Venue: Now That's Class
Source: Yours truly
About a year and a half ago, the still-reigning all-time Metalsetlists post champion DethMaiden attended a Jucifer show in (or near) Bloomington, Indiana.
This is what he had to say afterward:
If you know me, you know that Halloween mostly means one thing: free Chipotle. Unfortunately, it means the same thing to most of Bloomington, so I missed the first two bands waiting in line for a burrito. From what I've come to understand, this was no big loss. I arrived at Rhino's and shortly afterwards Push-Pull began playing their brand of indie punk nonsense. It was alright. Then there was Jucifer.
On paper, what I just saw was experimental metal duo Jucifer performing songs that were presumably from their last two records, If Thine Enemy Hunger and L'autrichienne, for about an hour. In reality, what I saw was perhaps the most emotionally raw performance I have ever witnessed.
In reality, I saw a man dressed as Jesus Christ punch his cymbals and drums with bleeding knuckles. I saw him break a drumstick in two and launch it skyward with a maniacal scream. I saw him scream and spit at his wife, pointing his drumsticks at her like weapons meant to kill. I saw him pretend to commit suicide by no fewer than three methods (hanging, throat-cutting, and gunshot to the mouth). I saw in his eyes a combination of evil and anger I'll never be able to forget.
In reality, I saw a woman dressed as Cleopatra perform incantations to the devil with a guitar and a microphone. I saw her slam her body against the floor, against the amplifiers. I saw her crawl around on her hands and knees, unintelligibly humming and yelping, summoning demons with her words. I saw her abuse her instrument and her body simultaneously. Hell, I probably saw God.
In reality, I heard an hour-long ruckus of alternating doom metal dirges and breakneck grindcore passages. I heard two people make more noise than it would seem an army should be capable of making. I heard drums and cymbals crashing into heavily distorted chords from a guitar covered in duct tape. I heard the simplest symphony I'll ever hear, and I won't hear much else for the next few days.
In reality, I witnessed pure sonic evil and beautifully raw human emotion in an hour of unbelievable metal performances put on by a married couple that are either absolutely perfect for each other or will end up in the newspapers as a murder-suicide.
But on paper, I guess it's kind of hard to explain.
...and now that I've finally seen them, I guess my response would be something like, "Yup. Pretty much."
But before I get into the main event of the evening, let me describe a just few things about the walk-up to what ultimately proved to be one of the most unexpectedly interesting nights I've experienced in some time.
First off, not that anybody reading this would have noticed, but this show wasn't in my sig, which means I wasn't planning on attending. I knew about it, but figured I would probably be doing something else that night. Well, the "something else" I was supposed to be doing fell through, and I found myself with an open dance card, so I suggested to my friend that we stop by this show and see what was what.
After paying the door fee and stepping inside Now That's Class
(a little dive bar / venue with a DIY hardcore punk vibe and a half-pipe inside, where I've seen Mouth of the Architect
, Man's Gin
and Bruce Lamont
, among others), I walked by a woman sitting at the bar whom I thought I recognized. Just as I was turning to my buddy to say, "hey, I think that's...", he interrupted me by saying, "hey, isn't that your cousin Ben at the other end of the bar?" Indeed it was, and the woman I had seen was his wife. Thought so.
So after going over to him and exchanging greetings, I found out pretty quickly that the reason he was there that night was that his band was playing the show. Holy shit. Didn't see that one coming. As far as I knew, the last band he was in was called Dana 60 and the Pistol Grips
, and I just figured he was still in that band (or some version of it). Turns out, the band Punching Moses
, whose name I had had on my list of upcoming shows for months, is his current band.
Anyway, we talked for a while, and then he had to excuse himself because he had to go help his comrades get set up. I went over and started talking to his wife, and soon afterward, they started their set.
Basically, they play a motley array of stoner-metal-fused-with-hardcore-fused-with-hillbilly-mayhem. They have two guitar players, a drummer and a vocalist who screams his damn fool head off (that's my cousin
), whether they're playing in stoner mode or hardcore mode (in other words, whether the music calls for it or not). They are decent musicians, but they're entirely unprofessional (these are the frontman's words, not mine). They like to incite mosh pits (in fact, they played on the bar floor instead of the stage in the other room that night, according to Ben, because they "wanted to get right in everybody's face"), and they got one that night, and it was small but violent. They don't give a fuck if you like them or not, and they'll call you names even if you cheer for them. They don't make any apologies for anything - they just shrug and say, "we don't know what to call it, but this is just what we do". They're fucking ridiculous, and that's just fine with them. They play simply to have fun, and in the process, the crowd seemed to love them. Here is their set list:
I Hate Those Fuckin' People
Man In The Sky
Corpses You Eat
The Night Is Forever
You're Nothing To Me
So after Punching Moses
finished abusing the crowd - pretty much to their collective delight - it was time to mosey over into the other half of the bar, where the stage was already set up for Jucifer
(which I've heard since the other night is a process that takes a couple of hours). The room was almost completely dark, except for the faint glow of some indicator lamps on the band's various amps and heads; some spill-over from the lights in the girls' restroom (which you wouldn't know was the for the females unless you'd either been there before or seen someone going in or out, because the door was busted off the hinges and was lying up against the wall outside the room); and a little bit of ambient light from the street outside shining through the front window. What I could see, though, was a stage with a setup much like what is shown in the following pic (only taller), with the cabinets stacked up - literally - to within inches of the ceiling, which was no less than ten feet high:
Now, I had heard that Jucifer
was loud. VERY loud. Plus, I had a pretty good idea that their live show was almost nothing like their album material. I knew that their albums contain a mixture of everything from stoner metal to hardcore punk and from sludge / doom to bubblegum pop-punk, but from what I've been told, their live set is almost strictly doom / drone mixed with random fits of hardcore / thrash.
Still, no amount of advance information could have prepared me for what I saw and heard that night.
As Brad had described previously, their performance was emotional. It was visceral. It was violent. It was almost scary. It was a lot of things, including difficult to describe. I have no idea what they played, and for quite some time, I thought that the band really didn't either. There were a few random times, though, when the drummer / hubby of the duo was taking the lead on vocals, screaming like a banshee from hell into the mic, and I noticed Amber mouthing the words he was screaming - which told me that there were indeed actual songs being played which had some structure to them, but for all intents and purposes their set seemed to be an hour-long improvisational drone / noise piece.
For this reason, I have no set list for their performance. However, trying to sum up what happened that night by virtue of a list of song titles would be pretty much ridiculous anyway, so I'm not disappointed in the least. All I know is that, while the drummer didn't mime any suicide attempts that night as he had in Bloomington, and although Amber resembled Cousin It that night more than Cleopatra (her long hair intentionally covered her face during their entire set), I saw and heard basically the same thing that DethMaiden had seen some seventeen months before...a husband and wife duo whose entire mission in life is to take to the road and abuse the living shit out of the ears of their devoted audience on a nightly basis. It's their religion. It's their calling. It's what makes them tick, and nothing I can think of is more sincere - and real - than that.
...and yeah - it was fucking LOUD
. Really loud. So loud, in fact, that I had to roll up the foam earplugs I brought that night and put them all the way inside my ears - something which I rarely do at shows (I normally wear them half-in and half-out, just enough to cut down on the high-frequency stuff that really causes damage to the inner ears). At one point, I even put my hand on the wall next to me, and I could feel it vibrating slightly. Now that's fucking loud.