Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It was a Free show.

Whew, it was about time I heard some live local metal! I hadn't been to a show in what seemed like months. There were two reasons for that. 1) The venues seemed to be crawling with PO's. And 2) STMP was having some sort of crisis. (At least that's what I've surmised.)

Here's my distorted version of what was told to me. Apparently, during a New Year's Eve party in which STMP staff and friends were celebrating the beginning of the year, someone on the STMP staff made a resolution to speak his/her mind. (I don't know if this was alcohol induced or not, I didn't really ask for specific details, just a quick breakdown.) Anyway, supposedly the finger pointing and criticisms began, tempers flared, push came to shove, emotions exploded, and blades were brandished. And yes, egos were bruised.

Anyway, this sort of explained why I couldn't find any STMP show postings on the internet. I guess they decided to take a month off to cool down and probably re-organise.

So here's a quick breakdown of this past Saturday's performances.

The first band I witnessed was Hellephant. This was the second time that I've seen these guys live. The first time, I didn't know what their moniker was. They were nice and tight, but a disappointment. The singer was good when he sang, but his in-between song commentary was annoying. Dood, I don't want to hear excuses, I wanna fucken thrash, headbang, MOSH!!! Don't tell me that you came here on short notice and are somewhat unprepared. Just fucken be as brutal as possible. If you suck, I'll tell you so. Don't tell me you're gonna suck ahead of time.

I can't remember the names of the two bands that followed. They were good, but their look just wasn't in their favor. They seemed like Boy Bands' gone Metal. Yes, teenie boppers showing off their musical prowess. There was talent there, no denying it. I'm pretty sure they'll make fine metal bands once they pass puberty.

The two bands that followed were more mature. I can't remember the first one's name, but they were pretty good. The singer really seemed to be getting engrossed in his roll by being almost theatrical in his movements and expression. The only thing he had against him was his teenie bopper stature.

Belligerency was the other band. It's taking me some time to get used to the new sound. They're playing the same songs, but with recent line-up changes, the songs have taken a sonically different flavor. The drums were weak and almost inaudible at times. The bass player was having guitar strap malfunctions at the beginning of the set, but overall they put on a decent performance. The band will be looking for a new guitarist in March.

I didn't stay for the entire show. I left early on the count that my "spidey-sense" kept tingling as the evening progressed. I kept expecting to see a probation officer pop in at any second. But all in all, it was a good show at Friendz Bar in San Benito. From what I understand, this was the last free show to be held there. STMP will be hosting shows there once a month with a $5 cover charge. See you there.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Battle of the Bands at Baloo's

Okay, so Saturday I proved that I CAN make bad decisions. It's a chronic thing, but what can you do. That's what happens when you're a human being. Anyway, lets get to the details shall we?

Throughout last week I was getting calls from my friends as to what I was going to do on the weekend. To each that called, I gave a possible scenario, but told them that nothing was concrete. I was torn between X-mas shopping, the STMP show at Smiley's, the Battle of the Bands at Baloo's and the Cowboys game. But with so many choices, I did what any guy in my shoes would do. I decided not to decide. Actually, I chose to just stay home and study my new drum machine. I've had it for months now and haven't tried it out at all. Shame on me.

Anyway, after work Saturday morning I went straight home. I didn't follow my regular Saturday morning routine of buying two beers at the local convenience store and drinking them with dinner. (Breakfast if you really want to get technical.) Instead, I got home, had a light meal since I had nothing in the fridge and then went to bed.

I woke up sometime after 4:00 pm pretty much rejuvenated. I still didn't feel like going out, but the thought of sitting down and studying a new technology suddenly didn't seem so appealing. So I decided to attend the Battle of the Bands at Baloo's. Mind you, this event was advertised as an 11 or 12 hour event with some 20 bands performing. By the time I awakened, this event was already well underway.

I should've stuck with my nature and gone to the STMP show at Smiley's. I knew that the fare at Baloo's was going to be of the Alternative genre. Well, the majority of it was anyway. But there was one band that I just had to see. A band called Helleri. Now, these guys aren't Alternative. They're a NuMetal band out of Santa Rosa and their shows have been known to be very energetic. I'd seen them once before at a McAllen venue and the whole event was a snapshot of orchestrated insanity. It ruled! However, that Helleri was a completely different band. But lineup changes haven't done much to diminish their power except maybe change their sound and style a tad.

Anyway, I went to Baloo's with the intention of watching Helleri and only Helleri. The information that I'd gotten stated that they were to go on at 7:oo pm. I got to the venue a little before that, paid the 5 bucks and thought nothing of it. I few moments later, I see one of the guitarists from Helleri (a fellow I'd jammed with in a band before) and go over to engage him in some light chitchat. It's during our brief conversation that I learn that there's been a 2 hour delay and that they wont go on till 9:00 pm. That was a little bit more time than I wanted to invest on this outing. Since I'd already paid the 5 bucks, I decided to stay.

A weekend getting tortured at Guantanamo Bay would've been time better spent. I had to sit through the performances of 4 Alternative bands before Helleri took the stage. Oh my god! The torture. The humanity. The pitiful sounds of Jimi Hendrix wannabe's in 90's grunge outfits with ambitions of being the next College Radio breakout stars. I was not in my element. The crowd at the venue seemed quite happy with the bands. Needless to say, I didn't like the crowd either. They seemed like well to do, bored preppy college kids dressed either as neo beatniks or witty goths emulating Bette Paige. I better stop myself, now.

Helleri gave their usual high energy performance. However, the venue didn't lend itself to the intensity of their sound. The fact that the performance was outdoors and the stage a concrete floor seemed to zap the power out of the punch that the band was trying to deliver. Their timing was impecable, their sound clean and clear and their enthusiam was there, but again, the oomph was lethargic. Not that it's a bad reflection on the band, but rather a poor choice of stage location on the part of the promoters. I would've imagined a better sound quality from the recording studio that organized the event.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A November to Dismember (IV)

Okay, so I missed STMP's show on the 19th. For those of you who don't know, STMP stands for South Texas Metal Productions. It's a small, local talent promotion company that specializes in the heavier and darker end of the local music scene. They typically hold about 2 shows a month if we're lucky.

I didn't miss the show on the 25th though. It's really weird that I went to the show at all. I'd made no plans to attend and was probably more inclined to avoid it, but a friend of mine who's a (if not THE) soundman for STMP called me Friday and unfortunately didn't get a hold of me. But I did get the message. So Saturday morning, the day of the show, I decided to return his call. However, I quickly discovered that I no longer had his phone number. So what's a guy to do? I decided to pay him an unexpected visit.

I didn't know how the visit was going to turn out. His call had been unexpected and it left me wondering what it was all about. Had I offended him? I wondered. But I'm not the type to talk shit about anyone, so that can't be it. So I knew I wasn't walking into an ambush. But still, you never know so I kept on my toes. Maybe he needs my help with something, I thought. That has to be it. So I steeled myself for whatever sort of favor he might ask. Backbreaking labor? Financial assistance? Needs to borrow equipment? Criminal enterprising? I had no idea. Turns out, he just wanted to catch up and share some of his time with me and just bond. Man how time flew.

Anyway, getting back to the main point. My friend, Chris, eventually told me that his band was playing that night and invited me to attend. He offered to get me in for free as a "friend of the band" since they were headlining the show. An offer that I accepted, but unfortunately didn't pan out because we eventually went to the event in different cars and everything just turned gray. Still, it was six bucks well spent.

I arrived at the venue just as the first band was ending their set. For the life of me, I can't recall a single band's name. Except my friend's band, VALDRIS. Not that they sucked. All the bands were good. Well, maybe one band did suck. The one from Weslaco that had the singer that was apologizing every five minutes for what he percieved was the band's ill-preparedness. But all in all, every band put for a tremendous effort and, at least to me, the show was a success.

Okay, so I strayed a little, again. The moshpit! That's what this is about. The moshpit. STMP moshpits generally aren't very big and intense. But when they happen, it's worth it to jump in the fray. I have to admit that even though STMP moshpits don't hold up to the lore of big name bands and venues. The one on the 25th was probably the most intense STMP moshpit I've been in. I got knocked on my ass! And it was fun, too. Cause I got to knock other's on their ass! To my surprise, no REAL violence broke out. Everyone that got knocked down understood that it was all in good natured fun.

I did get up the next day sore in places I didn't even know I had. I also had bruises, welts and scratches all over my body. There's no doubt in my mind I got the bruises from the tall, skinny, white guy in the bandana. He was all boney and angular. His knees and elbows looked and felt more like stabbing weapons. He was one of the guys that was frequently laid out on his ass. But he was a good sport about it. And it wasn't like he didn't lay anyone out, either. He gave as good as he took.

The bottom line is that I had a lot of fun at this show. Good bands, tight show, and a decent moshpit to boot. Unfortunately, I left before VALDRIS got to play. I was exhausted. I'd been up 24 hours straight for one thing. But the thing that got me to leave was the sudden arrival of a probation officer.