- Kris Arnold
Two nights, two clubs, four shows. That was how my weekend went. It all started with the metal show of the still-young year, Mastodon at The Vogue. Valient Thorr thrilled the hardcore metal faithful, Baroness rocked ass, Between the Buried and Me bored and Mastodon just totally melted every brain in the joint.
This is one band that really had no business being at The Vogue. It was so cram-jammed with angry looking white males that to move from front of the house took up the better part of the show, and involved the relentless slow grinding of your junk against the junks of 1,000 males jammed into the passageway.
- Kris Arnold
15-minute druggy-psychedelic metal songs with Stephen Hawking/Russian folklore lyrics, Dimebag guitar and some of Phish's rhythm jams mixed in and sped up was the order of the evening. Baroness' guitarist was filling in for Bill Kelliher and the band hardly missed a beat, as Co-front men Brent Hinds and Troy Sanders stepped up and delivered a powerfully manic set that had literally half the room moshing and half the room in beard-stroking Oh-My-God-I'm-so-high-I-can't-cope-with-how-fucking-awesome-Mastodon-is mode. Good stuff even with all the junk rubbing going on.
We jet down Central Ave. to Radio Radio in time to catch Unknown Hinson. I've wondered about the buzz surrounding him, and within 30 seconds of seeing him I got it. Evil, yet funny. Rocking, yet graceful.
He really set my heart on fire with a great rendition of Alice Cooper's "I'm Eighteen" that morphed into Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile." But the epic barnstorming voyage I'd gone through at Mastodon earlier pretty much made Hinson's set seem like a tame one, even as the packed house was losing their minds and shaking their asses and buying everything they could off his merch table.
The next evening I'm back at the Vogue to see Otis Gibbs and it was a whole 'nother world. The crowd was sparse but attentive. More importantly there was at all times a ten-foot space between my junk and other dude's junk. Johnny Quest was behind the board and Otis never sounded better. "The Town That Killed Kennedy" and "Where Only The Graves Are Real" really sounded good and rich, "The Ballad of Johnny Crooked Tree" was a crowd favorite, as was the story where Cowboy Bob pulled Otis' van out of a snowbank in a blizzard with his horse and then asked if they would get him high.
But the real revelation was when Otis' better half, Amy Lashley, came out and sang along. "Cross Country" and "When I Was Young" really opened up with Lashley adding her sweet harmony. The duo have a record coming out soon, I bet it will be a doozy.
Once again the Central Ave. Express took me back to Radio Radio and a set with old buddies Bigger Than Elvis. I can't stress this enough: BTE may just be the best band in the city. Fucking Period. Tufty is like a steroid-ripped maniac bending his bass strings like they were cheap Sears and Roebuck nylon strings. Cutsinger is the consummate rock star drummer - a show all onto himself. And Big Danny, lordy Big Danny Thompson. I will go on record and say the Danny Thompson is, and will always be bigger than, better than and smarter than any other local wannabe in this city. Fifty Years from now, kids will break out bootleg copies of Love Handles and Old Sloppy Seconds and Hot Rod Nebula stuff and tell all their friends how much better he is than the Cramps (or any other rock band for that matter) ever were.