Last night I had the opportunity to check out Kolyma, Russ De Sena's new band, at Bickett Gallery. Bickett's a great place to hang out -- comfortable atmosphere, cool people, good art (usually) -- but it's just not my favorite place to see live music. The main room is a deep L shape, which means there's really only a small area in which you can actually see the band. The acoustics are too echoey and it's too well-lit (it is a gallery, after all). It truly is too bad that the neighborhood is so down on them having shows outside, where they have a gigantic open yard and a nice stage.
The result is that, even though I saw and heard Kolyma (though not for the entire set), I didn't really get a good feel for them. Before the show, guitarist/singer Crowmeat Bob described their sound as "a French car-wreck" and then said something about a Norse pagan ritual. From what I heard, the car-wreck part is an apt description (not that that's bad). Bob and Russ (best known form his stint in The Chickens) are both talented, creative players who specialize in controlled chaos, some of which was amazing, and some of which went in one ear and out the other. I'd like to hear them in a better-sounding situation, but maybe that would just defeat the purpose.
Without a doubt the most interesting bit was Jennifer Thomas' tortured vocals and manic stage presense. She stomped around, seemingly oblivious to everyone else in the room, collapsed, jumped up, and collapsed again to beat on the floor with a stray drumstick, all the while screaming like a troubled child who hadn't gotten her proper dose of Ritalin.
The opening "band" consisted of two guys creating ominous trance-like soundscapes with a bunch of pedals, a guitar, a lap-steel and a sound-effect toy found at a thrift store. It was cool to hear; deathly boring to watch (though it did go on a little too long for my taste). It would have made a good sound track to some sort of silent black and white sci-fi movie. In fact, it kept reminding me of such created by one of Xopher's friends. I would suggest that they get in touch with Xopher and show that film at their next show, but it already has a soundtrack of its own.
Check out my story on Rob Halford in today's edition of The News & Observer. As a long-time Judas Priest fan, I was honored to get the chance to interview him. He was incredibly friendly and easy to talk to. I told him I got his autograph in 1982 following a show in Greensboro, and he thought that was funny. Actually it kind of made me (and probably him) feel a bit old. He told me he hoped the band's show Tuesday at Ozzfest brought back a lot of good memories. I'll report back and let you know if it does.