There seems to be an inherent tardiness bound up in weekends for me; thus, it was nearing 11:00 p.m. as I finally approached The Union for the third and final installment of 2010’s Blackoutfest. As I neared that beloved stretch of sidewalk, the buzz of lubricated chatter coupled with a flood of patrons rushing to suck down cigarettes signaled the end of a set. I hurried to find dear friend and editorial director Jill Mapes, who informed me that the remainder of the evening held naught but two bands in store – apparently, Nebraskan rockers Brimstone Howl were unable to make it. Quite unfortunate, as I was looking forward to hearing from a band that has Flannery O’Connor listed on their MySpace as one of three influences.
Ah well, I shrugged as I ambled towards the bar. I suppose a good band is hard to find.
Thrilled with my pun and trying not to dissolve in self-satisfied giggles that would surely (and deservedly) draw disdain from my fellow show-goers, I readied myself for the onslaught of rock promised by the rearing-to-go Greg Ashley Band.
The Greg Ashley Band has been pounding it out for a good 20 minutes or so now, and have just delved into a 15 minute instrumental track that ultimately commandeers their set. The ability of these fellows to shift from easy, floating, borderline-trippy riffs to throbbing, insistent ROCK with such ease is really quite admirable. Their collective intensity is concentrated in their faces, in the hard knit of a brow and in the rolling beads of sweat. The drummer, who, bucking tradition, has set up his kit front and center, is so intent on his task that it’s a surprise his eyes haven’t bored holes in the skins. His sticks, the ends swaddled and bulbous, never falter.
DEAD MEADOW! DEAD MEADOW! F*CKING DEAD MEADOW!
In a valiant attempt to ensure that all those around him are well aware of who they are about to see, the slightly-swaying fellow in front of me seems to have gotten jammed on repeat. He’s loud, yes, but so cheery – despite the fact that I’m continually having to duck his precariously clutched libation, I find myself joining in on his excitement. After all, it is f*cking Dead Meadow.
By the time the band has finished setting up and the first chord has rung out, The Union is nearly completely obscured by a dense fog. The machine responsible gurgles satisfactorily on stage, continuing to spew its vapor innards as the audience whoops and gropes about wildly. Amidst the haze, Dead Meadow launches into their distinct brand of semi-psychedelic rock.
The band played until 10 minutes 'til closing time, and rarely have I seen The Union so energized. There was a surprising amount of moshing/failed crowd surfing for a band often characterized as “stoner-rock,” but hey, I’ll take that buzzing sort of high energy crowd over a stock-still audience any day. The band greeted the hour with equal enthusiasm, ultimately drawing Blackoutfest XV to a close in a most satisfactory manner.
I meandered downstairs to say goodbye to my scattered-about-the-bar friends before taking off, and as I walked in was greeted by raucous laughter, clinking drinks and the crack of one last game of pool, an overwhelming air of camaraderie and a resounding chorus of Sister Christian by Night Ranger. God, I’m going to miss this place come June.
-Jen Kessler, Managing Editor