The Lion's Daughter:
Opening band The Lion's Daughter is a sonically impressive St. Louis group whose sound staggers somewhere between the dense, straightforward, neanderthalic anger of Early Graves and the black metal framed extreme accessibility of Deafheaven. I was actually pretty impressed with their set, more so obviously not having any preconceived notion or expectations. Bottom heavy Converge-like hardcore riffs de-evolve into anvil-dragging sludge doom, the whole thing stitched together with bursts of dissonant black metal riffing and percussion. I don't know that much more about these gents, whether they're signed or unsigned or whathaveyou, but I know that their live sound was big and very professional, and also that it was well received given the rest of the more grind-pure bands on the bill. Kudos.
The second act of the evening was Chicago-local Plague Bringer, an industrial/grind band established in 2002 that consists of one lead vocalist, two guitarists, and a drum machine that stands monolithically centered in the foreground like an ominous Mother Brain to it's prominent drones. Once my ears adjusted to the sharp guitar sound driven by the high-treble digital beats behind it (a severe contrast to the low-tone heavy Lion's Daughter before them) I thought to liken them to a much more conservative The Locust. While I admit to never hearing anything they've done in an album format, I'd say that the cuts they served up live on this fine evening painted very much between the lines of most other grind bands that function with a flesh and blood organism behind the kit. In other words there were no 10,000 beats per minute berserker-blasts that would best utilize the advantageousness of a machine helping you to do things with your music that you couldn't do with an aforementioned humanoid pummeling the skins, thus maybe allowing you to paint a bit outside the lines and offer something maybe a bit more edgy - kind of like The Locust! But again, I only experienced a very small amount of Plague Bringer, maybe a bit less than half of their library based on their two album discography, so what do I know really? I'll say god bless to anyone that perseveres in the sound they do for as long as they have and continue to enjoy doing it knowing there will be little to no fame, recognition, or monetary reward to their blood, sweat and tears. And while one member of the band seemed genuinely and refreshingly appreciative and really positive about being there in his between song ramblings and thank you's, I could have done without the lead singer telling the crowd to stop standing around like a bunch of "old ladies". Not that I'm pretentious or offended by any of that kind of shit, because hey - you're a front man I get it - you want to elicit the response in others that the music does in your head, but the crowd will move if your music moves them, plain and simple. It's a bit of a pet peeve of mine I suppose. You want ape shit? Play a show whose headliner has a smaller fan base or start writing different shit. But I hope you get there Plague Bringer for those haven't gotten it yet.
A moment of gratuitous bitching:
By this time in the evening I was beginning to ponder a whole bunch of shit. Am I getting too old for these kinds of shows? Did I want to stay on the floor front and center where I was or not? Is that dude over there really a chick? Is the guy in the electric wheelchair ten feet away from me next to the stage going to be okay when Weekend Nachos starts their set? Most of all, I was thinking about how emotionally and physically draining it is to sit through three opening sets of heavy doom and grind, and how difficult it is not to let it take away from the catharsis that should be in the adrenaline rush of when that headlining act that you came to see blasts into their first song. I get the idea of opening bands, everyone needs that exposure - that chance to play - that chance to allow people who have never heard their music before maybe get a chance in it's truest form - the live setting. But at this point I kind of wished it wouldn't be a whole bunch of more of the same at these shows. Give me some weird fucked up experimental noise bullshit, or a real somber drone thing going on, like the slowest parts of Earth or something. Because three heavy ass doom and grind band sets with grindcore and thrash played in between over the speakers during take down and set up really dulled my senses to what this kind of music is supposed to do in the short controlled burst of time it's supposed to do it. Maybe me and my vagina should have just come a bit later in the evening right? I just think there are a lot of people out there who miss the point, or maybe just don't get out of what this music can give by saturating themselves with it. I guess if everybody in the room thinks you're the asshole except for you it kind of makes you wonder. Or were there others? Never-the-less, despite all of that, getting lost in my own contemplations amongst the growing pungency of the Pig Destroyer signature beer 'Permanent Funeral' and the collective moistness of the crowd surrounding me, when Weekend Nachos hit the stage it all went away and I began to have fun.
Weekend Nachos took to the stage like a breath of fresh air through the carnage of a battlefield. Their energy, and more importantly, the vibe that they themselves seemed just as happy to be there as every flailing body in the pit pumped life back into my shitty and pretentious self. With an almost sardonic grin seemingly tattooed on his face, lead singer John Hoffman playfully stomped, bounded and jumped to the band's bass-heavy brand of sludge and hardcore between whole-body locked muscle spasms of spitting vocals during freight-train heavy blasts of grind. They were a blast.
Just before the headlining set a short 10 minute independent film based on the soliloquized ravings of a love-lorned man gone bent originally penned in the inlet of the Prowler In The Yard album by Pig Destroyer vocalist J.R. Hayes was premiered. It was a well done film and definitely a cool little addition to the evening, but like any movie you've seen that was inferior to the book, you tend to want to forget it after you've seen it, because the version in your own deranged little head is always better. When the flick ended Pig Destroyer took the stage. The impact of their presence was unfortunately slightly diminished by some brief audio hiccups during their first two tracks "Scarlett Hourglass" and "Thumbsucker" by a severely dialed down guitar tone. By the time they got to "Sheet Metal Girl" everything sounded just the way it was supposed to - better in fact with the addition of their new bassist to add to the bottom end. Between songs a visibly frustrated and pained Hayes confessed to the crowd that he had blown his voice out the night before, but it only added to the palpable strain each one of the songs spat forth, making each shriek, yell and bark make Hayes look like a rabid dog trying to barf up it's own lungs. Songs of three or four were bundled into quick buckshots between eerie audio interludes, mostly lifted from the interludes present on the albums themselves - allowing the band (and the crowd) a much needed opportunity to catch their breath as well as multiple build- ups-to-smash-downs through out the show. A live grind multiple orgasm if you will. Pig Destroyer covered the gamut in their onstage onslaught, pulling primarily from their last four releases. 'Cheerleader Corpses', 'Trojan Whore', 'Piss Angel', 'Terrifyer', 'Pretty In Casts', 'Rotten Yellow', 'Heathen Temple', 'Sis', 'The American's Head', 'Baltimore Strangler', 'Eve', and 'The Bug' all made their appearances and then some. The crowd went noticeably bananas for 'Hyper Violet' and 'Starbelly'. 'The Diplomat' was the one song encore - and the inhabitants of Reggie's reacted appropriately as though this was going to be the one last big hoo rah for a very long time, after all it's been a good eight years since the last time Pig Destroyer rolled through the Midwest, who knows when the next time will be. I can knock this one off of my bucketlist. While I would have loved to hear some reworked cuts off of '38 Counts of Battery' with a bassist, and definitely would have maybe shat myself a bit to 'Octagonal Stairway', the night was no less satisfying in their absence. Kudos to Hayes for soldiering through ripped chords, and the rest of the members for taking the time away from their real jobs and families to make their way out this far and giving us all a good dose of it. See you in 2022.
p.s.: The dude in the wheelchair survived just fine.