Venue: The Knitting Factory (New York, NY)
Label: Independent Artist
I was always one of those casual fans of the band Trouble when they were hitting the clubs during their original heyday and I had to admit that while I leaned to the Melodic Power Metal side as a preference, I really enjoyed the crushing Doom riffs that they laid out. I had last caught the band back in 2007 for a show at B.B. King Blues Club where a mostly original lineup was celebrating not only their return but also the remastering of a few of their classic albums on the now defunct Escapi Music label. The short time that had passed from then to now found Trouble to be a band that was down some original members and now dishing out their new music on their own. The show tonight would be at The Knitting Factory in the venues main space and would feature Minsk as their direct support.
Minsk: I had only heard some of the positive buzz about Minsk from some mutual friends in Metal, and based on this I made sure to get into the room early enough to catch their set. The band is signed to Relapse Records and is still touring in support of their sophomore album “The Ritual Fires Of Abandonment” and their sound is a very crushing and atmospheric Doom that was making the walls rumble this evening. They are a four piece outfit whose lead singer Christopher Bennett also handles the synthesizer which truly adds to the ambience of the bands tunes. They would play for about an hour but only deliver four tunes based on their numbers overall length. Their music was being very well received by those in attendance but it was very clear early on that there was a minimal crowd present tonight. Perhaps by the time Trouble was going on there would be a few more bodies in the venue and I would soon know as the band was set to hit the stage very shortly after Minsk was done.
Trouble: As I mentioned earlier, Trouble is now touring with a couple of new members and the first and most drastic news about the band would be the departure of vocalist Eric Wagner. The singer had been replaced by Warrior Soul’s Kory Clarke who had recently rebuilt that band under his lead after some work with NYC’s Dirty Rig. The second change would be on the drum throne where long time skin basher Jeff Olson had chosen to move on as well. His duties would be handled by Mark Lira who worked with Wartell in the band Wet Animal. Like many fans of the Doomsters, I had to say that I was both curious and intrigued with just a dose of stunned at Clarke being the new choice as lead singer. The interesting thing would be to hear just how good or bad Clarke would be at handling the very different vocal style that was done by Wagner in the bands material over the years. The drumming I was not worried about because that can easily be worked out over time by a new player. The band would hit the stage running and were very energetic throughout their set which featured some thirteen songs. A true lucky number for a Doom Metal band to say the least and as they performed they showed that they were tight but there was a very disparate difference in the way that the vocals were coming across. Wagner has a higher register and Clarke’s is now much raspier than it used to be. He can still scream out some of the higher notes, but let’s face it, no one really seems to be able to achieve the soaring notes this many years into their profession. I was finding him working out pretty well, and I think that I was able to accept it a little easier because I was just steadfast in my belief that Wagner was gone and the band had chosen to continue on with someone they felt wanted to do this material in this band. The key important factor was that the Doom riffing would not suffer because we still had both Rick Wartell and Bruce Franklin on guitar dishing those licks out and they never sounded better.
Clarke is a good front man and he seldom stands still during a show and that is a big difference too how Wagner handled the job when it comes down to it. He would also speak to the audience on occasion but when he mentioned how “Plastic Green Head” was a song about money only one person would clap along to the dialogue. I mentioned this because the applause didn’t prove lacking because of disinterest, it was just that there were less than two dozen people at the show and that was definitely making me scratch my head as I wondered where everyone actually was. I knew that the Carcass show had decimated the Nokia Theater about a week ago and we also had Gorgeous Frankenstein tearing it up at B.B. King Blues Club, but let’s face it those audiences are not hitting the Trouble show since one is Goregrind Metal while the other Horror Punk. Opeth was coming up later in the week but again it was a different crowd outside of those folks who attend every show known to man and what I took from it was that many of the folks who might have been here had chosen to pass based on the lineup changes. In my mind that was rather unfortunate because the show was still pretty damned good and now those who merely bypassed the gig because they were unhappy with the bands choice could never see if they were correct in their assessment. I had to say that yes it was different but it was not terrible. My only concern is in the curiosity about Kory remaining in this role with the band now that he is recording and touring regularly with a rebuilt Warrior Soul. A couple of the highlights for me from the Trouble set would be the tracks “Psychotic Reaction” (which seems to be everyone’s favorite) and “At The End Of My Daze” and opener “RIP” for “Rest In Peace”. They would not do “The Misery Shows” and that was a glaring omission for me since its my very favorite track from the band ever but there was still enough to satisfy those who were present just the same.
So to sum it up I would direct the inquisitive Metal fan to the bands official web store to venture into one of their live recordings with Clarke to see if they like it and also for them to check out that smoking CD from Minsk. Trouble has made sure to release a lot of cool stuff on their site so the diehards might really take to some of it. Given that this performance was in the main space of the Knitting Factory, I had wondered if it would have been better to have been done downstairs in the section that they call “The Tap Room”. The wider open space of the main section really made the minimal attendance stand out while in the other space it would have come off as merely “intimate”. Oh well, none of this will matter for at the end of the year the venue is closing down its Manhattan location and moving to Brooklyn. I must admit that I will miss the way that bands were delivered here very much but lucky for me I still have a few shows to attend before the closing date.
Minsk Set list:
1. Ceremony Ek Stasis
2. Horizons Of Fire
3. Requiem in B Minor “From Substance To Silence”
4. Waging War On The Forevers
Trouble Set list:
3. Touch The Sky
4. Plastic Green Head – money, one person claps
5. The Eye
6. Simple Mind Condition
7. Mr. White
9. Going Home
10. At The End Of My Daze
11. Psychotic Reaction
13. All Is Forgiven