Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Ripple Field Trip - Vista Chino @ The Bowery Ballroom: 9/26/2013

No matter what I do, I never get to a show on time.

This was my first night out in a long, long time where I wasn’t playing a gig, had to worry about driving home or getting up at the crack to attend to my 9 month old son, Hank. For such an occasion, I called upon my buddy Gabe to be my wingman. Gabe is a rock-n-roller from Queens; part Ramones, more like Anthrax meets the Hells Angels. Whatever he may lack in stature, he makes up for it with a balls out obnoxious demeanor that can only be found in a true New Yorker, more specifically, Queens. We always have a good time rumbling around the LES together. He is also a bona-fide gearhead and outstanding guitar player. He lives and breathes music and is in a killer NYC RnR band called Ten Ton Mojo (which is definitely worth your time to check out). All I had to say was “Kyuss” and “big joint” and he was in! Seems easy enough, but for whatever reason, it’s difficult to find people in the NYC “metal scene” who have even heard of Kyuss, much less dig on them. We’ll leave that for another discussion.

Anyway, it was because of that big joint and the necessary pre-game rituals that we showed up late to the Bowery Ballroom to checkout Vista Chino, Black Pussy & Kings Destroy. It has become a bit of an embarrassment for me that I’ve never seen Kings Destroy live... I’ve been playing in and around NYC for over 15 years and here’s a band from Brooklyn, (a great band!) right on my doorstep, playing slow as molasses heavy shit and I’ve never seen them play! My embarrassment continues... my apologies to those dudes for missing their set.

By the time we rolled into the Ballroom, Black Pussy was taking the stage with a slow, trippy drone that announced their intentions. Standing in front of a massive collection of Sunn O))) amps and cabinets that symmetrically frame the band, they look and sound as if they came out of some black hole portal from 1973. Part Hawkwind, part T-Rex; the attention to every detail on stage is readily apparent, right down to the polyester shirts, beat up bell bottoms and vintage gear.  I’ve grown to like Black Pussy over the last month or so. I think “On Blonde” is a good record, but it was “Galaxies” that really caught my attention. Galaxies is a 22 minute song that comes off the split they did with “Biblical Proof of UFO’s”. With just one riff, some great melodies and a whole lot of trippiness, it has become one of my favorite songs as of late. When I heard the faint beginnings of that riff coming out of the initial flurry of noise, I knew we were in for something special. Judging from the huge grin on the drummers face throughout the whole set, so did he.

This was one of the last nights of the tour and Black Pussy seemed to benefit from the time on the road as their set was almost flawless in it’s composition as in it’s execution. Galaxies lasted about 10 minutes before they moved on, but they covered all the bases and it was a tremendous start. After that, I didn’t recognize any of the songs so I’m assuming they were all from their upcoming album, which was produced by Brant Bjork. They seem to be going into more of a psychedelic vibe than the debut album would indicate and I think this is a good thing. After seeing them live, I definitely dig what’s happening here and I look forward to their new album.

Gabe and I stood by the bar the whole time and we were working on a good whiskey buzz throughout. The Ballroom naturally started to fill up as we got closer to Vista Chino taking the stage but wasn’t necessarily packed, much to my relief AND bewilderment. Nonetheless, there were good vibes throughout and the crowd was ready to get loose to the sounds of the desert.

Vista Chino started with Adara, one of the songs off the new album, one of the mellower songs I might add. One Inch Man, Dargona Dragona and Hurricane followed. By this point I was starting to figure out what they were up to. Tonight would be a slow build, a journey. We’ll eventually get to where we want to go but we’re gonna enjoy the ride along the way and we’re all gonna be high as fuck by the time we get there!

It takes balls to do the kind of set Vista Chino did. They didn’t just rely on their shared past, but made their mark on what will be their very bright future. An announcement that, “Yeah, we made some killer songs 20 or so years ago, but check this out!”. Bruno Fevery played his role perfectly, I hardly even noticed he was there. That’s not to say he didn’t play well, he did, but sharing the stage with three legends is not an easy task. He managed to impress with his tone and ability, while at the same time, giving Garcia, Bjork and Dean the space to lead the way. By the time they got to Dark & Lovely, they were swinging their asses off!

Oh yah, speaking of swing, I could never really put my finger on Brant Bjork’s contributions to the sound of these bands. I know that’s teetering on blasphemy, but I came late to the whole Kyuss thing. When I did, I only really saw the band through the context of Josh Homme’s career. Well not anymore! Bjork’s drumming is so important to the sound; not a basher by any means, he plays with much more nuance and along with Mike Dean on bass, this is a rhythm section that can throw down with the best of ‘em!

Mike Dean is a monster! Between COC’s recent resurgence and now Vista Chino, it seems like he’s been on the road forever and a day... and it shows! Nobody has command of the 4 string the way he does. He crawls inside these tunes, new and old, and brings a whole new life to the band. If they can figure out a way to have both COC and VC co-exist while Dean bounces back n forth, then make it happen goddammit! Seriously, to be able to see bands like this... today... creating and playing new music... while everyone else seems to be pining away for the next 80’s metal reunion!?!?! What the fuck is wrong with you people!?!?

By the end of the set, they were cranking out everyone’s favorites; Thumb, Green Machine, Freedom Run... I’ve never seen John Garcia sing live before, his voice was OUTSTANDING! He sang with such command and sounded so clear and on the money. Again, it’s amazing to me that more people aren’t taking notice. His stage presence is refined, but you get the sense that just under the surface, he’s about to spring out like a cornered beast and rip your face off!

At one point towards the end of the set, during the instrumental part of Planets 1 & 2 (I think), I found myself standing next to him at the bar. He came out into the crowd to get a drink, but seemed to forget his wallet. I told the bartender I’d buy his drink. It didn’t even occur to me that she probably wouldn’t charge him. He got his drink, shook my hand and headed back to the stage to close out the set with Whitewater and Odyssey.

The bartender looked at me, “Eighteen dollars.”.

“What the hell did he order?!”, I asked.

“Double Jack n Coke.”.

“That Bastard!”.

A good night was had by all.

--The Electric Beard of Doom

The Electric Beard Of Doom Podcast can be heard on Saturdays at 10am on Core Of Destruction Radio and 5pm on Grip Of Delusion Radio. **New show every other Saturday**

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