Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Last night I went to see Fu Manchu and Burning Brides live at The Bowery Ballroom in New York City. This was my second time seeing Fu Manchu, so I knew I was in for a great show. My expectations were exceeded by both bands performances, and the near sold-out crowd was certainly sharing the feeling.
Burning Brides are a three piece band out of Philly, originally comprised of singer/guitarist Dimitri Coats, bassist Melanie Campbell, and drummer Mike Ambs. They released two albums from 2000 to 2004, and both were critically acclaimed. Music magazines were hailing them as the next big garage band. The Brides developed a large, dedicated, and growing fan base due to their constant touring schedule and great live show. Their label, V2, did very little to promote or market the band, and Mike decided to quit. Around that time, Dimitri and Melanie got married, and joined with Pete Beeman as their new drummer. They left V2 Records, and used their own money they had made from touring to finance and release their next effort, 2007's Hang Love. While this move didn't help them to gain any exposure, the album is their best yet, and one of the best CDs of 2007. The Brides developed their sound into a mixture of modern alternative music with Sabbath inspired undertones, and a great sense for hooks. The songs come across as being dark and aggressive, while catchy and accessible at the same time. The band shed their garage sound vibe to become a band that could have easily fit in with the grunge scene of the 90's, without sounding like a rip off. The artists of that time respect and admire Coats, as he has played on albums from both Chris Cornell and Mark Lanegan.
Hang Love is truly an infectious album that is growing on me more with every listen. In preparation for the concert, I listened to the album yesterday while at work, and when it was finished, I started it over immediately without hesitation. They create a rare blend in this era, of heavy guitars that combine with pop-sensibilities without sounding manufactured. With no record label giving any sort of input on their sound, they are making music for themselves, the way they want it to sound. Their efforts paid off, as this album delivers beyond what most can. The first time I listened to them was when Maynard, of Tool, recommended that you support acts such as them, Isis, and Autolux because they don't have the kind of money and support a band like Tool does. I couldn't agree with him more, as Burning Brides deserve to sell hundreds of thousands of copies of this album. Support great music, go pick up this CD!
On to the show! Burning Brides set was made up of mostly songs from Hang Love, which I was glad to hear, and several new songs that they are currently working on for their new album which should be available in a few months. The new songs sounded incredible, almost reminding me of Cave In's best work. The band played with... (gasp!) smiles on their faces. Unheard of in heavy rock, the band actually looked happy to be presenting their music to the fans, and looked as though they really enjoy their band. I personally thought this was great, as I want to know they will continue on making new records and touring for a long time. I know I'll be sure to catch them next time they tour, hopefully headlining, as their set was only about 45 minutes and I would have loved to see them continue playing. They played with great energy and enthusiasm, and it was easy to see why their live show has attracted so many new fans.
Following them was the almighty stage show of Southern California's veteran stoner rockers, Fu Manchu. Formed way back in 1990 by Scott Hill and Brad Davis, they are considered pioneers of the So-Cal desert rock scene that spawned bands like Kyuss, Queens of the Stone Age, and more of their extended family of musicians. With 10 albums and 18 years under their belt, Fu Manchu has come just about as close as possible to perfecting their live shows. Their music, a mix of the thickest fuzz guitar effects known to man, surf rock, punk attitude, and the skater aesthetic is simple and soaring. Songs that deal with space, muscle cars, beards, and whatever else the surfer/stoner culture holds dear have long been staples of their live show, and nothing has changed. Fu Manchu rock out their catalog playing mainly fan favorites that sound like they were made to be played live. With heavy hitting rhythms and some of the most crushing guitar licks possible, Fu Manchu bring the sunny, stoned, swirling atmosphere of the Southern California culture to wherever it is they may be. During the encore, they were playing so loudly and had rocked the crowd so thoroughly that Hill's amp started sparking and crackling as if it were on the verge of exploding. Their live show is one that you must see to believe, and if you can make any of the remaining dates on this tour, I suggest you do so!
P.S. - I took this picture of Fu Manchu's Scott Hill from my camera phone!
Posted by Dan Goldin at 6:18 PM