Jucifer Shocks And Awes New Orleans
Band Photo: Jucifer (?)
The mood at Siberia was a lively one, even though it was a rainy, humid Wednesday night. As I stood outside, I stared at Jucifer’s RV and thought about how the heaviest Southern duo could live on the road for over a decade. Maybe the droning sound of their music reflected the droning sound of the road under their wheels. Maybe the crashes of the cymbals were the potholes and bumps they encountered. Whatever it was like in there, I was glad that that RV was in the ragged streets of New Orleans tonight, sitting silently under the orange streetlights while bicyclists, cops cars, and empty Mardi Gras floats from earlier parades passed it by. Things would not be silent for much longer.
Solid Giant is not shy about promotion. You can find their emblematic stickers with a white, leafless tree on a black background all over town, more than any other sticker, I think. But even with that heavy promotion, I had never seen them play. They set up in the spot where Jucifer had played last year; along the long wall facing the bar. With their ethos of heavy promotion, this was the first night in a three-night city-wide tour, playing with Red Shield and Mars the next night and with The Mystic Krewe of Clearlight, featuring Ross Karpelman and Jimmy Bower, just in time for Mardi Gras weekend. And, before they played, guitarist/vocalist Jason Maserole announced they wanted the bar patrons to take their shirts and stickers for free.The two had a great chemistry together; they had that rhythm that was driven by feel and soul more than exact timing. Jason’s voice tore into the groove with a furious power and his feedback doom riffs, low and slow, blared through a guitar stack split to a 8 x 12 bass rig. Jason’s arrangements are reminiscent of Isis’s earlier efforts. Mike Nick felt every bit of Jason’s music and played along with a more bluesy feel rather than focusing on perfect timing. This band brings back the trance quality and appeal to this style of metal, leaving room for epic changes, and still keeping the audience eating out of their hands at every note and drum hit. When everyone tries to mimic eyehategod, and fail trying, these guys take slow southern metal to a new direction and pay perfect homage to the tradition while adding a new dimension creatively.
Housecore Records artist Ponykiller has had a busy 2011; a full tour with the notorious supergroup Down, a full length debut release titled “The Wilderness,” and playing shows with artists like Jello Biaffra and performing at SXSW. But this year, Ponykiller had not playing as regularly. They transformed into a three-piece bringing the lineup to drummer Tim Nolan, vocalist and guitarist Collin Yeo, and newcomer bassist Mike Ledet. Tim says about Mike: “He makes up for the loss of two members in one. He’s hungry.” They also played in Jucifer’s former spot on the floor surrounded by their friends who had wanted to hear this new incarnation of an old favorite. But something changed with this lineup; the sound tonight is more aggressive, intense, and active then previous shows. The band seemed more comfortable, and had a great time re-inventing the songs they have forged into their own hybrid style of rock, surf, dark wave, psychedelic, post punk and beyond. The dramatic points really came to a crescendo of madness that provided an incredible juxtaposition for the more jam influenced interludes. It seems Ponykiller has grown and begun a new chapter in their sound and their abilities as writers.
Jucifer did not set up their gigantic, antiquated equipment along the wall of the bar this time around. The set-up was packed on the stage with some pieces over-lapping because the bar can soundproof a bit better with the sound going through the back wall instead of through the side wall. The staff regaled show-goers with stories of how the napkin holders and drinks vibrated so much that they moved across the bar the last time Jucifer came. Too much time passed as Edgar and a caped and hooded Amber set up the light show and minutely twisted knobs and turned buttons on and off. I knew showtime was soon when Amber finally dropped the black cape to the floor, still hiding her face behind her hair, and the dramatic upward lighting illuminated the white wall of amps. A floor rumbling note slowly oozed like through the concrete, into your feet, up your legs and into your chest where your heart had no other choice but to mimic it. Amber strummed a heavy note of distortion then flew backwards, her head nearly reaching the floor. Edgar refrained for several such notes as he became intoxicated from them. Finally he crashed the drums to add some punctuation to Amber’s ear-numbing drone. He would stand, jump, and with his full force, fall on to the cymbals. He then sat playing the drums with his head looking towards the ceiling and his eyes rolled backwards. Both of them look possessed; Amber with her inhuman growls and contortionist backbends and Edgar seeming not to be on this Earth, let alone at Siberia. The crowd, rowdy before, was both stunned and filled with liveliness. They stared wide-eyed and in awe at the spectacle on stage as they swayed and occasionally pushed those next to them in an attempt to release just some of the bursting energy within them. There were seemingly no individual songs, just one long, maddening song with pauses that included droning notes bashing your already ringing ears. When Jucifer decided to let go of their grip on the audience, it seemed like they were lost for a few minutes and needed to regain their footing before expressing their love for the band and heading home. However, most won’t be able to leave the show for hours or days; their ears still had the numbing drone within them.
This show in the middle of the work week was one of the most powerful and draining I’ve seen. The combination of Solid Giant, Ponykiller, and the ever-astounding Jucifer was lethal. And I can’t wait to see them all again.
Emily is an avid supporter of the New Orleans scene, often filming shows and conducting interviews with local bands to help promote their music. She also runs her own site dedicated to the New Orleans scene, Crescent City Chaos.
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