One of advantages of touring in the eastern US (over the western US, where Omotai has been three times now) is that the drives between shows are much shorter.
The disadvantage is that there are a hell of a lot of people here, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM OWNS A CAR.
So the hardest thing about writing these blog posts is to make them something other than a series of pictures of traffic jams.
Instead here’s a picture of the majestic Susquehanna river. . . taken from the window of a van stuck in a traffic jam.
May 17, 2015: Kung Fu Necktie (Philadelphia) with Night Raids, Mary Todd, Die Choking, and Drones for Queens
Kung Fu Necktie is located on North Front Street in eastern Philadelphia, only a few blocks from the Delaware River.
The SEPTA train tracks run directly over Front Street, giving the street a picturesque urban grittiness that made me feel as if I was in The French Connection (which I am aware was set and filmed in New York, thank you.)
That dude standing outside the club is Evan Madden, who plays drums for Drones for Queens with his brother Shane, works at Kung Fu Necktie and set up the show. I’m not exactly sure of all the details, but I do know from talking to Shane later on that Drones hardly ever play in Philadelphia. They made this date the release party for their new 7″ and we were absolutely thrilled to be a part of it. Evan also let me play on his drumset- always a big honor to be entrusted with someone else’s gear. So all in all both of the Madden brother treated us amazingly, and we’re ever so grateful.
Just figured I’d get that out of the way first, strictly for the sake of variety. Thanks dudes!
Night Raids started us off with a set of warm, buttery grind-crust, baked to perfection by a mystery man in a keffiyeh (or something of that sort) on drums.
The masked man took the very unusual approach of playing his blastbeats with traditional grip (i.e. holding his left stick sideways. Sorta like this dude!
Except WAY MORE BRUTAL! I play with traditional grip in other bands, but I must say the technique does make it difficult to get necessary amount of volume for heavy music. So my tri-cornered hats off to you, my good man, whoever you are! Go listen to Night Raids’ EP!
Brooklyn’s Mary Todd are a very unusual band- I mean, wearing something other than a black t-shirt and black jeans onstage? Where do these guys think they are, Soviet Russia????
LOLOLOL seriously though, the guitar player in this band, Ashley Levine, did some really interesting stuff, and combined with their unorthodox approach to rhythm, it put me in mind of Converge or Pig Destroyer at times. They had that kind of artiness.
I remember late in the set they had a breakdown where their bass player launched into some kind of groove line that reminded me of. . . I don’t know, it was one of those things you can’t quite place. I found these guys very thought-provoking. Judge for yourself!
When you play someone else’s drums, you never know quite what you’re getting into- there are a million little things that you dial in on your on own kit that become open questions on someone else’s. And unfortunately I ran into a little trouble getting situated behind Evan’s kit- unbeknownst to Jamie, who went ahead and launched into Dead before I had my hi-hats mounted. The clutch had some kind of weird quick-release mechanism I had never seen before and I couldn’t figure out how to get it together.
So I jumped off stage and chased Evan down for a hand. Meanwhile Jamie’s up there, CHUN CHUN CHUN CHUN CHUN. . .
Anyway, I got things figured out and it was fine. In fact, as happens sometimes the extra adrenaline propelled us into what may have been our best performance of the tour so far. Setlist:
We stumbled our way offstage to make room for Die Choking– another highly-seeded band name– whose muscular, uncompromising 7-string grindcore reminded me strongly of mid-2000s Houston bands like Insect Warfare.
(I apologize for the decreasing quality of my already-not-really-acceptable photos- at this point the KFN upstairs was downright sultry and my photographic ability was waning, to say nothing of my will to live)
Jamie picked up a t-shirt from these guys, which I believe he intends to make his go-to attire for picking up his daughters from their friends’ birthday parties. Gitcha one!
At long last it was time for Drones For Queens, who capped the night with a set of very tight thrashy hardcore. To be honest my brain was not working that well at this point but I do remember that they rocked.
Evan tore it up behind the kit- DFQ’s music has a lot of deceptively tricky rhythmic stuff in the middle of fast hardcore backbeats, and he took the band through it all with authority.
You can order their new 7″, Practically Weapons, off their Bandcamp page. I snagged it along with their split with Occult 45 for only $10- a sweetheart deal I negotiated from their merch engineers through a little tactic I picked up called “reading the price list.” Those girls never knew what hit ’em!
Despite not having my drums, we loaded what seemed like an impossible amount of equipment down KFN’s treacherously narrow and torturously long staircase, only to discover, with aching bones and heart alike, that we had tripped over ourselves nailing down lodging and had no place to stay. We had resigned ourselves to getting a hotel when Shane stepped in to rescue us. We spent the trip out to his house in the burbs delirious with triumph. Many thanks and much respect to Shane and his better half Krista (sp?) for the crucial save. And once again to Evan and all of the bands in Philly, thanks for a great nightQ
Next up: The Acheron in BKNY!