Saint Vitus with Weedeater
September 25, 2012
Brooklyn, New York
FUCK THAT WEAK SHIT.
So said one of the t-shirts at the Saint Vitus (the band) merch table. And how apropos, because Saint Vitus is nothing if not wholly heavy-duty and devilishly deep rooted in the original American doom aesthetic, as in they may have just invented the damn thing, or at the very least, expounded and refined the original template Sabbath laid down with such violent beauty back in the day.
Saint Vitus (the club, which is named after the band) is located on the outer banks of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, so we take the G train, which stands for things like, Go Take a Fucking Leap, Get the Fuck Off This Train, Go Fuck Yourself, Gotta Be Kidding Me, Go to Hell, Get Me Outta Here, Give Me a Break, Good Fucking Luck, or just plain Gotcha!
Finally ascending to Manhattan Avenue you feel the slow hipster mission creep setting in that destroyed Williamsburg: Thai restaurants, wine bars, guys with horn-rimmed glasses and unruly beards, etc.
But hey, change is good, right?
So Saint Vitus (the club) has become a sort of mecca for the local metal scene that’s spilling over the five boroughs of New York City like some dark black plague. It’s a den of iniquity where liked-minded metallers congregate and coalesce over cheap beer, loud music and shitty bathrooms.
So that’s cool.
Speaking of cheap beer, we try the Saint Vitus brew, which tastes suspiciously like Bud, so we move on to current favorite and Brooklyn local Sixpoint The Crisp. Unfortunately, this is served in a plastic cup, which brings it down a notch in the beer as culture hierarchy of total enjoyment. But what the hell—all is well at the bar and we didn’t exactly come here to complain, did we?
I’ll have another.
Overheard conversations are of the “awesome shirt, dude/thanks, man” variety. Everyone here is sporting the accepted metal uniform—black t-shirts featuring white silk-screened band logos, the more obscure the better, as in, that dude must be hardcore because I’ve never heard of that band. Not a plain shirt in the house, except for the guy standing by the exit in a screamingly bleached white v-neck, like totally blank, who looks like he just walked in by accident and is looking for the safest way out. Or maybe he’s just bucking trends and pulling a Henry Rollins. (Rollins grew his hair hippie style during his Black Flag days just to piss off the conformists who thought punk was more about the length of your hair than the commitment of your stance.)
I almost wished I’d worn my Yes concert shirt so I could get the “What the hell is the prog guy doing here?” look.
Oh yeah, and there’s the tattoos, which are like, de rigueur in the current hard rock/metal scene. Tattoos have become so ubiquitous and normal, they hold no shock value whatsoever, except maybe for the dude with the D.R.I. logo tattooed on his arm, which is absolute allegiance in a dead serious sort of way.
But hey, the vibe is super cool with zero aggression, just good old-fashioned hard rocking kids looking for an extreme transcendental experience on a Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
Somehow the Sepultura song “Propaganda” comes up in conversation and a moment later the track comes blaring out of the crushed and squealing high frequency sound system, and we decide this is an excellent omen for the evening’s festivities. If Sepultura doesn’t get you in the right frame of mind, center your body and cool buzz your system, you have certainly walked into the wrong place at the wrong time, like the dude in the stark white wife beater.
Dude, is that Rainbow?
And so the music starts…
Weedeater takes the stage and they are immediately trying to tear down whatever is left of normal society and systems of obedience inside the confines of this tiny black and airless space. They are sound torture masters from the great state of North Carolina.
Bassist Dixie Dave Collins is a lean and mean jumpy owlman of the howler-growler type, an erratic pin-cushiony puppet who is cross-eyed and painless. He may remind you of Delos V. Smith Jr., who played Scanlon in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, or he may remind you of a crazed lunatic roaming the outer edges of Notes from Underground. He is swigging Evan Williams bourbon out of a liter bottle, taking long hard pulls, and I wonder how long he’ll be able to keep this up; later in the set, he uses the wall to help him locate his body in the physical universe.
The band is growling and pounding, rumbling hard and low. They blast through Gimme Back My Bullets by Lynyrd Skynyrd and immediately after the song ends some jackass yells out, “play some Skynyrd!”
What’s that, like, post-irony?
Weedeater’s guitarist is wearing an I LOVE N.C. burnt red trucker hat creased in all the right places, and toasting PBR tallboys to the crowd every chance he can. (PBR is an important component of the bearded old crusty metal dude livery, even though it tastes like it was filtered through a dirty tap, left out in the sun to rot, then doused with cold sewage water—it’s that fucking disgusting.)
And let’s just say the drummer is a really big dude with dreads who is a hard-hitting motherfucker.
Fuck yeah Tuesday night!
And so Weedeater comes off as some sort of new Southern Gothic beast of a band, which is all deep dark glory and pure and absolute evil.
And that’s totally freakin’ killer in every possible way.
There is a break in the action as Scott “Wino” Weinrich makes his way to the stage. He carries himself like the elder statesman and underground legend he is and Saint Vitus begins its set with the low-tuned yet explosive “Blessed Night” and it’s as mean as hell.
“I Bleed Black” is a slow burner and the doom blueprint par excellence. Saint Vitus is rendering its original narratives in new tones, updating the old language, rewriting the street slang and casting off any sense of nostalgia or the dead dormant past.
Guitarist Dave Chandler asks “How many people are going to work tomorrow?”
And without waiting for a response he adds, “Go throw up on your boss!”
Wino is slow and essential in his movement, methodical in his gate. He’s schooling the old school as the band rips into the raw and unscripted “The Bleeding Ground.” It’s authentic and untamed and people are blowing bones all around you and the whole bar reeks like one massive ancient weed forest and the long-haired and evil-bearded riffs just keep coming. In fact, there’s such an onslaught of thick and heavy tonnage coming off the stage that the crowd has to lean back into the sound.
Towards the end of the set, Wino joins the crowd. He’s watching the band tear some shit up, somebody hands him a bottle of Stella and he obliges by hounding down a large swig.
“Dying Inside” is pure unadulterated death. It’s the final word on the subject for all time.
Wino shouts “Fuck society!” after the dying notes of “Born Too Late.” It’s a fitting salutation to a night dedicated to celebrating community and giving the mighty middle finger to the squares and the uptight button-ups just beyond the walls of Saint Vitus.
Fuck that weak shit…
I Bleed Black
War Is Our Destiny
Let Them Fall
The Bleeding Ground
The Waste of Time
Born Too Late
Photographs by the Rock File