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Charles Nickles

Text & Photos by Charles Nickles

I left the Super 8 this morning in search of a sensible breakfast. Some scrambled eggs, maybe with nice side salad. Maybe some melon. You know, something filling but fibrous with vitamins and minerals a body needs to keep itself alive.

But then I found free beer and…well…we ALL know beer and melon don’t mix. Beer and eggs maybe but that’s a little too Lost Weekend for me. Beer and arugula do not a meal make so I opted for a plate of pork shoulder and brisket with a beef rib reserve for the invariable 2am hunger strike.

“Fuckin’ Texas, man,” my new friend says. “That’s just what happens.”


Local boys made doom. They’re fine but I worry that I might be getting too full too fast on the mid tempo barrage because my brain is selectively surrendering all sorts of sensory information to the thick, thick wind.

I do notice that RIPIS seem to yell a lot less than yesterday’s cache of torturously deliberate angry young men which is alternately refreshing and frustratingly soporific because it’s just too goddamn early to wonder if ephedrine and coffee are the answer which, of course, they aren’t (not in this sun) so I bow out of the set for a cigarette and fleeting eye contact with a bleached-buzz tweaker in panties, a-shirt and flip-flops parading the alley behind Barracuda with her right tit defiantly hanging out.




Let’s pretend The Munsens are brothers or cousins or have all adopted the surname out of solidarity for their sonic cause and let’s take this game one step further and imagine they’re taking that cue not from (the) Ramones but from the immortal cinematic goons whose namesake NOMEANSNO borrowed to start a brief side career as a beer/hockey first punk burst YEARS before Two Man Advantage stole my fucking beer at C Squat.

Or let’s not.

Because The Munsens don’t need my referential bullshit to play a heady set of neckbrace amyl nitrate annihilation. They’re doom yeah yeah yeah but they play that trick damn bombastic, like a mudman juking dust and getting off on the glass in his lungs.

I hear they’re from Denver.

I think that makes sense.






Black metal black horde battle worship kitsch. At least, I think its kitsch. I mean, that dude’s rocking a Henry VIII war mask and brandishing a long sword in the middle of the afternoon while their stage is flanked by ram’s skulls and candles and the greasepaint whirr and bash is relentless and I could totally get with the chain mail cocksheath and call unto the abyss as deadpan any day of the week but I need to believe at least one of those motherfuckers is winking because if I don’t get some levity soon I will burn this vile planet to the ground!

So someone, ANYONE please tell me Uruk is more GWAR than Manowar. I mean, Ross is still the boss and all but Oderus…man, Oderus was the coolest.



Okay, now the sets are outside.

Did I mention there was an outside stage at Barracuda? Because there’s an outside stage at Barracuda and today we’ll be alternating between god’s sweet prison breath and AC and right now we’re in the former for Body Void who are unpleasant (as necessary) devotees to the great bloviated bane that is sludge (which I fucking LOOOOOVE) and that’s just aces, baby because when I think sludge I think nightmarish southern rash and feedback howling into the aura of a migraine trying to slip into the uncertainty of the cheapest white drugs available while the world turns and your skull burns and maybe, just maybe, there’s enough tilt in the tremor to keep suicide peripheral but mostly it just resonates too late and you’re left living because that’s what you deserve, you piece of shit.

A long life, alive.

Good luck with that.



Holy SHIT, Betsy Todd would love this fucking band and, I tell ya, Betsy Todd doesn’t love much. I mean, I’ve known her for over a decade and the only things I know she has genuine and unflinching affection for are fishing, cats and Godspell. But recently she discovered MYRKUR and with her the grandiloquent madness of black metal for all of its turgid absurdity but mostly just MYRKUR 

all of its turgid absurdity but mostly just MYRKUR because MYRKUR is some beatifically cryptic shit like elvish porn for the REAL John Dee creeps.

And I know Chrch aren’t black metal but they are metal and I know black metal is all hypnotic whirly-birding riffs and blast beats and symphonies and shit and Chrch go the more classic thud-chug-brrr of doom but they’ve got the spectral ambience of arcane fetishists and their frontwoman is the full grown embodiment of Stevie Nicks’ cocaine witchery without the assholes or siren necessity. She is bold and maudlin and forceful and can peel the skin off your teeth with one screech as she writhes a ghost keener in black lace and red light soliloquy.

Yeah, sure…the band brings it. The band has to. You can’t shore up an eclipse without being able to move a mountain and I do SO wish I could be slinging brews with BT some night at Vitus seeing them for the first time but I guess I’m just gonna have to wait for this SacMo locals to hit the road in earnest.

That girl is gonna FLIP!



Oh, hey Goya. How’s it hangin’?

You wanna get high?

Just kidding. I can’t get high no more and even if I did, the bud in NYC is so fucking complicated these days I’d probably just end up toking some baby aspirin and oregano because how the fuck would I know the difference between a dime of that and…oh, just name a fucking strain.

Hey, you remember when Dimebag Darrell was called Diamond? Can you believe it was as late as Vulgar? Me neither. Funny how life works out like that. One day, you’re some also-ran power-tripping glam freaks, the next you meet some dude named Phil who can do all the appropriate wails but adds some low-hung meat so you take some time doing the same old same but then one day you decide to diversify, get groovy, get pissed and the next day you throw all that kiddie shit out the window for good and deliver a genre-shattering opus that still holds up 25 years later and then drugs, drugs, booze, drugs, black metal, sludge, booze, booze, drugs, number one on the Billboard charts, more drugs, booze, viking metal and then you disappear and come back with a feckless homage to better records and then fuck it, man.

Oh, hey Goya.

Please pardon the interlude.

You’re blister nug heavy is pretty effin’ cool.




You ever seen a cloud rat? They’re fucking huge. They have them at the Bronx Zoo and every time I go I spend WAAAY too long watching those motherfuckers hop from branch to branch in specialized light (they’re nocturnal) just being all big and furry and rad.

I mean, they’re no capybara but capybara is a terrible name for a noise-drenched punk grind band.

Cloudrunner kinda sucks too.

So Cloud Rat is Cloud Rat and Cloud Rat fucking rule, making a joyfully earnest mess of a genre typically relegated to dreadlocked fools. And the folks here LOVE them. They pack in and start the first pit of the festival. They spit love and sweat at the band and the band returns the affection with bombast after bombast of torrential drums, histrionic (albeit dynamic) axe and, perhaps, the most toothsome yowl of the goddamn festival.

They’re so good, in fact, that I’m a little pissed at myself for not having listened to them sooner (or ever, I think) because Cloud Rat is exactly the kind of jam I could’ve used the first few times I had teeth pulled.



I’m pretty sure my mother had a fistula. In fact, I’m reasonably confident she had many. They were never good and they may still linger (and some may be new) but – honestly, often – the many, multi-faceted horrors of my mother’s body are just too much to retain.

A few months ago, she skinned her hand digging the remote out from behind a couch cushion so now she has whatever causes that.

When she told me, I kinda freaked out.

But then it happened again and she was much more cavalier about the incident, skipping over the body horror to express her certainty that the ER RN totally had the hots for her and then the other day a vein in her leg just went “FUCK IT!” and burst her skin open, spraying blood all over her bedroom while she slept.

I found out later that when she saw all the blood, she called my aunt to come help her clean it up which she did and in the morning the two went to church.

I’m still unclear on why that happened to her, exactly.

I wonder if it’s hereditary.




On record, I find Come to Grief almost wholly unlistenable. The sludge is choice, sure. Deep, discordant and astoundingly miserable but there was something about the mix that just made my styes itch and so I tossed them into the pit of referential metal despair and didn’t think much more of them until I was standing in front of their big, bad callous feeling the waves come hard and harder and HARDER and I can only hope I can bring such nautical hell on the day my whole temper turns gray and – when it does – that I have the good fortune to have surrounded myself with such ill-minded seamen.



Today is Bloomsday and though the last time I tried to read Ulysses I threw the book across the room after twelve pages I still try and keep a little place in my heart for the afternoon a myopic Irishmen got a handjob and turned his money shot into a century’s worth of literary tumult.

What can I say? I have a hard-on for difficulty.

And I’m not alone.

This patio is fucking packed full of sun-damaged weirdos, writhing electric in wait for the hate fuck tornado to come level what little sensibilities are left in this day to a fine white powder Jay Randall can hock as the ashes of Steven C. Stewart with the confounding warning “FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY!”

And, of course they do.

It’s fucking Agoraphobic Nosebleed, dude. This band took the ugly American invention of Big Black, stuffed its ass with enough biker meth to kill a Bull Moose and then forced it to learn a new breed of elocution that stripped the nuances of Mamet monologues and replaced them with the an-hero, anon clout of 4Chan.

(and yeah, I know AnB preceded the platform but awful is awful regardless of space time continuum)


Though they remain respectful (compared to the promises I heard before the gig started) which is nice considering AnB’s oeuvre is all violence and vice. Maybe the day’s just gone on too long. Maybe the music’s too fast for crowd killing. Or maybe, just maybe, those manic motherfuckers have created such a singular sound it demands pause for reverent awe which even the most bloodthirsty of speed freaks can appreciate.




Last time I saw Cough was in Brooklyn and it was like 115 degrees and, being that it was a Saturday night, the venue’s outside was packed with petty pretties looking to get laid hard and regrettable and inside was all 10,000 pounds of stolid leather and when the band finally took the stage they choked the place with smoke which just made the whole experience taste like emphysema which is cool, I guess, if slow PSA suffocation is your preferred method of death and yeah the band slayed or whatever but it was so sticky and shitty I just couldn’t give a fuck enough to not bail after four songs and a whiskey for the road.

And though it feels like it might be hotter tonight (it’s never gotten to 115 in NYC if I must come clean) there’s space both on the floor and the stage and that means everything with the new future concrete merchants come slithering in on the back of a dragon to crush your tender skulls in.


Seeing Cough now, I get why folks would give their left one (nut, tit…it’s all grist for the thrill) to see this band play. They’re ten-foot monsters, hammering howl, foregoing the pleasures of hope to forge a brooding, sexless death because who needs action when you can fuck the world?




Full disclosure time…I have never heard Exhorder before tonight. I’d heard the name now and again and I definitely made a note of their existence when they sold out two nights at Vitus in a matter of hours but Vitus boasts a lot of sold-out shows I don’t need to fuck with so I quickly moved on to whatever the fuck I was binging at the time but GODDAMN, man…

Exhorder fucking RUUUUULES!!!!

They’re that good groove thrash, the kind that made you laugh and crush a six pack with your best girl under the bleachers the night before the last day of school not giving a FUUUCK but still knowing the future was out there and so much better than your stupid parents, stupid teachers, stupid friends and their lamb-fisted adherence to society’s archaic rules.

I mean, Exhorder are fucking fun, man.

Hell, they’re a total blast.

A welcome reminder that, for all the genre’s grim fracturing, all you really need to know about going to a metal show you learned from Heavy Metal Parking Lot so get off your ass and come rage.



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