Saturday night brought yet another onslaught of slack-stringed stoner-doom destruction to Miami, courtesy of the bands ASG, Cough, and the shotgun-toting, pot-loving, sludge-metal maniacs of Weedeater. Between the three touring acts and locals Ether and Shroud Eater, the show was a veritable buffet of different stoner-metal subgenres, ranging from painfully slow funeral marches to rocking Kyuss-infused riffage.
Ether kicked things off at 10:45 pm. The Broward County-based outfit proved to be every bit as good as their nationally touring peers, sounding something like the bastard child of Isis and Down. Ether’s heavy passages are extremely heavy, while the psyched-out bits reminded me a bit of Souvlaki-era Slowdive. The package comes together in a very dynamic and interesting way and the “early” crowd at Churchill’s appeared to really dig Ether, donning air guitars during the songs and raising the coveted “beer of approval” between numbers.
Perennial Miami favorite Shroud Eater followed Ether’s set, tearing through a performance of its brand of sludge metal. There is something prehistoric about Shroud Eater’s music. When I hear the band live, I always envision dinosaurs fighting against a backdrop of erupting volcanoes.
Richmond, Virginia’s Cough was the next band to take the stage. Cough opened its set with a volley of sound that hit the audience straight in the chest and traveled through the rest of their bodies as the chord decayed, turning everyone in the room into human tuning forks of death. The sound waves this band creates become an entity of their own, another member of the band. The crowd head-banged in unison, like a small village worshiping their metal god. The droning sound Cough creates is broken up by bassist Parker Chandler’s tortured howls. A highlight of Cough’s set was the wah-wah drenched guitar solo let loose over a beastly groove during the second number. After the set, I spotted Cough’s drummer stumbling outside, visibly disoriented from what I assume was a horrible cocktail of Pabst and “drum-thrash.”
ASG took the stage after an Obituary intermezzo played over the sound system for a solid 30 minutes. Regardless of the back-lined stage, ASG didn’t manage to hit the first chord until 1:45 a.m., typical of a show at Churchill’s. Similarly to the headliner, ASG dresses its stoner-metal in the trappings of southern rock. The groove reigns above all for ASG, and it perked up a crowd that had fallen prey to the fatigue of a late night and a few too many drinks. One fan found his way onto the stage several times throughout ASG’s set, sort of standing there and staring at the band for way too long, then doing an anticlimactic spin-move off-stage.
As we rounded the 2:45 a.m. mark, “Dixie” Dave Collins climbed onstage to release an ungodly loud salvo of sputtering low-end punishment from his Sunn bass amps. The disorienting cocktail of fuzz and feedback rendered my earplugs pointless. The smell of marijuana hung about in the air as Collins stared down the audience. His deranged blue eyes looked ready to fall out of his skull. Collins informed the audience that the band was going to take a communal piss. The group returned to the stage about ten minutes later. Dave Shepherd spun the knob of a once-white Les Paul that had yellowed from years of occupying smoke-laden clubs, and the rafters and support beams of Churchill’s started to vibrate once again. From where I stood at the foot of the stage, my pant legs flapped in the wake of the sound waves coming out of the club’s subwoofers. The second number in the band’s set had the crowd as animated as ever while Collins belched out lyrics in his trademark squawk. Even though the band (“Dixie” Dave in particular) were visibly inebriated to the point of nearly falling down, they managed to play everything perfectly. Collins marched in place as he stared down the crowd. When he sang, his eyes went wide while one of them drifted around independent of where he was looking. At one point in the set, Collins reclined upon his amp stack, attempted to place his cup of whiskey on top of his head, and spilled it all over himself. He requested another cup and continued on with the show. Weedeater pulled its set primarily from its most recent release, Jason … the Dragon, and the crowd seemed to love every minute of it.
– By David Von Bader