Deep South mini-tour day 1: Memphis

Yesterday morning I woke up in the dark and looked at my phone. The clock read 4:44.

My alarm was set for 4:46.

Sometime later we drove through East Texas on the way to Memphis.

As we passed through Arkansas it started raining.

When we crossed the Mississippi River it was dark again.

When we last left Memphis in 2015 it was also dark and raining so this made sense!

I’ve been wanting to come back here ever since because the bands we played with (Xebrula and Seraph/ The Light) were so good; Seraph is one of our all-time favorite tour discoveries. Xebrula seems less active since drummer Rob O’Neal and his wife Kate welcomed their first baby, and Seraph recently played their final show before Ryan O’Neal and Nick Cox moved away. But when a music scene produces bands like this you know it’s a place worth coming back to. So we did.

Thursday, October 25- Lamplighter Lounge (Memphis) with Kroil and Brian Hillhouse

Fortunately our friend Brian Hillhouse, who was the leader in Seraph, is still around and helped us get this show set up along with Robert Rodgers. Thanks guys!

The Lamplighter is a tiny place- one of those storefront bars that stretches back into a small shopping center next to a tattoo parlor, a record store and a nail salon. When we got there it had just opened, but by 8:30 or so it was comfortably full of classic Memphis hipsters- kids with weird haircuts in sweaters and jackets, smoking and laughing.

 

A cozy and friendly place, well-lighted if perhaps not overly clean.

Kroil are a guitar/drums sludge duo with a high ratio of eyeglasses to visible tattoos.

They may not have been the most precise band we’ve ever played with but they had creative heavy riffs and a really positive energy. Their songs sounded to me a little like a turned-up cross between Earth and early (Tweez-era) Slint. Super nice guys too. It seems like they haven’t been around that long but I hope to see more of them soon!

We played second.

MELISSA CONTEMPLATES THE MYSTERIES OF THE SETLIST

Sadly, Jamie was unable to join us for this show due to “not wanting to lose his job” so we rocked as a 3-piece. Probably just as well to have a little less guitar in this small space I guess?

Setlist:

Lurching Away
Welcome to the Adders’ Land
Last of the Green Vial
Blackjaw
Leglifter
Back Office
Tusk Aurora

Sam had to play TWO guitar solos on Tusk Aurora! He’s often noted that he has trouble finding the end of a phrase when soloing and I will say: this is, in fact, true. Extra measures notwithstanding, we got a warm response from the Lamplighter and left the stage (er, floor) smiling after a long day.

Brian closed out the show with a solo set of what I guess I would call shoegaze/drone rock? I find what Brian does interesting because he’s basically a songwriter, but he supports those songs with guitar work that is at the same time aggressive, experimental, and beautiful.

The Lamplighter was the perfect venue for solo electric experimentation like this, and watching Brian there on a chilly, rainy evening approached the platonic ideal of DIY music: an unfettered expression of personal art, in a space that’s made available, with none of the trappings of professionalism. It’s the kind of show that made me fall in love with the form.

In addition to Seraph/The Light, whom I can’t recommend enough, Brian used to be in what I guess you would call a post-metal band called Seraphim. He now plays in another band in that vein called The Animal’s Comfort. I really hope we can play with them someday.

After the show Brian took us to a local spot to eat and we crashed at his place. This morning Sam and I slept until ELEVEN A M. I was really hoping to meet Brian’s little boy but somehow they were still snoozing when we rolled out. I guess we’ll just have to come back. 🙂