Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Weekend Wrap-Up

I have been trying to gather my thoughts -- not to mention, catch up on some sleep -- for the last couple of days, after the insane -- and insanely long -- weekend.

Everyone has been asking what my highlights were at the Matchitehew Assembly... a pretty difficult task, as I thought through a list and it included over half of the acts... so those are not truly highlights, then, right? Maybe that is a testament to the generally solid curating/booking efforts of the organizers? If I had to list favorites, in no particular order (alphabetical, I suppose), I would say:

Air Conditioning
Bone Awl
Burial Hex
Dead Times
Sword Heaven

Quickly followed by:

John Wiese
Take Up Serpents

Eeeech... I hate even having to make these sorts of lists -- they put one on the spot and they end up causing more trouble than they are worth, but I am still thinking the whole festival through, so maybe it will help... Fuck, I mean, there were only two acts that I wished had not even played. I have never played at, or attended, a multi-day event like this where I liked so much (read: MOST) of the music.

Surprises: Silvum with the drummer from Marblebog. It worked. Very well. Dead Times... having only heard some MySpace music, I was treated to a long-lost cousin to Redrot, maybe? Death-industrial meets lo-fi industrial-metal... something like that.

No surprise: Just how good Air Conditioning, Bone Awl, and Sword Heaven were. Three different flavors of brutality, monumentalism, darkness, aggression, perfection... I could go on and on. Robert from A.C.'s performance might have been my single favorite of the weekend. Dead serious. Sorry, Franco...

In a clinch: No surprise either that Wiese pulled of a great set even after having to re-configure his set, gear, frame of mind, etc., after Hive Mind cancelled.

Velnias were the best I have ever seen them. Tight as hell after their recent tour.

The Ashdautas and Volahn one-two punch was a touch awkward... transitionally, I mean... but once you got past the membership shuffle, it was clear that some distinctly different things were happening between the two configurations. I am listening to their recordings so that I can gain a bit more understanding, as I previously knew little about either band.

I totally enjoyed Marblebog. I have no clue why people were down on their sound. I thought that they sounded excellent, defying the odds of going on last on Friday, after a lot of people bailed out right after we finished -- also this being their first USA show and their first show with a full line-up. I really enjoyed hanging out with and speaking to Gabor, their bassist.

Krieg suffered a similar fate to Marblebog, headlining to a severely reduced audience. But I was glad to see a different take on black metal... glad to see some corpse paint... and it was fun (I mean, grim) to see Blake from Nachtmystium sitting in on bass, in said facial enhancement.

Maledicere was pure aggression and totally up my alley, with some primal Hellhammer-influenced aspects that added to the intensity.

Oakeater... maybe my favorite performance by them. Distilled to the most skin crawling, dark essence. Excellent! And a great "comeback" from Locrian after taking their maternity leave.

Other thoughts: As with festivals like this, it is always a blast to hang out with so many friends, and to meet lots of interesting people. I have a ton of new music to listen to, which I have started making my way through. It will take days... So, "thanks" to everyone who handed me all sorts of goodies! Friday and Saturday were loooooooooong days. Things definitely could have moved at a snappier pace. Damian the sound engineer was a nice guy but he seemed far too overprotective of his system -- to the point where the digital compression (which he confirmed) almost became an extra instrument in several groups' performances. It certainly made things difficult for us... well, for James, really... trying to coax feedback out of our mix, even at a pretty generously high volume, was a very odd experience. Overall, though, things went well for us. The recording that I made sounds really good. We were extremely pleased to have Jason from Cadaver In Drag do "Ten Suicides" with us again... it was a pretty epic (7-minute) version! While a lot of friends were there to support us <<<>>> there were definitely conspicuous absences from the noise scene. In some cases, I know why, and I can not fault those people, at all. In general, the turnout was really disappointing, which was a shame, considering the magnitude of this event. Still, the people that were there seemed really enthusiastic. The crowd was great during our set. And people were really generous in supporting us at the merch table. Thank you for that!

I had a smaller crew at the house than initially expected, so things were relatively comfortable. There was no shortage of birds chirping to remind us how late the nights were. Saturday included a long afternoon at Kuma's, with Air Conditioning, BLOODYMINDED, and Cadaver In Drag folks. ABC. Robert and Franco had to leave early-ish on Sunday, so they missed what will forever be known as SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY... Bloody Mary's made with some biting pitbull puppy mud... and killer ribs, which followed shortly after cocktails... that was an unexpected surprise! After Mr. Schuler was dropped off back at his van, James and I mustered up the last bit of energy possible in order to see Bokeh and The Golden Sores at Enemy, as it was the release show for the new CD by T.G.S. on BloodLust! Both bands played really great sets! I was on the verge off collapse -- in fact, I was nearly hallucinating at a key point during Chris and Steve's set -- and James had to drive back to Milwaukee -- so we bailed out before the out-of-towners played... so, my apologies for no being able to support all of the performers...

I am sure I will think of more, but that is all for now...