Some difficult questions vexed the small crowd at Grand Central last night. Why did marginal stoner metal band Corrosion of Conformity decide to fly to Florida for one show on a Monday night? Where’s Pepper Keenan? Why is Consular so angry? More to the point, Why does this Newcastle cost $7?
Thankfully, a strange and vigorous lineup was on hand to put it all in perspective.
First up was Consular and their misanthropic blend of staccato screams and drone-y yet aggressive guitar lines. Vocalist Matt Cleer did not make eye contact with anyone throughout his entire set and neither did I. They raged with impunity and ultimately set a nasty, spastic tone for the evening. We had a live one, that was for sure, though it might be on the autism side of the spectrum. In a good way.
Shroud Eater’s three pieces were each in mid-season form as they chugged through five songs. Their performance was summed up well in an overheard exchange:
— “Shroud Eater, it’s metal.”
— “I get it!”
Drummer Filipe Torres was dead serious about rocking the shit out of this Monday night and he accomplished a lot towards that end, getting the crowd off the fence and showing some signs of life. Guitarist Jeannie Salz admirably pulled double duty as singer and sole guitarist, but frankly I could have used a little more to think about on the trebly side. Texturally they were bare but workable, and they fit right in with the unblinking, unwinking theme of ganja’d-out, straight-ahead metal and utopian visions thereof.
The highlight of the lineup was Holly Hunt, the droning duo of drummer Betty Monteavaro and guitarist Gavin Perry, who played for a blistering, fun 30 minutes. As was pointed out later by Corrosion of Conformity bassist-cum-frontman Mike Dean, Monteavaro sported a smile for much of the set, and I think I might have as a result. Their slow, sludgy sound evoked the purest spirit of humid Floridian torpor and was seemingly played with the perverse pleasure that comes from being so disgustingly sweaty you have stopped giving a fuck. Perry came out with an intricate two-head cab and about a dozen pedals by which he was able to provide strikingly full, intermingled highs and lows that served felicitously as the jam atop Monteavaro’s heavy black bread of aggressive yet rhythmic crashes.
Holly Hunt was everything that noisy two-piece heavy metal ought to be, served with a Coke and a smile. Their sonically comprehensive guitar tones combined with the conspicuous lack of a singer cut through the malarkey and gave their set a stark pertinence and engaging clarity that made you want to join in. The spliff-addled crowd voiced their raucous approval through the haze.
You could tell Corrosion of Conformity was the headliner because they played by far the loudest. The Gibson SG-wielding Woody Weatherman was my spiritual guide through their hour-long set. Though often he struck the pose of the virtuosic shredster, I couldn’t help but feeling like he was cruising through Guitar Hero on medium, although, granted, he was scoring like 99%. Another guitarist on this card who played both lots of (nice and crunchy, in his case) chords as well as all the lead lines, Weatherman played ably but never really transcended the technical limits of most Sam Ash guitar instructors despite the persistent displays of hairy-chested bravado. Dude over by the bar who napped through about four-sevenths of the set knows what I mean.
At any rate, C.O.C. was definitely doing something for a man who gave his name as “Remmy Remmovick”, who, for most of the last 90 minutes of the show, was a one-man mosh pit, finally attracting a couple of followers towards the butt end of the night. Remmy looked like Bruce Willis with a highly cultivated soul patch and he was, clearly, feeling it. Just before their “encore” performance — which was inevitably preposterous because there is no backstage at Grand Central — of “Shelter”, he said he had been waiting “20 years” to hear them play it. Though earlier in the show Mike Dean had derided ol’ Remmy with a gesture that referred to the fact that he may have had a few to drink, they ultimately obliged him. “Just for you,” Weatherman told him, before launching into the night’s final salvo.