My ears are still ringing from seeing Black Breath last week (and my neck is kinda sore, too) but that hasn’t stopped me from going to shows. Last night was Soul Asylum at the Troubadour.
Yes, that Soul Asylum. Everyone remembers the Minneapolis band owning MTV with its music video featuring lost children and singer Dave Pirner dating Winona Ryder, but what’s lost is that they are part of the Twin Cities trinity along with Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. Bob Mould was an early producer and Tommy Stinson plays bass for the band when he isn’t occupied with Guns ‘N Roses, so there.
Starting with a ripping version of Generation X’s “Your Generation” and then blowing through “Dirt” and “Marionette,” they got a cover and some older songs out of the way before introducing some rad new ones and busting into the hits. This is a free jazz workout, Pirner warned the classic rock-leaning audience before kicking into “Runaway Train.” The band always had huge chops to go with Pirner’s attitude, and it’s all still there today. I felt like I was lucky to see them playing stages that were too small for them 20 years ago, and it was like that last night, too.
On Tuesday, Fishbone played a semi-acoustic in-store at Fingerprints Records in Long Beach. That’s only a couple of blocks from where I’ve been working, so how could I not go? When the let in the crowd after sound check, the band was coolly jamming as the tastefully renovated brick building slowly filled up.
The mini set started off with a lot of their new songs. I like the current lineup anchored by Angelo, Norwood, and Fish, a lot. There’s a ton of musicianship and the addition of the two new singers, who add some gravity to Angelo’s free spirit, makes it almost like a reverse Public Enemy. I think a song like “Crazy Glue” would come across as wacky in the ’90s. Now it’s unhinged, a little scary, and gripping. And a song like “DUI Friday” shows as much melody as the group ever had.
Even in the unusually subdued in-store setting, Fishbone got hot with a glorious version of “Everyday Sunshine” and ripping take on “Ugly“–the latter dedicated to Mitt Romney, not unlike how “Lyin’ Ass Bitch” has become associated with Sarah Palin. The band is a real SoCal treasure that all fans of good music need to support.
Last week, there was a top-shelf metal lineup at the Down & Out Bar in Downtown L.A. The tough job of kicking off the show went to Mountain of Teeth. It was only the experimental metal band’s second or third show, but they were rad with traded vocals and technical-but-musical guitar riffs. Try to catch them now before the core members relocate to Portland.
The Nomads were next with 15 minutes or so of thrash energy. Extremely dark, brooding, and cool with super rough edges. Fuck yeah! They were balanced out by the metal melodies of Aeges, who had difficulties with their gear on the tail end of a tour but powered through.
Finally, it was time for Black Breath. On vinyl, the heshers from Seattle sound like a cage match between rabid prehistoric mammals armed with axes and stacks of amps. Its latest cover art, mashing up the bloodied mirror from Black Flag’s Damaged and hammer from Metallica’s Kill Em All, says it all but in concert the nonstop riffs are revealed to be fun as well as violent with unending hair and headbanging.
Long live Black Breath! At least as long as Fishbone and Soul Asylum.
Coming up: Down By Law, Redd Kross, The Promise Ring…