"some music was meant to stay underground..."


East Of The Wall Plays the V Club in Huntington, West Virginia

The night ended up being one of those really unexpected good times. I started in a mellow mood, listening to piano albums by Medeski and Mingus all day. The weather was unseasonably warm for a mid-April evening which made me want to be outside, not stuck in bar listening to four heavy metal bands I had never heard of until 1:00 in the morning.

I headed over to the V Club to check at 9pm. To my surprise, All Hail the Yeti, had dropped off the roster which pushed the start time back an hour, which gave me an hour to kill. I passed the time nursing a Corona and chatting up Mr. Duncan, the door man, about the show posters they had on the wall. Jimbo Valentine of Amalgam Unlimited had created a badass poster for the show that night. In retrospect I should have asked for a copy.

Among the Dead was the first band on stage. Among the Dead is a local band from Huntington, a 3-piece plus singer, in their early 20s maybe. The singer had a stubbled head, a beer belly, was wearing camo shorts and nerd glasses. The other three members looked like versions of a skinny jeans advert, all lanky and cropped hair. Their sound was heavy, death metal, with a loose playing style, though the songs stayed together well. The singer alternated belting out deep guttural bellows and sick screeches. The guitar player had some brief sweet spot solos, while the bassist bruised his instrument with interludes on a song or two. The drummer had serious technique with the double bass. The crowd liked these guys. They clapped and whistled and cheered. After their second song someone in the audience yelled, “Can we get more please?” Among the Dead delivered the request and much more.

Nation, the second act of the night, was also a local band from Huntington. They are a 4-piece band plus singer, with a guitarist doing backup vocals. The drummer had the band’s name underneath a mushroom cloud on the kick drum, which was appropriate for him and the band’s blistering sound. At times I thought the drummer was going turn his cymbals inside-out from smashing them so hard. The band had a rough, tight, and cohesive sound. Reminiscent of old school punk-thrash with heavy riffs, they also had some very melodic parts in the songs, with enough of both to keeping the crowd engaged and listening. Most of their songs were short, concise and tight; an entire set of fast hard jabs straight to the head. The singer had an upbeat and positive attitude yelling, “Thanks for coming out on a Thursday night” and “We’re glad you guys are here!” and ending their set with “We’re Nation. Have a great night!” The audience seemed to enjoy their tunes and positive attitude, cheering and clapping for them as they broke down their equipment to make way for the headlining act.

East of the Wall, from New Jersey, was about half way through their headline tour when they came to Huntington. With three guitarists, a bassist, and drummer they were smashed in tight on the stage at the V Club. The drummer, with his little red kit, looked like the drums were sitting in his lap. The band had an insane style and dynamic on stage. The bass player, being about five-six, holding his large instrument, was breathing out demonic growls, while standing next to the six-three guitar player who was crooning out the smooth vocal parts. There was a good diversity of both vocal styles throughout their set, which kept the audience’s ear engaged to the human tone of the songs. While watching the musicians play was nothing short of an eye jarring feat. It seemed the crowd should have been listening to utter noise, with all the members at different finger positions at different times, playing multiple rhythms all at once and still keeping a sound of solidarity. This was both impressive to watch as well as to hear.

Their songs undulated in and out of multi-rhythm parts, and then would break into clean guitar and vocal parts, at no point did the audience know what to expect next. With so many string players on stage there was a grand diversity of tones, from shedding guitar solos, roaring rivers of rhythm, and beating bass interludes. And the smashed in drummer almost never stopped, his sticks touched every piece in the kit during the set. He killed the toms on the opening of one song, never over did it on the double bass or cymbals, just enough of everything at all the right times.

East of the Wall ended their set with a fantastic instrumental from their remastered and reissused "Farmer’s Almanac" album. The audience really enjoyed this band; yelling and cheering and clapping when they finished up the final song. The show had ended, everyone exhausted and buzzed from three hours of heavy metal music. I shuffled home a little after 1am, with my newly purchased East of the Wall album in hand. I wondered how I had not known there were such talented local bands in Huntington. I assured myself I would do this again on a Thursday night or any night for that matter. And I would definitely go see East of the Wall again.

Here's a video from the show that night, courtesy of photographer Christopher Harper. (fair warning: turn your volume down a bit before hitting "play"):

You can check out some photos of headliner East of the Wall in the photo gallery.

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