Sunday, December 19, 2010

Black Rock Men

My friend and I ventured into the small town of Nazareth last evening to catch the resurrection of one of the Lehigh Valley's best bands: Pearls and Brass. Not that they ever really broke up, I guess. After the release of The Indian Tower, the write up in the New York Times and all they hype, they sorta just stopped playing shows a few years ago. So when it was announced that they would be playing a show in their hometown, it seemed like a no-brainer that my attendance would be mandatory.

It was a frigid evening as we rolled into Nazareth and it was no surprise that the town was pretty much the same as the last time I had been there some ten years ago. The venue was called "The Nowhere Club" at the Christian Springs Hotel and I gotta say, it was a really great place to hold a show. There was a huge stretch of road for parking and the space itself was basically a huge barn with a stage and balcony for sound. So its winter, I'm in a barn with no heat in woods of Pennsylvania to hear some heavy riffs among more beards and flannel shirts than at a lumberjack convention? Sounds good to me.

Entering the venue, we gave our tickets and were asked if we were going to drink. After replying no, we were X'd up, making me feel 17 again. I knew as soon as it happened, a Teen Idles cover shoot would be necessary. I might be an adult, but I'm a minor at heart:

Since we got there a little after 9, we got there just in time to catch the second band, Serpent Throne. Being that it was only a 3 band bill, I felt like kind of a dick for missing Gods and Queens, but when has a show in the Valley ever started on time? I'm no student of Stoner Metal, but I have my basic favs like Sleep, Electric Wizard, etc. Serpent Throne reminded me of a lot of a Stoner Metal jam band. No vocals, but some really good groove parts that noodled their way in and out of some pretty good mid-tempoed songs. Not as fuzzed out and a lot cleaner sounding than I expected them to be. Some of their stage banter cracked me up ("This song is about dying alone in the Arizona desert" or "It's about an astronaut in space watching the world explode"), but overall, I really dug their set. Here's a shot of them, mid song:
Best part of the venue was this dude chilling above the stage. Part of me wanted him to hop down in the middle of Serpent Throne song, grab a mic and add some vocals to one of the songs.
Between bands there was a pretty long wait. Scoping out the room, there was a pretty good mix of people: Old, young, punks, hipsters, norms and everything in between. The lack of heat coupled with the fact I was wearing Vans slipons meant that my feet were nearly iceblocks before the final band took the stage; but if that was my biggest complaint on the night, I'd say it was a great show.

We stood around shot the shit until finally, Pearls and Brass grabbed their instruments and took to the stage. The crowd was hyped, but most did little more than bob around happily to the groove that P&B were laying down. Here's Randy Huth and Josh Martin laying it down.
If somebody was particularly amped, they would do the even more enthusiastic head bob into a bow as if simultaneously digging the riff and paying tribute to the band at the same time.
I was doing it too, because Pearls and Brass are so goddamned good. Playing for about an hour, they played a lot off of The Indian Tower and closed with "The Tower" after a killer version of "Bleeding Hands" off the self titled. Joel Winter provided the vocals:
P&B came back out to do one last song and then at the close of the night it was announced that "Pearls and Brass are back", so I guess you could assume that this was the first of more shows for them. It sounded to me like there was at least one track I hadn't heard before, so the thought of a new record seems like a possibility and not just wishful thinking. I've listened to both albums so many times, but seeing Pearls and Brass live is one thousand times better. The sound is just bigger, louder, heavier and more hypnotic. Once the set was done, we quickly ran to the car and blasted the heat in an attempt to thaw out after the frigid evening in Nazaria.

The most exciting Valley news to me was the fact that The Nowhere Club plans on doing regular shows come summer time. It was a great place to see a show and hopeuflly LV kids will appreciate having such a good venue and not manage to fuck things up. An incredible set at a great venue made for a good, but frosty evening. Somebody should work on a tile, Secret Cutter, Pearls and Brass show at this place to kick off summer.

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