To begin the evening, Cape Fear, NC’s Sourvein began with a small crowd which steadily grew as their set went on. They asked the club to turn the stage lights down, setting the mood for their dark, murky set. Full of thick, downtuned guitar tones, the band exerts maximum power with minimal effort. Singer T-Roy Medlin, while unleashing guttural screams and howls, maintains a fairly calm, focused demeanor (in contrast to other singers who appear to be on the verge of an aneurysm).
Ending their set with “Fangs,” from their latest album, Black Fangs, Sourvein’s set was fairly short (6 songs), but it was a good first-course of metal for the evening, and the band seemed as excited for Saint Vitus as the crowd was.
Next up, also from the Carolina coast was Weedeater. After making their way to the stage to the theme song from Sanford and Son, the sludge trio played like they were shot out of a cannon, alternating from high-energy riffs to a slow, heavy chug like a metal locomotive.
The focal point of their set, without a doubt, was singer “Dixie” Dave Collins. Snarling his vocals with cartoonish faces and crossed eyes, his performance was full of manic energy, chugging Jim Beam from the bottle, and tongue-in-cheek humor, introducing one song with: “This next song’s called Weedmonkey. I hope you hate every bit of it.” When he gave the finger to the crowd, nobody got offended…they just gave it right back. The trio churned through their massively heavy set, even playing a fuzzed-out version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Back My Bullets.”
By the time Weedeater’s set was over, the crowd had grown significantly and the doom metal legends were met with warm, open arms by the enthusiastic crowd – the show equating to somewhat of a religious experience for some. From the very first note, there was no mistaking the distinct guitar tone of guitarist Dave Chandler.
Harking back to the early days of Black Sabbath, Saint Vitus helped define the genre of doom metal, and returned with a new album, 2012’s Lillie: F-65, their first studio album in 17 years. Mixing older classics with the new material (they played 5 of the 7 tracks from the new album), the crowd were held in thrall by Chandler and DC doom hero Scott “Wino” Weinrich. Holding the microphone like a lover, Wino belted out the songs flawlessly, while holding his intense, trademark gaze over the crowd.
Wino even dedicated a song to Ian MacKaye (watching from stage right) for introducing him to the band years ago. With the departure (and subsequent passing) of founding drummer Armando Acosta, drummer Henry Vasquez (formerly of opener Sourvein) has fit in perfectly, beating the drums fantastically and without mercy. They finished out their set with “Dying Inside” (“A dancing song, for the couples out there,” according to Chandler) and their seminal classic, “Born Too Late.”
The heaviness of the riff in “Born Too Late” is probably best equated to a massive giant, lumbering across the land. Very slow and very heavy, the music churns as Wino laments about days gone by and feeling out of place in the present. As the song drew near the end, Chandler played a wild, wailing guitar solo, using everything from his teeth to the heads of the people in the front row to produce the sounds from his vintage Gibson SG.
Since reforming in 2008, Saint Vitus has sounded more cohesive and fresh with every tour, being precise and on point from start to finish, and this performance was no exception.
Photos: Julia Lofstrand