In the Crowd: Sunburned Hand of the Man
Sunburned Hand of the Man/Magik Markers/Caustic Solution
About a year and a half ago Sunburned hand of the Man stormed Buffalo with Six Organs of Admittance and Pengo in tow. It was like an acid test, a biker rally, and a baptism all mixed together. A hell of a night which ended many drunken hours after the last note was played with bruises and fires. How do you top an evening like that? Bring the Magik Markers this time.
The priceless jewel of the Buffalo music scene (the good, real, Buffalo music scene), Soundlab, was again under-attended for the opening night of this huge tour. With school out of session for another week or two, there was a noticeable lack of boho girls and second year music major dudes who talk more than the ladies. I didn't miss them but I bet their respective 7 dollars and drinks were sorely missed. Come on Buffalo! When are you gonna get past your love of Canadian flavoured, white-boy blues, classic rock cover band bullshit? Anyway, showing that there is still some hope for a new band worth hearing from Buffalo, Caustic Solution got things moving. After melting the house early on last month at the golden Tonight, Let's All Make Love in Buffalo fest, Caustic Solution kept up the pace and again tried to drive out any non-believers from the get-go. They have fleshed out their three-man guitar noise assault with some well-placed samples, loops and melodic fills. They shook the rafters and swayed us with some low rumbling delicate moments. They knew just when to bring it all home, letting all the gear shake and shimmy for a few moments before shutting the mother down. Another great set. These guys ooze potential.
The merch table over-flowed with Sunburned stuff. Four new tour cd-r's, a new double LP on Eclipse (unfortunately the new one on Spirit of Orr was delayed), a new cassette, some tee's and about a dozen or so old releases. Magik Markers unleashed new cd-r's and a coloring book. No copies of the purportedly out of print Ecstatic Peace LP. Sucka's, all of you who missed out. No Caustic Solution gear yet. Soon maybe? Hopefully.
So, the Magik Markers played finest set of pure fuck that I've seen in a long time. I was speechless. They made my year in what was probably less than 30 minutes, I wasn't checking the time. And this wasn't some bullshit 17 minute Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice set. Even if this set really was only 17 minutes (like the paltry "artistic" decadent wank-off that WWVV pulled here in Buffalo a few weeks back) it was up there with the best 17 minutes of music around. Plus, they're not the fucking headliner. Anyway, Elisa Ambrogio beams mad beauty rawk. I've seen some clips online and I've got the LP and some cd-r's but nothing really prepared me for seeing them in person. They were a hurricane and I really didn't want it to ever end. Drummer Pete Nolan carried the whole tidal wave all the way through. He and Leah Quimby are both quite good but Ambrogio really does own the stage and everyone's rapt attention. Whether she knows any bullshit Guitar Player magazine licks or not the sounds she pulled out of that guitar were undeniably astounding. I arrived agog and was left agape. The set was pure rampage. I'd drive many a mile to see something like that again.
After a quick break, a Red Stripe and finally getting my gaping yap to stay more or less closed Sunburned Hand of the Man ambled onto the stage. Their never-ending line-up flux left them a few members less than the gig here last year. No worry though. The set began with Brother John Moloney kneeling over an organ (was that an organ? I can't remember) and testifying to the crowd as the rest of the band worked up a gurgling, eventual funk. Soon enough he made his way to the drums and the set made its way towards an all out guitar jam session. It was basically a rock line-up, 2-3 guitars, bass, some effects and drums but they managed to infect that "classic"-type set-up with some fury. And the few moments where I had a fear that the whole thing might slip into a noodle session were alleviated by the band throwing some more coal on the engine and heading straight for oblivion. Sunburned have definitely crossed streams with some of the forebears of kraut and psych rock. The whole rock-beast rambled on with the bass player taking lead and singing some more of that drugged-out witch music that we all came to hear.
For those of you not especially familiar with Sunburned Hand of the Man, you'll have to excuse the lack of song titles or album references here. As far as I know, the majority of their sets are pretty much composed on the spot. Improvised. Even if the music performed tonight were previously arranged/recorded they're not on any of the 7 or 8 Sunburned Hand releases I have. Counting all the new stuff, I'm still probably ten or so short. Likely more. I go to see what they'll pull out of their hats or asses each time. And that's why I'll pick up disc after disc of theirs. It's not all gold but the shit that hits, sticks. I'll sit through a few dragging minutes, or even half a set in order to get to that moment of quizzical, dizzying, mania which Sunburned Hand of the Man can deliver on their best days.
This tour is monumental in its spazz-out madness and you'd be doing yourself a favor to check it out if it comes even remotely near your town. Whether you can make it out or not, check www.ecstaticpeace.com for a tour journal with tons of rad video footage including drinking and driving, hair cuts and some straight-up revolution music.
- Adam Richards | 2005-09-13
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