Tuesday, March 30, 2010

U.S. Christmas / Caltrop at The Nightlight - 1/22/2010


U.S. Christmas

with Caltrop
The Nightlight
1/22/2010

Sometimes a band has to wander down out of the mist of the hills and perform for the fanciful folks of the city. Such was the case with U.S. Christmas, a band based out of Marion, a small town up near Asheville at the foot of the Blue Ridge mountains. I know this town well, as my mom lives there...the idea that any music of quality could come out of that hamlet of insular goofs should be a surprise to anyone who has ever been there. And I know the band well, or at least the singer/guitarist Nathan Hall - we grew up together and have remained fairly close since high school. I could now make some caveat about about being fair and balanced in my reporting on the band despite my personal connections, but fuck it...it's my stupid website and I can be as unbalanced as I'd like.

This was my first time seeing USX with their "new" line-up - the only holdovers from the old band is Nate and guitarist Matt. The group has now swollen to seven members, including two drummers and a violinist, and in my opinion they sound much, much better now. They were a good band before, but they seem so much tighter now, these new members much more accomplished musicians. And what the hell, I just love bands with two drummers.

There was a nice crowd on hand - not packed, but certainly full. Earlier in the week they received a big write-up in the Independent, which I'm sure helped the cause. It also didn't hurt that they were playing with local rock icons Caltrop. But the crowd gathered, Nate took off his shirt as per usual, and the rock began. There were songs from their full length on Neurot "Eat The Low Dogs", there were songs I didn't recognize...fast songs, slow songs, grind you up and spit on you songs. I've long struggled to describe this band, and the closest I've ever come Neil Young circa the "Dead Man Soundtrack" fronting Hawkwind and playing covers of early "Umma Gumma" era Pink Floyd songs. Yes, I know how preposterous that sounds, and I don't care. It was awesome, they were awesome, and if they ever decide to make it down to the Triangle again, go see them rock your cock out and subsequently off.

Between helping the lads load out their 18 metric tons of equipment, I caught the bulk of Caltrop's set. They had two drummers as well (for those keeping count at home, that is four drummers for two bands, drastically throwing off the drummer ratio), lending a very strong backline to some pretty stellar stoner/sludge metal. These local kids were much more "straight-forward" in their rocking than U.S. Christmas, but just as enjoyable in a slightly different way. This is music you can literally bang your head to, and then wake up the next morning wondering why your neck is so sore and then remembering that you're in your mid-thirties and too old to hesh out for an entire evening.

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