High on Fire, Torche, Kylesa, Slam Dunk
October 11, 2010
The Bluebird Tavern
Bloomington, Indiana

The quiet autumn evening soon erupted into a rage of blood and thunder after an enthusiastic crowd filled the confines of the Bluebird Tavern. In store for the crowd: an evening made undeniably perfect, regardless of the technical difficulties that plagued the show at the start. That unfortunate occurrence was more than compensated for with what followed. Bloomington hardcore act, Slam Dunk (featuring members of Phoenix Bodies and ex-members of Holy Bible and You Hate You) made an attempt to ignite the night’s spectacle, only to be shut down unexpectedly when, as soon as their first crushing note was struck, their set was annihilated by what could be described as equipment failure. It should be said that this band usually does nothing but kick ass without any concern for taking names, and this occurrence should not reflect on their overall ability to slay everyone in site.

Hailing from Savannah, Georgia, Kylesa unleashed their beautifully-blended onslaught of psychedelic sludge riffs and stoner sensibilities upon a welcoming crowd. The dual guitarist/vocalist duties of Philip Cope and Laura Pleasants fell into galloping stride alongside the three-headed rhythm section explosion of drummer duo Carl McGinley and Tyler Newberry, and bassist Corey Barhorst. Selections such as “In Memory” and “Scapegoat” lead those in attendance down an insightful path as to what they should expect of the band’s upcoming release, Spiral Shadow.

While some have referred to Miami, Florida’s Torche as stoner metal or sludge, the band is apparently really good at escaping any true description other than purely amazing. Vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks (formerly of Floor) and his rhythm section cohorts Rick Smith and Jonathan Nunez revved the crowd up full-throttle in an upbeat fashion. The set ran a pretty thorough spectrum of the Torche catalog. From older, sludgy numbers like “Tarpit Carnivore” and “Recluse” to Meanderthal staples “Healer” and “In Return” and selections from the new Songs for Singles EP, Torch maintained a solid, crowd-pleasing pace and proudly carved another notch in their record of killer live achievements.

When Oakland, California’s High on Fire took the stage, the crowd exploded in furious praise. Founder/frontman Matt Pike (of influential doom band, Sleep) and his partners in crime commandeered the stage with the strength of Mars himself. Des Kensel’s drumming prowess provided the blasting percussive death march into glorious oblivion as Pike, drenched in sweat and his hair plastered to his face like glistening snakes, nearly burned the place to the ground with his hellfire-breathing guitar work. Pike’s solos and gravel-throated vocals were also on point this evening, ripping through the room with talons the weak should greatly fear with every breath. Every song the band blazed through was nothing short of a juggernaut of pummeling, doomed-out excellence. “Waste of Tiamat”, “Silver Back”, “Rumors of War”, “Snakes of the Divine” and set highlight “Frost Hammer” were all punishing deathblows to any slivers of doubt that High on Fire would do anything less this evening, than deliver the goods with no remorse whatsoever.

Photos by: Kris Arnold