Thursday, December 31, 2015
2015: The Year in Shows
Broncho at the Black Cat backstage
Small room, packed house, and an entire room waiting pensively for the band's signature song....which they wisely saved for the last number of the evening.
One of the greatest experiences in live music is feeling a crowd surge forward when a song begins. And that's exactly what happened at the opening vocals of "Class Historian" kicked in. I'm pretty sure that no one in the room wanted that song to end.
Goatwhore at the Rock and Roll Hotel
Goatwhore isn't necessarily one of my favorite metal bands, but I do like the idea of the "blacked death metal" sub-genre (in execution more than name, I suppose). Either way, they pull it off pretty well.
Two things struck me about this show:
1. Goatwhore is a good band. And that's not always a given.
The gap between an average metal band and a good one might as well be a gulf. The two bands that opened for Goatwhore that night were clear road dogs. They were living it and loving it, but they simply weren't all that good. It pains me to say this, and I certainly won't mention any names, but by the time Goatwhore took the stage it didn't really matter how much I liked them. It mattered that they were - by far - the best band in the room.
2. Ben Falgoust seems pretty normal.
Case and point: at some point in the show he said something about looking out for one another in the pit. This isn't unheard of, but I was surprised to hear him follow the warning by muttering that he knows what it's like to live with a physical disability, and that we need to take care of one another.
Not your typical satanic band stage banter...
Pentagram at the rock and Roll Hotel
I resolve that in 2016, I will stop using this blog to talk about my career problems. It is undignified.
But in this case, it fits.
Pentagram's homecoming show was less than two weeks after I lost my job. To say that I felt damaged would be putting it mildly. It was at or around this time that it was dawning on me that I was going to have to completely rebuild my professional life.....possibly in ways that I didn't want to.
I was 41 years old, with a head full of grey hair, and a wife and kid to take care of. And here I was, suddenly without a job, without a plan and without any confidence that I'd ever be as happy as I was two weeks earlier. It was hard not to feel like things were over. I felt obsolete.....as though I was only good at things that didn't matter to anyone.
So, I went to the club alone that night, stood in the back of the room, sipped beer and watched a beaten-but-not-quite-broken sixty-one year old Bobby Liebling sing doom rock for an hour.
He looked frail, but happy. He was nervous in front of his hometown crowd in a way that way that seemed to scream "sober, at last."
And while his stage presence was somewhat awkward, his voice was in tremendous shape. The highlight of the evening -- probably the concert year -- was hearing Liebling hit a surprise falsetto note on "Forever My Queen."
I headed out of the club that night, thinking how miraculous the entire event was.....five years earlier, Liebling was a full blown addict, living in his parents' basement. He'd burned all of his bridges, and missed countless career opportunities. By all accounts, it should have been over - his band, his career, his life - decades ago.
I walked to my car, reminding myself that it was never too late, and to never give up.