Lycus -- Oakland, CA -- July 27th, 2013
This turned out to be one of the more interesting shows I've gone to. Let's start with the venue, The Terminal. The Terminal isn't an actual legitimate venue. It's a place that some cool dudes run out of the down stairs area of their property. The place looked like a pretty big living room, complete with comfy couches, a little table, and a wall of speakers. In typical DIY fashion, the show started almost an hour behind schedule and the place was only full during performances, with most of the people going outside for a smoke break in between the set times, which went pretty long. The show started around 8:50ish with some doom.
The first band up was Cardinal Wyrm. They're a doom three piece from Oakland. Their sound fit somewhere between more traditional doom and stoner doom. They had a really weird shtick as well where they all wore costumes, but only one made sense to me. The guitarist wore a priest outfit, which fit the name, but the drummer was wearing kind of like a hijab or something, and the bassist looked like a mix between Lita Ford and Joan Jett, so the latter two costumes didn't really fit with the band name. But musically they were pretty solid. They hit some awesome jams and the bassist's tone sounded great. The drummer/vocalist used a mix of clean sung vocals and higher pitched screams in the songs. Sometimes it felt like the songs could've ended sooner than they did, but they didn't sound band and had good presence so I was down with it. Overall, it was a good way to start of the show.
The next band was Berkeley "shoegaze" band, Barn Burning. Honestly this set was pretty dreadful. First, their sound was one of the worst excuses for "shoegaze" I've ever heard. It was really clean and polished and had absolutely no grit. There was no wall of sound built. It honestly sounded like a guitar play-a-long book with a little bit of delay and hella much reverb. So they played like one song, then there was like a ten minute delay because of some technical difficulties with the mics, which would continue through out the rest of the night. At this point is well past 10 and we were only one song into the second band of four that night, because one band dropped off, so I knew the show was gonna last a while. After they got the sound issues taken care of, the band kept going with their super boring set that way too long. The songs dragged and there was no depth at all. I don't even think they used half their pedals and only heard some fuzz like once. Super lame band with a name that doesn't even fit their sound at all.
Up next were one of the bands I really came to see, and the only reason I'm really sharing this experience on this site, Lycus. Lycus are a funeral doom band from Oakland and they just dropped their debut album, Tempest. In fact this show was a split CD release show between Lycus and the band Whirr, who we'll get to later. Like the last band, it took a while for them to finally get their sound dialed in because the mics were quite and Lycus didn't really wanna turn down their equipment, but after a bit they finally found a way to get everything fairly audible. They ended up just playing Tempest in it's entirety and it sounded really great. At first the guitars were a bit too loud and the mics caught that and made some higher kind of feedback go on but they dialed that out so from their it was fairly smooth sailing. They had a really crushing live sound and the vocals sounded great live. All the songs sounded really great and well rehearsed and it all transitioned really well to the live environment and I was jammin along pretty hard. I'd definitely be super down to see these dudes again.
Next up were the band I was actually looking most forward to, Whirr. Whirr are a shoegaze band from Oakland and I've recently been digging their discography really hard, especially the EP the just released, Around. Unfortunately though, the set was underwhelming for me. They set up and I hadn't seen their female vocalist anywhere, then they started playing and I realized I wasn't gonna be seeing her at all that night, which was a bummer, because even if the vocals weren't too audible, her vocals are really important part to their sound. Also they were just flat out really loud, which I expected, but since the venue didn't have a proper sound system there were a lot of subtleties you hear on record that were hard to make out during the performance. Like Lycus, Whirr also just played their new release in full, and I can't say I'm surprised, but I would've liked to hear like at least one song from their album, Pipe Dreams, or something. I still enjoyed the material I heard a lot, but I think I kind of set my expectations a little to high, so I was a wee bit underwhelmed. After their set I got their first EP, Distressor on vinyl and asked what was up with the lack of the other vocalist, and apparently she's no longer in the group. Kind of wish I had seen them sooner.
Overall this was an interesting experience with the venue, crowd and stuff like that. I'd definitely be game to check out other shows that happen hear, since they've gotten some awesome bay area acts there like Worm Ouroboros, Dispirit, and other reputable metal acts like Ash Borer and Atriarch.
Cardinal Wyrm: 7/10
Barn Burning: 3.5/10
1/2 Pity Sex/Whirr
4/17 ELECTRIC FUCKING WIZARD