Last Thursday we were very honored to hit the Satellite Bar again (not so hard this time hopefully) and play host this week to a couple of excellent touring bands both making their Houston debut.
IN THIS CORNER, West Coast Warriors, Rip City’s* HUMAN! OTTOMAAAAN!
AND IN THIS CORNER, representing the Atlantic Seaboard, from lean, mean, Richmond, Virginia, the U! S! BASTAAAAARDS!
OK, enough of this nonsense.
May 5, 2016: The Satellite Bar (Houston) with Vulgarnaut, Human Ottoman and U.S. Bastards
Gino and the boys in Vulgarnaut graciously stepped in late in the game to start the show after the original openers had to drop off.
These guys have been doing a lot of shows recently and also recently dropped their first demo. Perhaps it was simply the volume talking, but I found their long, elemental stoner jams infectious. In particular, I enjoyed watching their singer, who spent maybe 5 of the set’s 40 minutes on the mic and the rest bobbing his head in a relaxed manner at the front of the stage. It’s chill man!
NOT SO CHILL was Human Ottoman. Based strictly on their instrumentation (cello, vibraphone, and drumset), we were pretty sure they were going to be interesting. But I don’t think anyone was prepared for how authoritative their set would prove.
Of course there were the flashy techniques you might expect, like vibraphonist Grayson Fiske playing with four mallets, or drummer Susan Lucia wielding two drumsticks in one hand:
Or Fiske hitting the keys with not one but TWO violin bows:
TWO BOWS! What is this crazy motherfucker thinking!!!
There was a lot of this happening:
The two-bows thing sounded incredible by the way. Fiske and cellist Matt Cartmill had their instruments running through loopers and banks of effects, creating thick, unexpected textures and shockingly heavy riffs while Lucia shredded through odd times and crushing beats. It was intense.
They closed their set with a cover of “Raining Blood;” let’s be real, it’s not uncommon for Omotai to get out-metalled at a show but it’s not usually by a band with a dang cello player.
We all** came away with the understanding that this was a band with a genuine and unique vision of what they wanted their music to be and how they were going to execute it.
Meanwhile, U.S. Bastards are nothing but a TOTALLY KICK ASS ROCK BAND
These guys had something of a rough night- they drove over a nail on the way in and didn’t manage to get their tire fixed until just before the show started. I would say they brought their frustration onstage and let it fuel their performance, but honestly I doubt U.S. Bastards ever give less than 100% onstage. It was clear to me that that is just who they are: they live to play.
What was especially impressive was their positive attitude- playing a small show after dealing with a busted vehicle, frontman Brent Purgason still had it in him to make jokes and banter with the audience from the stage. It’s not easy to stay “on” in that situation and it deserves a lot of respect.
These two bands were really different but I think they exemplify some of the best things about independent music in the United States- the attitude, vision, drive and confidence that fuel the best rock and roll in the world. Seeing bands like these give all-out performances in places they’ve never been before is the reason I got into underground music in the first place and I’m utterly thankful every time I get to experience it anew.
U.S. Bastards just wrapped their tour, but you can get their record here.
Oh yeah, also Omotai played! They let me sing onstage for the first time and nobody died. We tried out some new material too. Setlist:
The Savage Sky
Welcome to the Adders’ Land
Gall Stone (first performance)
A Maiden Nerve (first performance)
Thanks everyone. Next show is Thursday, May 5 with Eagle Claw and Torche at Rudyard’s!
*Eugene actually but who’s counting
**Except Sam, who was asleep in his car