April 11....The Scene...is the Khyber(Pass) in Philadelphia...a legendary live dive that I had yet to visit before this evening. Savannah's Black Tusk were voted The "hot" metal band in Rolling Stone's annual HOT issue. I don't know how a metal band can be hot unless they're the house band down Hades way...but I had to dig through the fuss and report on it. As usual and with pride, I'm all over the place....Here's what I got:
Dive is Home. This Khyber place is def in the deep end of dive ..chewed up floor, paneled walls..low ceiling.
First band is Struck By Lightning. The stage is 2 1/2 feet up. The ceiling is 8 Ft high. The Sovtek head is 6 inches from the ceiling. There is SO MUCH volume, I hear nothing. A square wave of volume. The feedback is a back up singer. Never been to a show where you couldn't hear the drums. I scratch my head because singer's death shriek bellowed out below a jet black handlebar 'stache sounds like gossamery lilt against an agonizing wall of wattage. Whitenoise/blackdeath...strangely drawn to this black belly heave of static tonnage, but why?
Is it the release I see in the purveyors of angry metal-thrusting upon listeners like a wake up spike to the bone-ish part of the brain? Is it the cool denim vests? I can't seem to find it anywhere else. My reckoning is here and made of the black darkest tubes wire and wood. It is a pressure valve in concert with a thumb down over arterial spray of dark notes scattering dust bunnies in hollow halls of a sleepy soul.
There is a backwards feedback effect between every song..and the lithe blonde guitarist seems enamored with it. Sound akin to Local 17 Jackhammer crew trying to gnaw through girders in a tunnel. The set is over just before my ear canal fills with blood that loosens years of waxy buildup...this will wipe my murky hearing slate clean for my main event...Black Tusk.!!
A mere 6 tall boy gulps later and its.....Black Tusk time...the Savannah south's gonna do it again.Guitarist is all hair flailing and Explorer wailing..wielding an uppercut of infinite decibels...bassist is bald as a confederate eagle meets Billy Gibbons with a neck tat of a gun pressed to his ear. He looks like a school bully gone, bad, then worse. Drummer has scarred sleeves of ink nicked from either grease monkey Mopar surgeries or tool and die missteps...but he crushes the kit like its a snake in the tall grass...Lets roll....My eyes close and see Swamp Things strapped to steel guitars rising from darker than black lagoons, the sky is lit and the ground vibrates as this creature searches aimless for the rest of the burly herd covered in vines and blindness. His call is a monstrous riff strummed every 50 meters....I am lost in this vision as angry elbows encroach...and then.... There is an overwhelming fog of B.O. and chain grease in this crowd of misguided youth..if I pass out in my High Life, I better finish with a good thought...fuck I'm going to faint from ball sweat, pit trench stench that's wilting beard hair and killing grass that ain't even grown yet.. Somebody save me......eyes adrift and then....
The Tusk is off and running again with a rolling storm of riff punches that can shove a thought back into your subconscious..walloping the caustic airthat is.bleeding like a gas leak..giving the bad whiffs a good beat down.....my nose hairs burnt to wicks and then.....guitars to the sky in J. Priest unison..guitars to the crowd like sacred sabres. en garde, motherfuckers! Hulking power chords bringing shipwrecks to the surface with faultline decimating riff curls. All three members gargling with live bullets into the heat of the mics..spitting out songs like target practice into the crowd... like varmints in a Georgia back yard..we are being hunted down. We are predictably un- led to anywhere, we are leveled by a crushing melange unable to decipher any word, we are smiling through split lips from the burning brim of the pit.. yet still the message is clear from Black Tusk arrive..annihilate...sell merch..burn road rubber...repeat. Message received, kind sirs.
Black Tusk cleared the air, cleared my mind, cauterized the wounds, bruised some new ones into place and rolled on . An aftermath of Pabst bottles like spent shells, ivory shards, broken bootlaces, trickles of blood, sweat and spit littered the jungle- like floor. An ambience of tinnitus and a halo of tiny black clouds guide me to the parking lot. I am stunned but will recover. Until release day. Then, the south's gonna do it to it again.
Black Tusk has a new album called Taste the Sin out on Relapse Records May 25
Do the right thing.