With the time change, we showed up in Memphis extra early- in time to eat at Tops BBQ (Southeastern style! Sweet tea!), load in, pound a couple Yuenglings (official/unofficial beer of the Omotai 2015 East Coast Tour!) and chill for a good long time before the show started.
We also had time to read on the Internet about 1,000 homes in the central Texas town of Wimberley being swept away by the Blanco river, get pounded by a line of storms ourselves, and wonder anxiously about what would be waiting for us when we got home.
May 24, 2015: Crosstown Arts (Memphis) with Xebrula and Seraph/ The Light
Blair Davis, a local DIY promoter and drummer for the band Neev, set up this show for us at an art space called Crosstown Arts. Hanging out with Nick and Ryan from Seraph out front I was reminded of olden times at Fire Station #3, Lawndale Art Center and other places where I used to hang out in college. It was a good feeling.
Crosstown Arts is in the same development as a bar called the Hi-Tone, where the Portland doom band Usnea was supposed to play. Sam’s other band Defending the Kingdom was due to open for them back in Houston on the 26th, so we were looking forward to saying what’s up- but come to find out, they had cancelled their show, and the Hi-Tone had no music at all.
More for us.
Xebrula‘s set was a little slow getting started due to a misbehaving foot switch. You’ll notice a familiar Skyhammer in the background here.
These guys played extremely complicated instrumental math-rock with metal inflections. (Ready for a Houston deep cut? They reminded me a little of Calculus.) Drummer Rob O’Neal put on the best performance I saw the whole tour, getting around the kit with unreal facility and surprising power and sounding crisp and fantastic while doing it. Absolutely stunning. Go listen to their demo, but be aware it doesn’t quite compare to watching them.
Rob also plays in Reserving Dirtnaps, a pretty solid Entombed-style metalcore band.
Seraph/ The Light, who have also gone by various other names including Seraphimm and simply Seraph, were probably the band I was most looking forward to from the whole tour. Their record Stages of Fading Away is a titanic piece of post-hardcore/emo/sludge.
They did not disappoint.
Seraph is the sort of thing you can find in a place where people are creative, but nobody much is paying attention: a band comprised of real personalities, with a unique perspective, and the time to put it together into something fully realized.
As good as their record is, they completely blew me away live. I understand they’re planning to make another LP this summer; for right now, everyone who likes, say, Fugazi, or Sunny Day Real Estate, or At The Drive-In (or even the last couple Baroness records) needs to go buy Stages of Fading Away RIGHT NOW.
Side note #1: Seraph’s drummer, Ryan O’Neal, is Rob’s brother, which must be a really fucking tough thing to live up to cause that guy is nuts. Damn if Ryan doesn’t take a pretty good run at it though in his own way- he has great feel and tone and fits with his band beautifully.
Side note #2: I understand that Seraph’s bassist and lead singer Nick Cox was briefly a member of Purist, who put out an unbelievably badass EP in 2013 and almost immediately went on hiatus. If you like Kowloon Walled City or that sort of thing, go dig on that. And tell them to get back together so we can play with them next time we’re in Memphis.
Because we’ll definitely be back.
Huge thanks to Blair, Brian and everyone else from Seraph, Rob and Philip from Xebrula, and everybody who came out to make this one of the most purely fun and cathartic shows of the whole tour.
For some reason we thought it would be a good idea to drive the 9 hours back to Houston immediately after playing. SPOILER ALERT: it wasn’t. We made it home unscathed nonetheless- only to watch Austin and then Houston get mercilessly swamped 12 hours later.
Nature is a mother.