Yes, I'm aware that Big Business was headlining this show, but due to a few lame excuses (including a wardrobe malfunction) I decided not to stick around for much of their set. Aforementioned lame excuses aside, by the time I chose to take off, Panthers and Hull had rocked my ass sufficiently; anything more would've been a redundancy.
To the none or so of you that regularly read this blog, you should know by now that I totally dig Panthers. My first time seeing them was at Club Europa in Greenpoint, with their set sandwiched between openers Titan and headliners Witch on a stellar top-to-bottom stoner rock triple bill, back about 14 months ago. Witch are fantastic, but between Panthers righteous riffs and explosive energy, they totally stole the show, sending me scurrying home post-show towards eMusic where I found Things Are Strange, a dense, thunderous slab of stoner metal awesomeness, complete with just enough punk to keep shit lively. Since then I've tried to catch them at every available opportunity (I think it's five total times I've seen them now -- Europa, Sin-e, Northsix, and again at Europa for their recent album release shindig), and they've never come close to disappointing. In fact, the only time I haven't left a Panthers show totally sat-si-fied was at last year's Vice / CMJ showcase, when I had to miss out on getting totally shitfaced on free Sparks (!?!) so I could get up early for my pointless, excruciating job the next morning. Thus, my lack of sat-si-faction was not the fault of the band, but instead due to my inability to quench my insatiable appetite for Sparks. Anyway, long story short, Panthers rule.
My hopes ran high for this show; what's more, I've had good luck in the past with loud shows at Knitting Factory. Comets on Fire / Woods / Blues Control was flat out the best show I saw during 2006 (of sixty total shows or so). Not to mention the 3 Inches of Blood / Early Man / Bad Wizard triple bill which unexpectedly rose from the depths of awesome and pretty much singlehandedly restored my faith in seeing metal shows. So, yeah, I had reason to believe that saucy times awaited on this night.
Opening tonight's show was Brooklyn's Hull, about whom I knew nothing other than that the sole Hull track available on eMusic is like 17 minutes long, which obviously had me hoping for lengthy, multi-part thrash/doom/stoner fare with a bunch of wacky time signatures. Well, good news; that's pretty much exactly what these guys are made of. Yippee! Seriously, they played for about 40 minutes, and their set comprised a grand total of THREE songs. How great is it when the band announces "okay, we've got one more song left in the set..." and the smoke doesn't clear for another 20 minutes? Fuck yeah! This is some way forceful, brutal, and even virtuosic stuff -- no joke, in the midst of the pummeling, epic riffage (three guitars!), I was pleasantly surprised to hear them ripping off some soulful, bluesy solos. Vocals largely inaudible, but really who the fuck cares, as long as you've got just enough Cookie Monster peering up above the cacophony.
After their set, they mentioned that they had some merch for sale "way in the back," i.e. not on the usual merch table in the same room as the stage, where the Big Business/Panthers swag sat, but in the corner of the bar room farthest from the stage. Made my way there as quickly as I could, but nobody from the band showed up, leaving a wasted little guy who identified himself as the brother of a band member to feverishly paw through the boxes of shit and try to make heads or tails of what people wanted. Unfortuntately, between me and him, neither of us could locate any "fat guy" tees, so I walked away with a limited edition CD in a handmade package, complete with wax seal ($5!).
Made my way back towards the front of the stage, waiting for Panthers to set up their shit. I've had their new record, The Trick, on pretty heavy rotation since it came out a couple of months ago. The band seems to like it well enough, too, since I haven't heard them perform anything from any of their other albums since that first time I caught them at Europa. Minor quibble, but hot damn I'd love to hear "We Are Louder" or "Legally Tender" or something (anything!) else from Things Are Strange next time I see them which looks like it will be at Webster Hall opening up for High on Fire some time this fall.
I had seen a MySpace bulletin announcing that Panthers drummer Jeff Salane's wife had recently given birth, so it came as little surprise that tonight he wouldn't be playing with the band. (He was standing to my left, watching the show from the crowd at the edge of the stage, however.) Shame, because he's a great, hard hitting-yet-nimble drummer, and author of perhaps the loudest cymbal crashes I've ever heard.
As the band shot into "Listen to Me," the best song off The Trick, I was pleased that they had switched up their setlist a bit -- no more "Goblin City" opener. It became pretty obvious that the new drummer wasn't as enthusiastic or hard-hitting as the music demanded. Fuck. I'm sure new babies are great and all, y'know, a little bundle of fucking joy or whatever, but here's hoping Panthers have their drummer back before too long. Also, singer Jayson Green appeared to be suffering from some sort of throat malady, as evidenced by the bottle of Chloraseptic he consulted a few times during the set.
This was probably the shortest set I've seen Panthers play, coming in at just seven songs and under 30 minutes, maybe because of Green's sickness. Either way, whatever the affliction, it didn't negatively affect his intensity as he stomped and sweated his way through the set before hopping into the crowd to thrash along to the instrumental coda to the set-closing "The Impeccableness" Fun, fun shit.
So why did I leave during Big Business' set? Well, a bunch of lame excuses which I'm not going to get into here. Fuck it.
No worries, though, as there are no less than a bunch more promising shows in the pipeline: Oxford Collapse with Cheeseburger (!!!) tomorrow night, Bobby Bare Jr. Thursday, and Bouncing Souls Saturday. I'm'a try to write something about each for y'all.