is a lot of fun smashing stuff over peoples heads.2013-02-23_22-32-16_357

Overall I feel there were three solid sets performed by three great local bands and I’m hoping that I’ll cross paths with all of them in the future. It was great to see members from several other local groups in the audience. The Inhumanity, Passing Time, Exostra and Two Dead Roses all stopped in to support the local scene. It’s nice to see bands coming out to shows just for the love of music and not simply the need to self promote.

 

Special thanks goes out to Dream the Hero and everyone involved with the “Taste The Scene: Forgive Charlie Sheen” event that I covered last week. I managed to receive over 200 views of my blog in three days thanks to the promotion and buzz I received from all the great bands on the bill. I think that’s more people than were at the event. Thanks again!

 

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Taste The Scene: Forgive Charlie Sheen


373099_489128321128979_1955329877_nTaste the Scene: Forgive Charlie Sheen

Almost All In Good Fun, Deceit, Flames Burn Black, Dream the Hero, The Knickers, Lost Sylence

Feb. 16, 2013

Chuck’s Steakhouse – Akron, OH

This was my first visit to Chuck’s Steakhouse and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. The biggest expectation in my mind was the opening scene of the 2001 cult classic “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” where the transsexual performs “Tear Me Down” in the middle of a Bilgewater Inn seafood restaurant. Chuck’s is a little more used to live music and did have a proper stage and an area cleared out in front of it. But due to bad weather we arrived at with only enough time to catch the last two songs of Almost All in Good Fun’s set. We walked in as they were tearing through a rocking cover of Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe.” They then closed their performance with an experimental tune featuring a rocking bass line and minimalist tribal beat. I was sorry to only catch the last seven minutes of their show but I am pumped to catch them Saturday at Goggles Optional IV at the Auricle in Canton.

Deceit made a return to the stage (well, they did that last week, but I didn’t catch that show) and are still as heavy and intense as ever. The drumming of Josh Fields seems to propel them to a more ferocious territory than I remember, or perhaps that’s bassist Tyler Hill’s guttural backup vocals. They also turned pop into metal with Alex Clare’s “Too Close.” I’m happy to see Deceit’s return and while I enjoyed the old songs they played I’m eager to hear what new stuff they come up with.

I wasn’t expecting much from Flames Burn Black, which may explain why I was so blown 2013-02-16_21-25-07_745away by them. Most bands with chick singers rely on the front-woman gimmick too much to be taken seriously or fall into a routine of laziness and mediocrity, thinking that a cheap gimmick makes them special. From their first song (an updated version of Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health”) it was apparent that Flames wasn’t one of these bands. I wasn’t expecting any other group to be as heavy as Deceit but Flames managed to tip the scales more and stress out the stage a bit more. While their originals put me in mind of Otep, not just because of the female roaring but also for the oddly dissonant guitar lines and thumping bass lines. The covers turned into great crowd pleasers. I loved their versions of “Hellyeah” and “Bloodlust.” It’s even more surprising that a female voice was able to carry these songs.

During the beginning of Flames Burn Blacks set I had to visit the Steakhouse’s facilities and I can now tell you that Chuck’s get’s the award for “Worst Venue Bathroom for a person with a genetic predisposition to Irritable Bowel Syndrome in Northeast Ohio.” I’ve come to expect that concert hall bathrooms wont have doors on the stalls, but the crapper being before the urinal instead of at the back was nearly too much. And why do places always put so much ice in the urinals? Why not just fix the plumbing?

Dream the Hero is the same band they were the last time I saw them in November. I was hoping that the great time I was having up to this point would put me in a mood to enjoy them more, but I’m still not digging their sound. They’re talented musicians, great performers and from what I can tell – really nice guys. Sadly, I can’t bring myself to enjoy screamo. While they do an interesting cover of Skid Row’s “18 and Life” it doesn’t differ enough from the original to make me enjoy it and the row of girl in front of the stage solidifies their place as the Bon Jovi or our local scene. If you’re looking for some action they’re definitely the band to see as they’re slightly easier to stomach than New Wave Nation. With all the girls at Chuck’s on Saturday night I was glad my old lady had decided to stay home. If only I had some game Patrick would have been driving home by himself.

I noticed something odd as The Knickers were setting up in that the entire area in front of the stage cleared out. Chuck’s has an interesting architectural design in that it is essentially two rooms. While they are connected by many windows and doors, the bar and venue appear at once to be totally connected and worlds apart. The Knickers had the best sound check in that everyone was in the bar getting a beer while they were setting up.

We broke the Disney Channel's PA system during our audition.

We broke the Disney Channel’s PA system during our audition.

That changed quickly when they started to play. This marks the third time I’ve seen the Knickers in the past year and they keep getting better. The songs and musicianship have always been top notch, but now they’re really starting to grow as performers and they’re getting comfortable on the stage. It’s refreshing to see thrash metal being played by youngsters even if I’m slightly jealous of their ability. A casual listen informs you that they didn’t learn to play from “Guitar Hero.” They may still be in their teens but they rock just as hard as any other band of the night. And the only thing missing from their cover of “Ace of Spades” is a few Cocoa Puffs glued to singer/guitarist Mike Legan’s face.

Due to the snow still falling outside we left after three songs of Lost Sylence. I was hoping to catch their whole set but the roads were looking pretty bad. Their sound was brutal and crushing but with the exception of Matt Howard’s clean backup vocals the music sounded very formulaic and prepackaged. We’ve all heard heavy metal bands like Lamb of God and Hatebreed before, the trick to being noticed is to develop a unique sound. Maybe I just didn’t hear enough of them and I’ll be able to get a better grasp after seeing a full set. As we made it to the freeway and saw how cleared it was I was wondering if the singer who was hopping all over the place and running around the venue ever slipped and fell on his face. That would have been a sight to see.

Next week will see me performing with Syringe at Goggle Optional IV. Tickets are still available.

Industrial Solstice


276995_389960291087632_217355898_nIndustrial Solstice

James Noir, Ugly Distance, Two Dead Roses, The Inhumanity

February 09, 2013

Checkers N Trophies Kent, OH

I’m torn about whether or not I should write a review about the Industrial Solstice I attended Saturday with a few friends. On the one hand I enjoy doing this, it’s good practice, increases my online presence and helps to build a resume. On the other the timeliness aspect is quickly fluttering away and my mother always told me: if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.

Well, I’ll just write the mean things.

Checkers N Trophies is a neat little bar nestled in a residential area off the beaten path in Kent. We thought we were lost for a while as the only other buildings in the area were filled with families that I’m sure were quite annoyed by the end of the night. The best thing about the place is that it has a maximum capacity of 80 so bands with a small draw can feel really cool by packing thirty people into the place and making it look packed.

The show started with James Noir who went on stage an exasperatingly long time after the 8 pm advertised start. I usually don’t mind waiting around a bit, it’s par for the course. We even got there at about 8:30 just because we were expecting this. But when there was still no music for over an hour I began to get a bit irritable. It could be my new found sobriety and the fact that beer was calling to me and I had no live entertainment to take my mind off of it, but it seemed like it took forever for that show to start.

Noir advertised himself as “industrial music and performance art” so I was quite interested to see his show. And sure enough he does make a whole-hearted attempt at performance art, but he falls a bit short from achieving any lasting impact. His music is decently produced, but plays through his Mac Book while he sings through a mask which muffles his voice to the point of being unintelligible. All of this would have been maddening enough even if his computer hadn’t crashed several times during his show. His performance included a plastic statue of Jesus, some spray paint, an ax, a TV and a giant headless teddy bear. While I did find myself slightly offended by his spray painting Jesus in the face, (a sign that I’m a decent christian and he was doing a decent job) nothing else managed to amuse me much. He would have had a better impact if the Jesus had been a little more lifelike and responsive to his ax. An ax that bounces off what it’s meant to destroy doesn’t have much effect either literally or figuratively. It’s always nice to see someone smash a TV, but the message “Kill Your Television” has been used to death. I’m not sure if his “Everything is Dust” slogan and ambiguously anti-consumerism videos were meant to be a critique of the shallowness of our culture, but he would have made the statement louder if he had used a cheaper computer and not worn the emo uniform of skintight jeans and baggy t shirt.

Ugly Distance did their job of entertaining me and were the only band of the night to put a smile on my face. It was nice to see a group (though there were only two of them) where every party played an instrument. While all four acts used a backing track, Ugly Distance was the only one without a guy just singing instead of singing and playing. When it comes to live music, I’m of the mindset that the more live the music is the better. A guy holding a mic and not playing an instrument is a waste. To add to that, the other thing that kept me amused was their use of covers. Even the best original band can bore me if I’ve never heard their tunes before so a smart band knows its a good idea to throw in some songs an audience has already heard. Their use of Gravity Kills and Nine Inch Nails was both bold and appropriate for the evening. While they wouldn’t have been the songs I’d have done, I can only commend them on their good taste.

Two Dead Roses is a solid industrial metal band and had a great sound, some rocking tunes and some killer riffs. The thing that was bad about them is that it’s just sad to see two guys in their early thirties rocking out on a small stage to a backing track. You’d figure that by the time you reach that age you could find a drummer and a bass player. Of course I’m starting to think that industrial music is less about transgressive and provocative themes than it is about guys that just can’t seem to get a full band together and/or have extreme megalomaniacal tendencies. I love the stuff, but really there are very few industrial acts that go into the studio and out on tour as full live bands. I’m sure I would have enjoyed a CD of Two Dead Roses, but as a live act I was not immensely impressed with them. And I’m pretty sure I saw the guitar player in a Mighty Mighty Bosstones video once.

The Inhumanity was a bit of a letdown. They built themselves up and never really

The Inhumanity in action?

The Inhumanity in action?

delivered. There was a cool instrument being played. In lieu of a bass guitar one man played what he termed the “Stormbringer.” a metal pipe fitted with a bass guitar string and having a Jacobs Ladder (high voltage traveling arc) on top. While this was cool it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the Rock Band drumming and the lack of any hooks or decipherable lyrics. The pivot of their performance involved an old soundboard and an aluminum baseball bat which failed to illicit as much amusement as Noir’s earlier altercation with the television. I could have probably enjoyed their New Wave electronic sound a little more if there hadn’t been so much reverb on the mic that the lyrics were completely indecipherable. I try to keep an open mind and though my tastes tend to steer more toward NIN and Ministry I would have been willing to give them a chance.

Thankfully the night did eventually end and we escaped without being axed, clubbed or blown up. Next week I plan on attending the Taste The Scene event at Chuck’s Steakhouse so if any of the members of these bands would like to kick my ass you’ll know where to find me. I hope you’ll see my observations as constructive criticism and I wish you all the best.