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Friday, February 15, 2013

Velvet Sludge

One of the first shows of 2013, sort of booked by me though mostly by Craig Freeman, featured the awesome Rochester band Velvet Elvis.  It seems appropriate to start the first Skull Valley review for 2013 here, even though it is not actually the first post, due to all of the other semi-firsts associated with it.

First up was my band Red Ginger.  This was the first show for R Magnelli/Brad Kline duo, and it wasn't so great.  Originally we were going to feature two other guys playing synths with us, but they seemed to slip out at the first sign (or sine) of trouble.  Apparently there was no mixer, but I'm not so sure of that.  I set up on the floor expecting the synth guys to take up a lot of space due to the Shop's small stage, but Brad couldn't really hear me and it was difficult for me to hear him.  His drums were also significantly quieter than my new set-up featuring the Peavy Bandit plugged into an external Fender 4x12.  We ended up sounding very textural and chaotic, which was partially my intention, but everything started to make more sense by the end.  Next time we'll hopefully have some songs instead of just improvising.  The placement of amps is also an important lesson for me to learn (I am working on it).

 
Another first for tonight was Lost Realms, Craig Freeman's band, who played their first show after a year's worth of practice time and shifting bass players.  It really showed; they were fucking killer.  After bringing out oriental rugs to place their pedals on, Lost Realms took off from the fuzz-scorched Earth into the emptiness of space.  They had a classic sound, super heavy, with raspy/Ozzy-ish vocals.  Things were a little too compressed and controlled for me, but whatever.  I don't know what the songs were about, but apparently they usually involve outer space (think Black Sabbath's "Into the Void").  There could have been more variation in their sounds, and Craig sounded a little nervous in between the songs, but it was only their first show and it was honestly awesome.


Velvet Elvis played third.  They sound like a modern Love-era The Cult, but apparently I don't know enough about sludge.  Velvet Elvis sounds much better live than on their new record In Deep Time; there are soaring highs and despair in the whole thing.  Their vocalist is amazing!  She has all of the cool poses that you would ever want and sounds like Grace Slick.  It is a lot like listening to "Cortez the Killer" for a whole half hour.  Buy their new album here; there are only a few left.  I don't know what I think of the cover; I'm not fond of appropriating Native American imagery, but it seems like it has some amount of weight to it, and the fact that everything is covered in white seems to actually be in support of the same ideas that I am for.  Anyway the music on it is killer.


Carousel came up last; they seemed to be more confident than when I had last seen them.  The frontman had lots of funny banter for everybody, and their songs were really tight.  Carousel has a very classic hard rock sound, Ozzy Osbourne and KISS, with a prominent Pittsburgh influence, though I feel like the latter fact may be somewhat exaggerated for comedic effect.  They were the fastest band here with significant muscle and control, and also, for real, check out that Gibson Explorer!  The vocals combined with the intertwining guitars give most of the songs a dramatic effect.  Seriously these guys fucking rule and you can get their new record at Mind Cure, Soundcat, and some other places.

This night was awesome and very musical, very rocking.  I'd like to go to more shows like this, but I don't think there are a lot of these kinds of things happening very often.  Anyway, again, please check out some of Velvet Elvis' merch and music here and here are some sounds from the show.
 
-Signing off for now

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