Wednesday, August 17, 2011

River Of Snakes, Useless Children, Blacklevel Embassy, Bonnie Mercer


River Of Snakes
Useless Children
Blacklevel Embassy
Bonnie Mercer (Dead River)
Adalita - DJ

Friday 22nd July, 2011
The Tote, Collingwood.

I have been hanging to see River Of Snakes live and the time had finally arrived. The line up tonight for their Bad Blood EP launch at The Tote was massive.

Bonnie Mercer was up on stage as opener. Dead River were originally first up but their drummer hurt her back and couldn’t play so Bonnie was doing it solo tonight.

The stage was fairly lit as the rest of the room sat quietly in darkness waiting for her to start. Bonnie picked up her guitar and looked at home like she’d done it a thousand times before. This was to be Dead River’s first gig at The Tote (their first ever gig was April 25th), now it was all Bonnie’s night.

At 9:20pm ambient semi-feedback lead into gentle distorted strum. She eased us into her set and the punters slowly grazed in and then stood transfixed.

As Bonnie twisted and turned the dials on the pedals, the airplane engine started with an aurally violating attack. We went numb, motionless and the fuckin noise was awesome! Giving Lee Ranaldo's 1987 ‘From Here To Infinity’ a run for it's money!

Caught in her own trance, then a twisted grimace and SLAM goes the head of her guitar into the stage and distorted echoes chorus throughout the room.

9:37pm, it finishes on an another echoing and fading distortion as Adalita kicks in as DJ...

“Loud, Loud, LOUDER!” There was a mic soundcheck, Blacklevel Embassy were up next. Straight into it, furious and tight. If Fugazi beat the shit out of Helmet in a dark alley stand off… the Embassy are the spoils of the alley war. They are a killer band with tight as hell start stop riffage.

Though unfortunate on this night the high end was literally just too ear splitting and blood was screaming out of my ears begging for it to stop. I’m the first to admit that feedback and noise soothes the soul but it was getting ridiculous and the beer garden called.

Blacklevel Embassy are playing The Old Bar Friday 27th August, well worth checking them out… just take along your industrial strength Class 5 Thunder Muffs. You know… just in case.

Useless Children are one of my Melbourne favourites. I have long since tagged them as bi-polar punk. A chilled groove one minute and then sort of like someone has broken into your house and woken you by belting you in the face with a shovel. A chaotic frenzy wipes you out in one foul FUCKIN BANG! Screams from the bowels of hell over the top of punked up mayhem.

Punk? A friend I was with said to me that it wasn’t punk. Well, that’s my description. Punk to me isn’t necessarily a “unified melodious front”, to him it is, which is cool. We come from different backgrounds when it comes to a love and understanding of music. Punk to me is defined more in the way the music is approached, the way it is played and the passion and brutality that is thrown into your face. Like Rock, there are loads of different styles of punk… if you’re lead in the wrong direction by my wording; you’ll understand what I mean when you see them live. To me Useless Children kick more arse than Kim Kardashian could stuff into her tighty whiteys.

With this being said and I do realise that music is a subjective art form, just as is anything creative, it comes down to taste. I find myself walking off to the bar to get a drink at the beginning of their set. Smile across my face and head having mini spasms in time. Walking past a girl who clearly wasn’t coping I think I must have laughed out loud. She looked like she was in agony. Eyes squinting, furrowed brow and at that first moment when I noticed her, the body language of a Nun who was getting hit on by a dirty old man!

All I can say to that is the chaos was beautiful, the music hypnotic and the volume disturbingly perfect. The drumming almost tribal as the layering bass effect put you in a stoner trance. I love how the guitars abuse your senses. Awesome! Useless Children fuckin kick arse!

River Of Snakes sweat the sounds and atmosphere of a band that have been together longer than the Stones. Confidence with no bullshit.

I’m drowning in what I love, 90’s distortion but with a bit of an 80’s song writing sensibility that I just can’t quite put my finger on. There’s a feeling of familiarity that makes you just fall straight into their sound but yet it’s new and refreshing enough to get you hyped and excited to be standing there. It’s so cool when nothing else around you exists and you are just completely consumed.

I dig everything about River Of Snakes and ‘I Lied’ is a favourite. Soaked in pain, bluesy guitar twang and a bass to keep the emotion steady. The symbol crashing with each heart break and the solo, oh the solo is just a perfect treatment to the suffering that’s being shared.

During ‘Bad Blood’ I feel someone rush past me and it’s Adalita taking tequila shots up and putting them on stage. The set is killer but it would be oh so much sweeter if she joined Raul for some noise. The L7esque guitar sound took me back again to the 90’s, which is exactly where I love to be, the deep bass rumbling through the Tote.

Dante’s drumming is tight and keeps it all together. I have to say that I love his use of his symbols, he emphasises what needs to be. Wrecking Ball would be my perfect example.


One stand out that belted me for six was Elissa. Loved her bass playing, she looks so gentle at times and lets go when the feeling takes her. But when she hit that microphone with such a powerful blood curdling scream… she created an entire horror genre all unto herself!

Raul climbed up on his amp and threw his guitar down at the stage. Jumping after it he picked it up and wielded it round like a sword on the battle field striking out at the Tote mercilessly. Eventually it was scattered across the stage in pieces as Elissa sits on the floor, her bass upside down next to her, also exhausted.

“Ok thankyou see ya later, have a great night.”
They leave us with an all consuming noise fest that’s reverberating off into the distance.

River Of Snakes releases sound amazing; though live they just take you to another level of devotion. There is so much I wanted to write but this is one of those bands that need to be seen and heard live to honestly give it justice for how their music is felt. YES! Oh yes, I am a believer!

They are the perfect amount of heavy, the perfect amount of noise and way too much fuckin awesome just to see them once… that’s why I’ll be seeing River Of Snakes again Saturday 27th August at the Old Bar. Who else is on the bill? The amazing Adam Harding – film-maker and musician.

TONIGHT! (Wednesday 17th August) Raul Sanchez (River Of Snakes, Midnight Woolf, Magic Dirt) & Dave Fazza (Mourning Sons) will be at The Retreat Hotel.

Check out the links below to find out more about the bands… and Thornbury Records to buy some sounds… more importantly, some vinyl!

River Of Snakes
Useless Children
Blacklevel Embassy
Dead River
Adalita



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