In the Crowd: Cave In/Doomriders
Cave In / Doomriders
Heading out to this show made me realize it had been entirely too long since I had last treated myself to some good live music. Maybe my New Years resolution should be to "force" my musical palate to be exposed to at least one good show a month. Granted, living in St. Louis, things that can be considered "good shows" are sometimes scarce. Many shows I go to are just for decent local bands; lots of touring bands just don't seem to think this is a good destination- Columbia, MO is a big college town, so they get most of the independent music pit stops (even though we've got several huge universities- I don't get it). Regardless, upon reflecting back on the evening in question, I've decided that were I to dole out to myself only one live show for this wintry season, this one would leave my sonic taste buds thoroughly satiated.
I arrived just as Lorene Drive was finishing up what would be their last two songs, which is why I don't really feel I can include them in the title line for this show article. I haven't heard their latest record, but from what I heard live they'd do well thrusted upon fans of Jawbox, today's more technical emo, and possibly early Cave In. Lots of extremely tight rhythmic choppiness, solid clean vocals, and the occasional blast of technical hardcore-ishness. They sounded very good, and made me sorry I showed up a bit late.
Having never heard Doomriders before seeing them live this night, they most definitely lived up to the hype Jake's review of Black Thunder had built in my head. This is definitely a band you could just go see live without having heard a note of their material and be totally engrossed in their performance. Sure, I'd rather have known the tunes beforehand (sort of like when I saw Cult of Luna before hearing Salvation- knowing that record would've made the show more enjoyable) - had I been familiar with the songs, I may have been right next to that tall guy with the frizzy hair snapping his neck around like a busted Dee Snider bobblehead. But absolutely none of their set was lost on me. Pure, awesome rock with guts. Many bands try to pull this material off, but this is the first time in eons I've heard anyone actually do it with conviction, fire, and good riffs. From their opener Black Thunder to the closer The Long Walk, they were full on. Ride or Die and The Chase were major highlights for me: even with this being the first time I had heard those riffs, they instantly stuck, and to me that's really the mark of a great song/record.
Nate kept yelling "STL!" after almost every song, and while it sounded kind of dumb or insincere the first time, it was totally believable and completely hilarious the 50th time. His energy didn't wane one bit in that regard. The STL "PARTY VIBE" (another of Nate's favorite lines) was pretty nil except the two guys raucously headbanging up front (see aforementioned frizzy haired dood), but that still didn't kill the rock these guys were laying out. Total, there were probably about 50 or so people present, but from the crowd reaction you'd have thought there were 7 (maybe this is why bands skip this town?). The dual guitar harmonies were dead on, the drumming superb (tight, yet with a loose groove pocket), that rumbling bass slayed, and Nate's and Jebb's vocals just killed. Driving home, while listening to the local easy listening station that was playing all Christmas music (I needed a change), I couldn't help but think that if I were to have a band touring in December, I would find it impossible to resist throwing a Christmas tune into the setlist. That led me to think: "If the Doomriders were to do a Christmas song, what would it be?" The best one I could come up with was Up on the Rooftop, done with a sort of mid-paced, galloping, chuggachugga feel. Obviously, there should be a nice doomy breakdown in the middle with twin guitar harmonies and all, but the verses about little Bill getting a hammer and tacks and a whip that cracks is total Doomriders territory.
I hadn't really seen Cave In since our fated date under the Lollapalooza tent that resulted in this (and no, that's neither a picture of a 3-headed baby nor a recipe for flaming Glogg). Plenty of changes had happened for them since that time. A new record had been released, and even more new material was afoot in the form of a 2-song demo cassette single made especially for the tour. Not to mention facial hair all around. I guess majors can be sticklers for clean-shaven pusses (and no, that's not what I mean- geez, get your mind out of the gutter).
In case you weren't aware, John Robert Connors, who usually plays drums for Cave In, is currently located in Germany and the guys have now enlisted Ben Koller of Converge (who interestingly enough has his own updated entry in Wikipedia) to fill out those duties. From his first warmups, I noticed Ben's extremely tight playing ability: I haven't gotten to see Converge live yet- the closest I came was when they played Chicago's Fireside Bowl with Cave In a few years back (I decided I didn't like people enough to brave the massive crowd). Ben showed great control and fluidity in his playing, effortlessly throwing down all types of complicated rhythmic patterns perfectly.
Cave In's set was pretty well varied, including 4 tunes from Perfect Pitch Black (The World Is In Your Way, Off to Ruin, Trepanning, and the largely instrumental Ataraxia), 3 tunes from Jupiter (Jupiter, Innuendo and Out the Other, and Big Riff), the two new songs off the cassingle (Shapeshifter and Dead Already), Dark Driving from Tides of Tomorrow, and the classic monstrosity Juggernaut. I've read other accounts of shows from this tour that included Antenna material and fewer Jupiter songs, but I was appreciative of this setlist- it was the first time I'd heard Innuendo live, which was super cool. The one thing I noticed - or possibly misheard, as I was standing close to the stage and not near the soundbooth to get a good overall perception of the mix - was that in the Jupiter material, it seemed like Ben's drumming used a tad more force than finesse. Crescendos and expressive moments seemed a little less emphasized than expected. As I said, it could have been that I was not hearing the mix well enough being up close; considering how technically tight he was, it may very well have been a misconception, but it might be something to listen for if you make it to one of these shows yourself. As quickly as he's likely needed to pick up the Cave In material and still balance that on top of another band (Converge, no less!), it could be that some material's still working its way into his brain. He definitely sounded most comfortable with the two new songs on the cassingle, which are both pretty energized. Be sure to pick up one of those, they're very limited and would make a nice Christmas gift for cousin Sven.
Having heard several of the tunes from Perfect Pitch Black in various internet locations (live recordings, demos), I never really quite got it: meaning I never quite understood where they were going with the material, what territory they were trying to move into. It seemed sort of one-dimensional compared to things from Jupiter and Tides of Tomorrow, more roots rock. I actually didn't really like it so much. But seeing the pairing of this show, with Doomriders, it finally clicked for me: the twin guitar attack, with more beefy slabs of rock-oriented riffage - especially when paired with the new faster, almost punk-rooted tunes - seemed right at home when you put them alongside the Doomriders' set. The Goatsnake influence (referring to Cave In's input into a couple songs on Goatsnake's Trampled Underfoot ep, and Pete Stahl's presence during their Antenna tour schedule- seeing him sing Youth Overrided was awesome, btw) made much more sense. Even as the show progressed, I found myself digging the newer tunes more and more. Picking up the Pitch Black record (which I actually didn't hear in its entirety until after the show) helped a lot too. A couple tunes I on that record (Paranormal and Tension in the Ranks) filled out what I seemed to feel was missing from some of the other new material. Ultimately, the combination of all the new tunes together has fully refueled my interest in the band's future, whatever it holds. So if you've at all had a similar twinge of "huh?" related to the direction of this latest Cave In material, you'd do yourself a disservice missing out on this show. It could help throw it all into perspective just as it did for me. Plus, you'll miss out on the awesome PARTY VIBE Doomriders throw down, which would make Cousin Sven mad.
A small aside on the Cave In cassingle:
Halfway through their set, Stephen decided it had been a bad idea to wear a sweater, and thusly stated so. He also mentioned the sweater was almost as bad an idea as it was to release a limited 2-song cassette single recorded on a 4-track. I'll pray he was being facetious, because I absolutely love when bands do stuff like that. It makes them seem more real, more human and not unwilling to put themselves out there in anything less than a recording dressed up in a half million dollar production budget. If everything every band released was done was a pristine-sounding , over-the-top budgeted studio recording, the world would never see the raw heart that bands put into their music. I think giving the fans a glimpse into the raw, realistic, and imperfect sonic aspect of the band is vital to making a better connection to the individual listener. It gives them a glimpse at a small level of what it is like to be part of a circle of friends trading tapes, and yes, even hearkens back to an era before every schmuck with a $100 PC was downloading every record 2 months before it came out; when band members would trade tapes . Maybe I sound a little utopian on this; the advance of the internet has indeed done wonders for independent music, but I also feel it's also robbed us of some of the excitement new music used to hold. I honestly believe bands of credible standing putting out a little one-off demo with vibrance and life like this tape can do wonders for their charisma as far as fans are concerned. I think it does a lot to further the whole excitement of music: it's so much cooler to have in your little grimy hands that 2-song cassette rather than to just go to their page and download it. Eh, maybe I should save this for an editorial. Anyway, I greatly applaud their use of the 2-song cassette, and wish it would catch on. If nothing else, just as a throwback to a kinder, gentler, more charismatic and personal independent music scene.
- Eric Burnley | 2005-12-21
|OTHER ARTICLES BY ERIC BURNLEY|
|OTHER IN THE CROWD ARTICLES|