Sunday, September 11, 2016

LIVE REVIEW: Cape Ov Bats / Deathmonger A.D. / Horse Drawn / Coastal Plain



Cape Ov Bats / Deathmonger / Horse Drawn / Coastal Plain
September 4th, 2016 - The Storefront

So I’ve only been in Philadelphia for a month, and I should be way better about learning the city’s trolley and train routes. But I was running a little late to a show in the Kensington neighborhood, so I skipped advancing my local transportation education and grabbed an Uber. On the way, the driver – a native Philadelphian – asked why I was heading out to Kensington. “Music?” he incredulously countered to my reply. “Use to be, the only music you heard in Kensington was the rhythm of the gunshots.” That’s his opinion, even before I explain my destination is an unmarked venue known only as The Storefront.

The Storefront feels like someone converted a budget travel agency into a make-shift squatter space then into a venue. That means foam board ceilings bedazzled with Christmas lights and floral couches flanking a coffee table littered with spent beer cans. Despite the David Lynchian setting, I was excited to hear the four bands booked for the DIY show.

Coastal Plain calls themselves “dark metal” and that’s an appropriate but admittedly vague description. The New Jersey trio’s compositions felt like technicolor death metal textured by blackened discord, spacey soul-searching, and tangents into Gorguts weirdness. Their drummer pounded out stark rhythms, doubled over behind the kit with his hair obscuring his face. They let their music speak for them, limiting between-song banter, which really allowed time and space for the progressive compositions to breathe. Will definitely seek out more.

Ohio black/death gravediggers Horse Drawn followed. They overcame early technical issues with the vocal mic to deliver an onslaught of blast beats and Jonny Doyle’s barbed riffs. With or without amplification, Bryce Seditz paced in front of the crowd screaming with full conviction. He was an electric performer, his forehead bruised and scraped from a short tour’s worth of microphone-bashing, channeling G.G. Allin’s venom without all of Allin’s other body fluids. Their four song set absolutely ripped, staying true to the spirit of American black metal without feeling like a cut ‘n’ paste retread. After truncating their Horse Drawn Death Machine moniker, I’m eager to hear the material recorded as they continue the demoing and recording process.

Deathmonger A.D. and Cape Ov Bats closed out the evening, two local crews that share members (who all seemingly have wardrobes of Integrity shirts). Deathmonger A.D.’s shadowy and metallic death punk got the first (tiny) pit of the night stirring, playing to a passionate room of hometown supporters. Cape Ov Bats’ spirited set blended crust and melodic black metal while thrashing in the shadow of death rock. Each band definitely had their own identity, but the overlap between each seemed more obvious because of the tight-knit crowd. I’d love to see both bands on separate bills, preferably in venues where the crowd’s less restrained by the fluorescent-lit surroundings.

All in all, it was a hell ov a night. There was a tangible sense of unity and camaraderie at the show, which ultimately felt more like a social club with music than a music venue. Beers and gear were shared freely, with laughter resonating over the surf rock and luau music blasting over the speakers between sets. I’m still becoming acquainted with the city, and sometimes to really understand the pulse of a music scene you need to knock on the door of a locked storefront and hope it’s the right place to see some bands with a sonic mean streak. I knocked on the right door.

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