Thursday, December 30
Review by Todd Hamm
Review by Todd Hamm
The good news is that the Funhouse is still a creepy carnival-themed bar (thank God) with a linoleum tile floor that looks like it was ripped from somebody's grandma's kitchen. The bad news is that an awesome night of metal met a slow, drum-circle death Thursday night as it drug on far longer than it should have.
Not to take (too much) away from Fela's Kooties, whose fans probably think exactly the opposite happened: Their nine-person jam session was packed with more-than-proficient musicians, and the groove appeared to run strongly through their songs. The hangup was that for some reason the person who booked the show put them onstage at a grimy hard-rock venue after three aggressive punk/metal bands had ripped it up something fierce, and if there were expertly placed conga pats and trombone fills, the crowd was too distortion-deaf to realize it.
Clam Hamr was in top form at the beginning of the night, playing an extended set that showed off some new songs from their upcoming debut album, Womb Service. They have definite NoFx leanings at times and bulky metal breakdowns at others, which seems like a discrepancy between old and new material. The guitar solos were epic, and they stuck to their comic strengths with intermittent "words from their sponsor" Big Bear Malt Liquor and the presentation of their new band shirts, which turned out to be Goodwill-bought HIM and The Used shirts with CLAM HAMR stenciled across the other band's logo.
Darq Matter was tough to get a complete grasp of, as the sound was not set up for something quite so in-depth, but they sounded a bit like One Day as a Lion. DJ Chico Che played hype-man, firing sharp laptop effects over the live drums, while DM's bassist/frontman rapped and yelled, though the sound arrangement made it difficult to tell about what.
Vera Solaris' technical shoegaze metal was amazing. Guitarist/vocalist Joshua Hashman's pedal arrangement was massive, and he worked it constantly. The other half of the duo, drummer Callum Dickson, pounded an unorthodox drum set, with cymbals flopped upside down and sideways. A lighter moment--and delay--came when Hashman ordered a woman in the crowd to turn up the volume on the monitors as the soundman had disappeared, but then it was right back to exploratory prog--which made a great case for their upcoming spring release as the most anticipated local metal album on the horizon.
Overheard from the crowd: "Sure, they're all extremely talented musicians, but what's the point when it only makes for boring-ass generic hippy music." --People leaving during Fela's Kooties set.
Overheard from the stage: "Seriously, did the soundman just leave?" Hashman trying to rebalance the sound levels onstage while the venue's sound tech had left his post vacant.