Courtesy of Mike Shea of Codex Obscurum Zine
The Live Performance & The PC Witch Hunt That Almost Ended It
What do you do when wet blanket email warriors vow to shut down a show at all costs? Apparently, you move it a mere 45 minutes west and watch some really “passionate” people lose interest fast. For those not fortunate enough to follow the Facebook pissing match, the show was originally booked at the historic Salem Old Town Hall and pre-sale tickets sold out in a matter of hours. The usual song and dance went down and a bunch of people no one has ever heard of came out of the woodwork to protest the show armed mostly with circular logic. Sadly, and as expected, enough of them got together to pressure the town of Salem into pulling the plug. You heard me: the same town that pays the bills with cutesy witch t-shirts mocking the massacre of innocent people thought the best way to avoid offending everyone still alive was to let anons bully an aging homosexual from playing his acoustic guitar. According to Disques de Lapin, the group run by musician Thomas Nola who took on this suicidal booking task, the city, the fire department, and even the Salem police did everything they could between lying to the press, lying to the promoter and physical intimidation to keep the show from happening. Congratulations ANTIFA scene police, you’re a less organized version of the actual crooked police. A few days of clandestine internet works later and the show had a new secret home, dangled just out of reach in the laisses faire free thinking land of… downtown Worcester? Puke.
The actual show was well worth all the bullshit. A masked Douglas P made his way through the crowd dressed in a white urban-camo-ish outfit to set the sketchy tone for the evening. They jumped right into the longtime classic We Drive East done entirely with percussions and windchimes. For such a minimalist effort it was absolutely overwhelming. After a few songs on the drums the masks came off, the acoustic guitar went on and the duo went into Ku Ku Ku. The entire show seemed to loosen its collective Hitler Youth ties and relax a little after that. I was told not to expect much in the way of stage banter but the between song dialog from Douglas remained lighthearted and witty throughout the night. It was a far cry from the stoic downer I had come to picture in my head from the recordings. Dare I say it made him look like an actual human being.
I was expecting to be a little bored at times but that wasn’t the case. They hit song after song I was waiting to hear: Hollows of Devotion, All Pigs Must Die, She Said Destroy… And beginning with a plea for What Ends When the Symbols Shatter (from local shock rocker Paul CNV) they took just about every request you could belt out loud enough to hear (minus Holy Water).
Again, it was a very humble and down to Earth showing from an artist who has been painted by a lot of people to be a lot of things to the contrary. The sound was actually decently done as well (without even having to grade on a curve for a metalcore/cover band venue), beyond a comical moment of Douglas asking to “turn the delay up to 11.” Towards the end of the set there was quite a bit of griping about the monitor sound on stage, but I think they may have been shooting themselves in the foot by constantly getting feedback by smacking the wind chimes mic. You’d think they’d build a more robust, SPL-heavy wind chime mic, right?
The set wasn’t without its bumout moments. He’s Disabled was a must hear and I was glad they played it, but it doesn’t have the same punch without the harmonized vocals in the chorus. Little Black Angel was another must and I was thrilled to hear it, but they did they speed up because it’s live thing and blew threw the song. The set had been going at a pretty solid pace and I don’t know why the drummer chose that song to attempt an Alex Van Halen impression but it was much too busy with percussions and everything went too fast. Also, not a complaint, but the collection of weirdos this show brought out was inspiring. Between goths, sketcho hessians, stuffy Kraftwerk types in button down shirts, some guy that looked like Tom Hank’s ghost, not especially ex-junkies, some girl in a turban eating a donut, and a guy I deemed Renaissance Fair Danzig, if anyone could see who these shows actually attact they would feel like a moron for protesting them.
Some shows you walk out and get on with your life. Some shows have you buzzing the whole next day. This was a gloomy guitar strumming in your brain, floor tom banging in your heart all morning and night after kind of show. I was glad to finally cross this fascist war machine off my list and have it to remember. And above all I’m glad that reactionary narrow worldview pants shitter “activists” are predictable blowhard posers.
This article appears in Southern Decay courtesy of Mike Shea and Codex Obscurum Zine, a New England based old-school print zine dedicated to Underground Metal, Music, Art and all things dark.