Monthly Archives: July 2013
I didn’t think that seeing Bolt Thrower twice in a week was quite enough, so the day after the Portland show I jumped on a train and went to Seattle to see them one more time. The scenery on train ride was quite picturesque although whenever I’d see a small town next to the tracks I’d think of Twin Peaks which was filmed in the state. In fact after seeing some disused train carriages I got major chills up the spine (watch the series if you don’t know what I’m talking about).
After several hours I arrived in an overcast and cold Seattle and made my way to the hotel which was about 400 metres from the Space Needle. Seattle is a nice town with interesting architecture but I was pretty happy to just jump in a cab and not bother trying to work out public transport.
I had developed a nasty cold after MDF and today I felt absolutely terrible from constantly coughing and was considering not going. But it was my last night in the US and we’re talking about Bolt Thrower after all so I pulled myself together. After lounging around for a while, I caught a taxi over to the venue which looked to be in a pretty happening area of Seattle despite all the bums/crusties around. I wandered around looking for some dinner and decided on a Thai restaurant which ended up being an awesome choice as I had the BEST crispy fried calamari I’ve ever eaten. I also had Paad Thai which was yummy but strangely sweeter than I’m used to in Australia. I strolled back to the venue where I met Aussie drongos Stu and Django and their mates from Aldebaran and Shadow Of The Torturer and we went to a coffee shop and I had a divine hot chocolate.
The venue was quite decent and had an upstairs viewing area that was pretty cool. I can’t remember exactly what beers we were scoffing but I think an IPA won out. First band up was locals Deathraid who played a heavyish d-beat style that seem to go down well. I only watched a bit but I swear I heard the singer yell “your mother sucks cocks in hell” during one song which was maybe sickness-induced wishful thinking. I could hear them from where we sat upstairs and they did a great job.
I was more than happy seeing Bolt Thrower 2 nights in a row but Benediction was another matter and I only ended up watching a few minutes while I took some snaps. They sounded killer and the crowd were loving it but I thought that sitting down and drinking beer with mates was a better use of my time. Unfortunately the table we were sitting at was under an open skylight so it was a bit draughty which wasn’t helping my cold.
Bolt Thrower put on yet another awesome performance and I think I really could handle seeing them live every week for the rest of my life! The sound wasn’t quite as amazing as the previous night in Portland and I felt like shit from the cold but I still had a blast. The crowd went apeshit and the stage divers seemed to be getting a good range. It’s always good to see stagedivers who know what they are doing instead of the classic idiotic moves of getting up there, being scared and just dropping into the crowd, or the stage hog “look at me I’m in the band” tossers. The setlist was fairly similar but War Master got another run and was the highlight for me. I had hoped to see Unleashed (Upon Mankind) or a different song from Realm Of Chaos but no luck. I was also surprised they didn’t play At First Light off their last album as that’s a corker and seemed to be a regular in their old sets. Once again the band looked to be really enjoying themselves and each night I saw them I noted that Jo Bench was headbanging the hardest. I think they finished with In Battle There Is No Law again (it’s all getting a bit hazy) and after saying my farewells I hailed a taxi and returned to my hotel. No late night boozefests tonight which was probably quite a good thing. I was very happy that the final band I saw on this trip was Bolt Thrower.
The next day was my final day in the US and I did a bit of sightseeing around Seattle as my flight wasn’t until late afternoon. As it was just down the road from my hotel, I went to the Space Needle which has a pretty cool view although the real highlight was a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture display next door which was simply stunning.
I then did my classic manoeuvre of it-doesn’t-look-too-far-to-walk-on-the-map and of course walked way too many bloody miles to the Pike Place Market which is pretty legendary. I thought it was a bit crap actually but I did see a fish get thrown at a customer and had a nice fish and chips meal. Plus I found a boss comic store where I was sorely tempted to spend way too much money on the below Alien bust. I ended up just buying a small Simpsons figurine in blind packaging and got lucky with an Otto figure.
This trip I’d been distracted with the usual beer consumption and music shop browsing and hadn’t bought my darling Ann a decent present so I stopped by a jewellery store and picked up a nice necklace (better late than never). At one point the nice prim looking sales assistant looked at my shirt and asked me if I enjoyed the gig the night before! She had been at Bolt Thrower of course and was suffering some bruises from the mosh. Small bloody world!! I returned to the hotel and while waiting for a taxi to the airport I witnessed a bizarre spectacle. A strange tweaker who looked to be on various substances strolled in and started asking how much it would cost to book out 10 – 15 rooms there. He didn’t seem to give an explanation as to why he needed so many rooms but kept trying to bargain the prices down. He went on and on and asked strange things like if they would accept payment in pennies or dollar notes. I could see the poor receptionist rolling her eyes at me and probably debating about calling security. He then asked if he could be paid to haul away the old CRT TVs which were piled out the front for $5 each which seemed like a strange request from someone who wants to waste thousands of dollars on a dozen rooms. I really wish I’d taken a surreptitious photo of him as he had on a cheap suit, huge sunglasses and wild hair. I was a bit disappointed when my taxi arrived mid way through the shenanigans. After several stimulating and thrilling hours in Sea-Tac airport I began the journey home, the highlight of which was finally getting around to watching The Departed. Finally I arrived back in Canberra and was picked up by my darling one with a box of hot, freshly cooked sausage rolls!! Thankfully both the vinyl I bought and the spiffy beers I bought home from Portland survived the trip and I didn’t end up with a suitcase full of damp clothes and broken glass and records. Ahh life is good and I had a whole week to recover before spending 2 days in Sydney for the Evil Invaders festival!
I arrived back in Portland on the Monday after MDF and was unsurprisingly pretty tired and knackered so that night we just took it very easy and Ryan barbequed some divine home made sausages. After 4 days of questionable MDF food it was so good to have a full meal. We also quaffed some tasty beers including my 2nd taste of a Westvleteren 12 which was similarly amazing and also my first taste of the lovely Duchesse De Bourgogne.
Prior to the gig we drove around sightseeing a bit more and they took me to a rose garden that was bloody huge and quite beautiful. It was an amusing contrast wandering around smelling roses just a few hours before seeing one of the heaviest bands on the planet! However I am a man of culture so I enjoyed myself and took way too many pictures of roses for my darling Ann back at home as she is very keen on roses.
We stopped by the 2nd Sizzle Pie pizza joint in town where I had several caffeinated beverages to try and stay conscious as I was still on east coast time. There was some quality crazy hobo action out the front of the place which provided some depressing entertainment until management convinced him to depart. We then walked to the venue and after the security looked strangely at my Canberra drivers license I was finally let in and was very pleased with the size and layout of the venue. I do enjoy large festivals like MDF or the old Metal For The Brain gigs in Australia however there is nothing quite like seeing a band you love in a medium sized venue and I reckon Star Theatre was about 500 capacity which was perfect. It looks to have had quite a history over the years which you can read about here with it being a burlesque joint and porn movie theatre and also owned by Gus Van Sant for a while.
I grabbed an oatmeal stout which was pretty decent and had a seat at a comfy booth while the first band set up. 2 random tweakers asked to sit at my booth which was fine and I had a great time listening to them talk complete shit. One guy had tattoos on his face and was rambling to his dopey mate about not wanting to show people his metal shirts as they only “for him”. He also said the same thing about his tattoos which was very amusing considering he had one on his forehead! We then had a chat about the pre-White Zombie band that I can’t remember the name of and can’t seem to find any information on so maybe it was all in his imagination. They then noticed there was an upper viewing area to the venue so they quickly cleared off leaving me to my beer. I ventured outside into the beer garden and commencing drinking PBR (the beer selection outside was somewhat limited) and was introduced to a few Portland metal folks including legendary growler Gurge (aka Dave) from Lord Gore and quite a few other Portland death metal bands who was a nice chap.
First band of the night were locals Night Nurse who played a crusty death metal style not too dissimilar to early Bolt Thrower and they were excellent. They had a female singer who had a great scream although after a while it sounded like a death metal band fronted by John from Nuclear Assault which was an odd combination. Portland is nearly as incestuous as Melbourne and sure enough Night Nurse had members of Splatterhouse, Blood Freak and also Hellshock who were up next. The guy from Hellshock was having guitar problems and took some time fixing them but it was understandable considering he had another set to play. Overall I quite enjoyed their set. Around about then I met fellow Aussie blokes Stu and Django who were both doing the same Bolt Thrower side gigs as me although Django is obviously the most metal of us as he was also going to Chaos In Tejas to see them. Apologies for the crap photos but it was quite dark and I hate using a flash plus I was pretty drunk.
Following them were Hellshock who I’d missed in New York a week earlier as I was too busy boozing outside and laughing at mates getting busted for pissing in the streets by an overzealous cop in a golf buggy (I hope you guys paid the fines). Hellshock are still metal but are a bit more crust punk than Night Nurse but to tell the truth I was expecting a little more from them. They seemed to lack a vital spark needed for that style and just sounded a bit too safe and inoffensive. I wanted more grunt and aggression from them. Don’t get me wrong, they certainly played well and the crowd seemed to enjoy it but I was somewhat underwhelmed.
Benediction were up next and my suspicions were finally confirmed that the current singer was the guy from Anaal Nathrakh who I had seen wandering around MDF. In fact now that I look it up he’s been with Benediction for 15 years which shows how much attention I’ve been paying to them. In fact I’ve never been a huge fan of Benediction with Subconcious Terror being the only album I own that I’ve listened to regularly but they were surprisingly good live even if I didn’t know any songs. Part way through Django observed that they sound like Harmony Corruption era Napalm Death and from there on I kept hearing lines from Suffer The Children whenever he sang which was quite amusing. I also noticed at that point that there are a lot of tall people in Portland!
Up next was the godly Bolt Thrower and this ended up being the best set of the whole trip!! Unlike the tent at MDF, I wanted to be able to see the band so I moved forward to a spot right next to the mixing desk (a trick I learned long ago to get the best sound) which was still in the boozing area and slightly raised above the pit. The curtains opened to reveal the huge Bolt Thrower backdrop that was actually too big for the stage and I also noticed that the rack toms on the drumkit were bloody huge and looked like floor toms. They opened with The IVth Crusade and I was stoked that the sound was near perfect and super heavy! I was so happy to be able to hear the killer solos perfectly, thumping drums, throaty vocals and of course the throbbing bass. The crowd unsurprisingly went wild and I coped some shoving as I was near the entrance to the pit area. Thankfully I’ve been to a LOT of gigs and am well versed in the art of allowing the crowd/moshpit to slide past me (even though I’m a fat bastard) while maintaining my position. Tonight the song War Master got a rest and they played Where Next To Conquer instead which was fine by me as it’s my favourite song off The IVth Crusade. From there they played …For Victory, World Eater, Cenotaph and No Guts, No Glory which was an intense section of amazing songs. They also had no time restrictions so we received a full setlist which included the full version of When Cannons Fade as well as the title track of the first album as part of the encore. Even though BT generally only play festivals, they really seemed to be enjoying the cozy conditions and put on a great show. In fact this would rate in my top 10 gigs ever and I think the other Aussies agreed that this was their best performance of the tour.
Apologies to Travis and his date who were standing next to me and probably got whipped a lot by my rapidly thinning hair. As soon as they finished I complimented the sound guy on doing such a fine job and then asked for his setlist which he gave me and is now a treasured possession.
It was pissing rain outside when we left and Ryan and I jumped into a cab and drove to a pub for a few nightcaps. It had actually closed for the night (it was nearly 2am on a Tuesday after all) but my host knows the owner who opened up for us and gave us a few free beers! Yay! The bar was in the process of being refitted and was nearing completion so it was interesting to hear about all the problems and issues and other business aspects even if I was a bit hammered at the time. No idea what beers we had but they were tasty and it was a cool end to an awesome, awesome night.
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