I am still kicking myself for not going to see Young Widows at The EARL back in the spring of 2014. It was a Saturday, and after dragging my (cough * deadhead * cough) girlfriend to a few shows she was not that excited about, i thought that the loud intensity of Young Widows would be another one of those things she endured just for my sake, and i didnít want to push the relationship that far. There are only so many concerts i can make her endure, you know?
It was a few months later when i played the record and she remarked how she liked that they sounded like Soundgarden... So i ended up forgoing that show for the sake of romance, and have regretted it, slightly. When Young Widows announced another tour date, i made plans to attend.
Child custody scheduling kept the afore-mentioned (cough * deadhead * cough) girlfriend from attending the show. Which is kind of appropriate really since the crowd at this one consisted of about 20 guys and three women, one of which was the girlfriend of the drummer of the first band, one other girl who was there on a date apparently (wonder how that worked out for them!), and the merch girl for Young Widows. One of the bartenders was female, but she didnít really pay attention to that noise in the other room.
This struck me as odd, and yet very typical of shows. I go to see a lot of concerts that are, well, sausage fests. I don't know why that is. I do not think that the music i listen to is particularly "male" per se. It's not like people are singing MRA anthems or anything... Actually, that would irritate me. So i am not sure what is going on.
I mentioned this to a few friends about how the show failed a sort of Concert Bechdel Test, and J Fid (Future Mayor of Lavista Hills) proposed that the this should be called The Rush Effect. As in, the band Rush. I kind of hate that band, but they still play arenas to an apparently all male crowd. Any women at Rush shows are there due to romantic contractual obligations only.
So: the Young Widows show suffered from The Rush Effect, and i am not totally sure why. But whatever.
There were three acts at the show featuring a total of 12 male performers. No women were on the stage at all. Again, not atypical.
Before i get into the three bands i want to discuss something, specifically, scheduling. According to the 529 website, doors for the show were at 9. I showed up at 9:55 expecting the first band to be on stage, as was the case when i came to this venue to see Mac McCaughan. Instead, the door guy said that things should get started "in a half hour or so". Okay, fine. It was late as heck on a day that i have to be at the office at 8am, but whatever. I grabbed a beer and waited.
The first band started playing at 10:55pm. That is about 2 hours after the doors for this event opened. Why? Why did they keep everyone waiting for so long?
Look, i get that the venue and the bands want people to be at the shows. But you know what? Waiting until people show up doesn't work! You know what does work? Having a consistent schedule that people can count on! How many people thought about coming to this show and then thought, "Will it start at 9:15 or midnight? I dunno and i don't want to stand around finding out when the 529 decides to get things started..." You see, you need to establish a pattern that people can trust, then they will come out to the shows.
It took The EARL years to figure this out, and 529 is still kind of a new venue, but i am trying to help them out here. Pick a time frame and stick with it.
Okay. The first band to take the stage, at the magical hour of five before eleven, was a local four-piece. The website and the signs in the venue mentioned a band called Xerxes, who are affiliated with No Sleep Records. However, the opening band said something about being grateful they got to fill in at the last minute. And they never mentioned their name. At all. I only know their name (Tired Magic) because they had some merch back at the table... No idea what happened to Xerxes. (Well, Atlanta does have a lot of Greeks and we know how they feel about Persians Ö)
Their rhythm section is disappointed that no one with a microphone thought
to mention the name of the band to the crowd...
Anyway Tired Magic are a local four-piece of young looking dudes. They played a sort of grunge-derived rock. I would guess that these people grew up with Nirvana. Okay. The only problem is that i get about five promos a month that sound exactly like this. Tired Magic were, in short, a generic rock band for the modern era. Not bad, but nothing to really distinguish themselves.
Guitarist / vocalist of Tired Magic.
at 11:40 (19 hours after i woke up to go to work, for those keeping score at home!) the second band started to play. I was kind of annoyed at the late hour, but the band kept me entertained while setting up. They managed to cram five people onto the little stage at 529, which is no small feat. They did this, in part by shoving the bass player into the corner. He seemed okay with that, and while the rest of the band was sound checking he noticed that there were light switches along the wall about 5 inches from his face when he turned to face the wall.
You can see the mayhem on the bassist's face as he realizes
that he has control of the venue's lights!
So he played with them, giving the stage and crowd various levels of mood lighting, until the sound guy yelled at him to stop before he cut off the power to the venue...
I watched this whole exchange bemusedly through my work-day exhaustion. Maybe it's not funny to someone who wasn't there...
The band was called Reverse the Curse and they are from Columbus, OH. Ah, my long lost Homeland, which i have not visited in, well, maybe since before these guys were born. That's depressing to think about...
I love this action shot of the RtC drummer: he looks posessed!
They were a five-piece band, as i said above, and they had three people on guitar. That is a little unusual as far as lineups go, but they did a lot with it.
At times they sounded like The The (and i never get to say that!): the vocalist had a powerful voice that kind of overwhelmed the rest of the instrumentation in a very Matt Johnson sort of way.
"You didn't get up this morning because you didn't go to bed..."
Notice that he has the exact opposite of Matt Johnson's hair...
At other times the three guitars would riff off of each other like Soundgarden.
Second guitarist. The third is hidden in the shadows to the right of this picture.
At still other times, the rhythm section would riff away mightily and they would invoke Maps and Atlases. This is not to say that they were derivative. They blended sounds reminiscent of those three bands to come up with something that was their own.
I really enjoyed this set.
They played for about half an hour. Then it took half an hour for them to gear out and for Young Widows to set up. For the record, Young Widows started performing at 12:46am, which is about four hours after the doors opened and 20 hours after i got up that morning. Yawn. I get tired just thinking about it... But the middle band was good and energetic and fun, so i was okay at the show. And once Young Widows started to play everything was beyond fine, it was great!
Guitarist / vocalist Evan Patterson setting up.
They are three-piece and they played in the dark in front of huge amps that had lights built into them, so the band was backlit. It was a neat effect, but not exactly easy to photograph.
In fact, i am glad i got this shot of bassist Nick Thieneman before the
stage lights went out. He was impossible to photograph with the back lighting.
He did have a really cool bass pedal set up:
And they were intense. The drummer and bassist built up a massive roar, a thunderous drone that reminded me of seeing Swans in their prime, but with a little Rodan-ish oddness to it. The vocals were deep and roared and the guitar a scattered thunder that came in and off at odd moments.
Some shots of Patterson playing in the amp lights:
They played much of Easy Pain, a record that i really liked, and it was even better live. I regret never having seen them before and urge each and everyone one of you (well, i guess technically it's "both readers" but whatever) to go see them the next time you have a chance.
Unless you are female, then maybe not. I still don't understand that part of it.