Wednesday, June 23, 2010

EYEHATEGOD: 6.20.10 Empty Bottle - Chicago

Has it really been almost 10 years? Sometime during the set change it dawned on me that the last time I saw EYEHATEGOD was in October of 2000, in Madison, WI. I remember it well as I was leaving to go to New York with Usurper on the day EHG was playing in Chicago and there was no way I was going to miss them, especially back then.

They played at The Note in Chicago in May of 2005 but life got in the way of that one and I had no idea it would be another five years before they returned.

Back in the late 90’s and well into the early/mid 00’s there was no band for me like EYEHATEGOD. I looked at that band as far more than simply something to listen to, it was a lifestyle. It was pissed, claustrophobic, drunk, drugged, dirty, and negative yet somehow beautiful and therapeutic. It was like listening to a violent storm that destroyed or tried to destroy all in its path. You know what? That also describes myself (minus the beautiful, of course) during those years.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself listening to EHG less and less. This has nothing to do with my musical tastes changing but simply put, it’s like do you ever really need to hear ‘Reign In Blood’ again? It’s a part (or by now should be) of your DNA and for me so are records like ‘Dopesick,’ ‘In The Name of Suffering’ and of course ‘Take As Needed for Pain.’

But with listening to them less and less I prepared for the show by thinking about the band and its music and our conjoined pasts. Would I still get the same charge out of the band? Will the same emotions, the buried and forgotten ones surface once I was in the middle of the mental hurricane swirling in my head? Music is so fucking personal to me, trust me I don’t and shouldn’t be bothered with these thoughts but can’t help it either.

Sucks to be me at times, I agree.

So the Chicago stop of the tour would be somewhat special in nature. EHG would perform their debut album, ‘In The Name of Suffering’ on Saturday and Sunday’s show featured ‘Take As Needed for Pain’ in it’s entirety. Say what you will about the pluses and minuses of bands performing whole records, but if it’s one of your favorite records, it’s a win-win. ‘Take As Needed…’ is my favorite album by the band and I couldn’t wait.

Seeing that Sunday was Father’s Day, kicking it with Maxwel and Lilly beat out Bongripper, The Atlas Moth and the always amazing Yakuza, but I did get there in time to see the ‘Addicts’ era Nachtmystium take the stage. 

I have yet to hear the new album, but even without you could pick out the newer numbers so not having listened to the band in quite some time did little to diminish the vibe. Musically they were tight, the sound was totally them and there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary throughout the duration of their set. The last time I saw the band was in support of Nifelheim a few years ago, so I can’t comment too much in the way of reference, but they were solid as hell.
Visually the band seems to have a see-saw effect where they get some amazing showmanship to sort of counter those a little more lacking. Current session Guitarist Pat Clancy (ex-Corpsevomit) always had a commanding stage presence and it was good to see him on stage banging away with Nacht-leader Blake Judd. I liked the new material and look forward to hearing the full album soon.

After a quick change over the room was filled with the unmistakable squelch of addiction, tropical storms, oil spills, death, despair, dependency and ultimately recovery masked as eardrum bleeding feedback…EYEHATEFUCKIN'GOD was in the building. It took about thirty seconds for me to realize where you were and where you’re at are miles away but what never changes is the MUSIC! 

As soon as they kicked in with “Blank” all was right, all was good. It was great to see the band again. They looked really good, they were really into their performance and they played probably the best I’ve ever seen them. It was also a bit weird to see a relatively calm Mike Williams on stage. Weird in it’s always been a somewhat tradition that no matter where you were at or what you were doing at an EHG show, you HAD to keep an eye on Mike.

You kept on eye on him because you never knew what he would do, say or decide to throw at the crowd. I’ve seen chairs, tables, microphones and various shit laying on the stage used as projectiles over the years. Shit, there were times where he’d just bail from the stage altogether, I mean not come back bail. So to see him absorbed in his art without the usual repercussions was pretty cool. 

The interplay between Guitarists Jim Bower and Brian Patton has always been a unique thing. They don’t operate like a typical guitar team yet the results are as equal as if they did. They deal in slides and dirges and just some of the sickest sounds but when done in unison makes the heaviest even heavier.

The rhythm section made up of Joey LaCaze and Bassist Gary Mader was as solid and pounding as it’s ever been. When you’re playing music as unorthodox as EYEHATEGOD, it’s music channeling through your heart versus your head and the way it comes out is either great or fucking terrible. I like to think I’ve seen both and this was one of the greats.

They played the entire ‘Take As Needed…’ album and at the end threw in a few older songs, maybe “Southern Discomfort”, maybe “Dixie Whisky” not totally sure, by 1:30 AM I was done and I never gave a shit about their song titles anyway! But all seems well in their world and I look forward to seeing what they come up with for their first album in over a decade. As far as this show is concerned, it was a victory. A complete conquering and here’s to the future of the future-less.