I haven’t been to Bar Le Ritz PDB since it was known as Il Motore. A lot has changed, namely the bar and the stage have switched places. The walls are tri-colored planks of skinny wood. It’s as if someone who was devoid of style designed the interior of a house in the 70s. It’s pretty rad.
A high, piercing feedback started the set for Existe before they kicked into their brand of…post-hardcore doom? It was hammering on chords with hair waving and weird lead licks. It was disco beats over a hellacious drone. The mood changes in their songs would often catch me off guard. They’d trip from major to minor, slightly shifting the iterations of each riff, before catching up with themselves to suck you back in.
During one of their later songs, either “Fleurs Fannèes” or “Surpop,” they left me salivating with a subtle yet stupendous switch between 3/4 and 4/4 time. It was rather brilliant.
I could not get behind singer Cyril’s melodies, however. They were non-existent, something that would haunt me all night, and he did not have the best mic control. Some screams were too close and blasted my ears apart, while many others died amongst the other instruments as he stepped too far back. What he did do was sing with passion and emotion, and you can’t fault someone for that.
Frosthelm were the next band to hit the stage and my-oh-my, Kerry King and Kirk Hammett would’ve been envious at the chops Dakota was ripping. It was fast and precise. It was, note for note, how a eulogy to a guitar god would sound. Not that Dakota was the only one repping hard for the frozen, crystallized asshole of the northern states, (they’re from North Dakota). His tremolo picking synced up perfectly with the double kick of Brian throughout the entire night. It was a treat to watch these two feast off each other’s energy.
Jim’s bass tone rattled my arm hair to attention, even though I was as far away as humanly possible. Except for the perennial bass player head nod, he wasn’t doing anything on stage. It was enough…until he unleashed a hellish barrage of screaming into the mic to complement Tyler’s growls. The crowd obviously agreed. They had packed themselves in front of the stage for the previous band and hadn’t moved since. It’s awesome to see a scene show up early and support all the bands on the bill.
Once the third band Numenorean was ready, the crowd and I were treated to an ambient buildup courtesy of the PA system. I felt like I was waiting to be abducted by aliens. They hit their first chord, and I was greeted to all sorts of chaos. David Horrocks screeched into his mic while playing groovy blast beats. Brandon Lemley hung on to his mic stand, either drunk or spilling with emotion, while bleating hard vocal shots. Byron Lemley stared at his shoes while his frantic fingers found the necessary frets. It was shoegaze black metal. How-in-the-fuck-is-this-a-thing? I don’t think my brain was able to comprehend what was going on.
That night they played their entire EP Home, which was released in June of 2016. The opening track “Home” is a nine-minute beauty and, played live, was pretty cool to see. They didn’t miss a kick or a come-in throughout the whole song. That’s no small feat when your song triples the average length of most others.
By this time, however, my brain was fried from the harsh vocal onslaught and the amps turned up to eleven. While the wall of sound is good sometimes, for me, it’s hard to stomach for four bands straight. Those feelings were something I had to shake off as Ghost Bath was next.
I’m glad I did.
Ghost Bath was everything I wanted to see in a band, straight outta China. The light show, which had been non-existent for the previous bands, was in full swing. The lights popped and exploded, and Ghost Bath took up every inch of the stage with their three, THREE!, guitar players. That’s one whole extra guitar player! They wore eye make-up and Bieber pants. They were a wall of movement backdropped by a wall of sound.
After this show, my ears hurt. I was wearing ear protection, but it didn’t help much. It never does when a battering ram of sound perforates your eardrums. That’s what this show was like. It was an unrelenting assault on your auditory cavities. The visuals, however, could use some work.
Written by Aaron Deck
Photography by Danny Donovan
*edited by Kate Erickson