It's the moments I spend reflecting over whether or not I've suffered hearing damage (Or perhaps more accurately, how much hearing damage I've suffered) whilst eating a midnight bowl of beans that I really get to feel the joy of a good show sink in. Tonight is one such a night, with three great bands who obliterated my favorite Philly venue, The Union Transfer, a gorgeous spot to host bands as heavy as these three, This was one of those nights that had a sense of ominous power that will live in infamy in my mind.
First up were Brothers of the Sonic Cloth who, despite their name, are actually half female. They unleash the kind of aural punishment that leaves you beating your chest and letting your hair fly. Their uniquely grungy side and rather ohmic vocals are fascinating. It represents an incredible depth to the sound that requires a lot of time to truly pick apart. What Brothers of the Sonic Cloth are doing is strangely meditative and in many ways transcendent. It is the sort of rock and roll we need to carry the genre forward. Fronted by a true buddhavista Brothers of the Sonic Cloth are turned on to the inner peace that this music has and when you watch them turn it up and let loose... you can't help but fall in love.
Sumac are truly fascinating to me. Featuring members of Russian Circles and Isis (Who I guess can't really tour anymore...) these guys are, as a friend of mine put it, sort of like a doom metal Grateful Dead. The songwriting is great and the jamming is even better. Furthermore, Sumac use a lot of interesting ambient sounds and experimental noises to help keep the tracks unique and fresh. While not as heavy as their peers on the bill, they still managed to put together a really tight set that fused several core ideas of doom metal and made me curious to see them live again. The organic power of the music is something you can't deny and Sumac fully understand the potency that their fundamental band concept can have.
And at last it was time for the almighty Neurosis. It was my third time seeing these sludge lords and this time was almost certainly the best. This is one of the rare bands who have managed to impact an entire scene, and as you dig deep into what they do their live ritual becomes all the more entrancing. With all four dudes on the front of the stage providing vocals and the songwriting as organic and vibrant as ever it's impossible to forget that Neurosis remain the original heavy gods. Sure Sabbath and Amebix predate them, but honestly, on nights like tonight, fuck it. Neurosis have been around for 30 years - they should get some credit! What I'm trying to say is that watching Neurosis live is a sonic journey and their closing moments are the perfect come down for the musical psychonaut. These guys understand the power of what they do, and when you watch them unleash it on the stage you realize that heavy music will never die.
Now my bowl of beans is done, and I've come to the conclusion that the hearing damage probably isn't too bad. (I wore earplugs to this show, but I'm not sure I recovered from a previous concert where I forget them) The point being - heavy music is part of why so many people who attended the Union Transfer tonight are still alive. Without heavy music providing the sound of liberation... what more would we be able to do? Nights like these give us motivation to carry on, and I'm not just writing like this because I listened to My Chemical Romance on the way home. I believe in rock and roll, but do you?
Find the bands on Facebook!
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Brothers-of-the-Sonic-Cloth/63586406187?fref=ts