Noise Pollution #32: Goodbye, Home

Published: February 08, 2024

For a variety of reasons I was, for once, happy to skip into January this year. My life has become a fucking mess, especially towards the end of the holidays, and it just felt like the sooner I put Andy Williams and orange clove scents in the rearview, the clearer my head would be. Doesn’t always work that way, but I’m giving it a shot because I don’t have too many other options that don’t involve faking my own death and moving to Alaska to, I dunno, go into logging or some shit. 

I rang in the new year consoling my daughter because the new neighborhood we live in lights off fireworks like they’re combating airborne ghosts (or liberals, my new area is very red state-y). She doesn’t remember that when we lived in the city midnight was met with actual gunfire and that daddy would have to drive carefully out of the neighborhood as not to run over fucking shell casings and popping a tire. That whole part of town is now gentrified, except my old block. Mail occasionally gets sent to my old place and I have to wander over, under the cover of darkness, and retrieve it. For whatever reason, the old place hasn’t been rented out. I’m sure this part of my memoir will be the paragraph singled out for my entry into the Arts and Letters or whatever.

I had teased a while ago that I would go back into the exciting story of Krieg’s return to stage and the good laughs and fun times we all shared, and that’s still what this is going to be, sort of. But it also coincides with a bit of a eulogy, as all good things seem to once you hit a certain age. We’ll get to that in a bit. Since I have no actual records I’m writing about this time I’ll pepper it with some shit I’ve been bothering my cats with.

I went back to see where I ended this tale  and realized that, even though it’s been only two months, the whole excursion feels like a lifetime ago. I decided to rent a car so that my child and her mother were not without a vehicle while I was gone and while I was in a Lyft on the way there I had the unbelievably terrific luck of having a driver who both smelled like a cushion that has held the ghosts of a thousand farts until they could no longer be contained and that also wouldn’t shut the fuck up the entire ride. Oddly enough, I have this luck every time I ride a rideshare. I guess I’m just blessed. She let me know that she was “fired” from Uber (something I didn’t know was a possibility considering some of the fucking deathtraps I’ve ridden in) because they suspected she would drive drunk. Now I didn’t want to pry but I Sherlock Holmes’d that it was probably because passengers could smell it over the lingering presence of the inside of someone’s digestive track, the La Croix of shit. She then let me know that her brakes didn’t work, which she thought was just the height of comedy. I felt like this was a bad omen but that if I died it would help record sales and I’m sure the band could easily replace me.

I’ll be writing about this one in full in February. I know you love foreshadowing.

Our first show was at the Kingsland in Brooklyn, a venue I had never played at but was assured by half a dozen people who didn’t go to the show anyway that it was a shitty venue, the “worst” in the city but they would begrudgingly come anyway. The Kingsland is half venue, half pizza place, with the bathroom from “Trainspotting” and, as was foretold, no green room. Honestly, I’ve played way worse just from my initial impression of the place and the staff were excellent. Maybe this would go off without a hitch? 

As people started filtering in I realized the mistake of booking a show the same night as Botch’s reunion thing and some psych fest at Saint Vitus and that I probably misjudged how cool of a band we were. There was one kid in a Krieg shirt that Coldworld VIntage had done for us and when I told him I thought his shirt sucked he told me to fuck off, he didn’t care about the band and that it was because of who made it. It was at that point I started feeling something in my gut. The first band up was Satanism, a creatively named local band that do the Venom/Midnight thing, complete with alcoholic arrogance and showmanship. They have a demo that just came out a few weeks back if that’s your sort of thing. For what they do they certainly don’t seem like a new band with kids less than 25 in it.

As I’ve said before, The Oracle, a one man ambient/noise/synth project, was a last minute fill in, hitting me up on Instagram and offering to drive out from New England. I wasn’t aware of the project beforehand, though I was familiar with Revenant Marquis’ “Milk Teeth” which he played drums on. I will say after this performance I became a fan, holy shit. Dressed in a priest’s robe, The Oracle surrounded himself with synths, processors and all kinds of shit and went to work creating a suffocating, dark ritualistic atmosphere. Tangerine Dream meets Lustmord kind of shit. The only performance I’ve seen live that was at all similar, maybe not sonically but in atmosphere, was when Havohej played fucking Dingbatz in 2007 or 8 or something, I was doing a lot of drugs then. 

Forest Thrall, also a band I wasn’t incredibly familiar with before they reached out about the show, were next. You might have seen their Amidst Pines record in my top of the year list here or elsewhere, with good reason. Apparently, judging by the crowd’s reaction, I wasn’t the only convert in the crowd. New England seems to be fertile grounds for some of the most interesting and, dare I say, exciting bands in American black metal. Forest Thrall should not be slept on.

So it was our time to go and do whatever the fuck it is we do, for the first time in six years. I used to go pretty numb during shows, not like I stopped feeling our music, but that I would ignore everything around me and concentrate on the moment. Would I forget how? It’d be a minute and I was now a fucking middle aged man. From the cymbal count in, that nervousness vanished. It was back to what I felt natural doing. But I still noticed that feeling in my gut and started to ascertain it wasn’t butterflies in my stomach. Three songs from ending the set I began to cramp up, and a new fear entered my mind: publicly shitting myself on stage during our “comeback” show. The amount of willpower and rectal discipline (you’re welcome) it took to overcome this was immense and finally as our last song was in the process of ringing out I could take no more and ran off the stage, barreling into the crowd in what, I hope, looked like a dramatic reaction to the music but the actuality was I was trying to figure out how to quickly take a bullet belt off in a bathroom that hadn’t been cleaned since before the neighborhood became too expensive to live in. It also lacked a lock. About twenty minutes later I reemerged to find the place mostly cleared out, with our merch guy grinning because, despite it only being less than 100 people, the majority of them bought something. I squared up with the venue staff (should mention at this time the promoter never actually showed) and got a check for the night and we were off into the darkness to try to find a hotel in Connecticut that wasn’t a previous crime scene.

Next evening was Providence, Rhode Island at Dusk. Dusk has felt like home since the first time we played, at the “Something Bloody” fest in 2013. I already loved the city, having played and recorded at Machines with Magnets a few times since 2009 and played possibly the worst show I’ve ever experienced with my old doom band, March into the Sea, sometime in 2006. Pair that with Armageddon Shop tying with Sit and Spin in Philly as my favorite record store in the country, there’s just a lot I enjoy up there. 

Dusk is just a special place. It’s one of the venues I chose for the tenth anniversary of The Black House to perform the album in full, a place where I’ve made some questionable decisions as well as some incredible conversations with friends I don’t get to see often enough. Danielle, the booker and bartender, has always treated us very well, even letting us stay at her place after our last time there, December 2014. She didn’t even mention that I puked in her bushes (and outside Armageddon Shop too! I’m a fucking treat.) For this time she made sure that I was well equipped with hot lemon and honey water because the baby had the sniffles.

Danielle also helped pick the bands for the evening, which were Black Sorcery, Stress Angel and One Master. Black Sorcery were my favorite of the three, with an impressive 1990s feeling to them, making me feel like I was at The Sacrifice of the Nazarene Child Fest in 1999 again. Stress Angel, who have a new album coming out fairly soon, also had that old USBM feel to them, but closer to Profanatica or the Texas bands who grew up on Sarcofago before that became a cool fashion statement. Really enjoyable stuff. One Master is probably the area’s most established black metal band at this point, commanding presence for sure. 

Dusk is also, unfortunately, the subject of the aforementioned eulogy as the owners have decided to sell and shutter the venue’s doors at the end of this month. I feel fortunate that it somehow lined up that we could play it our fourth and final time before it closed. Dusk has had a part of the last eleven years of Krieg’s life. We’ve played some of our most memorable shows there and during the recording of Transient we took a break and went to see Morne, which was the show that truly converted me to their full catalog and not just the brilliant Asylum record. 

As we get older we see friends die, we see people disappear, we see record stores we loved go away and venues we had some of our greatest evenings (and early mornings) in close their doors and become some shitty restaurant that inevitably goes out of business two years later and gets turned into a fucking Autozone. People and places we once called home. It’s a part of life but that doesn’t make it any less depressing. Dusk was one of those places for me, a home several hundred miles away from my own, with an atmosphere of sincerity that very few places can match. I’m glad I got to experience it while it was still there. Fortunately it sounds like Danielle is going to land on her feet and continue booking elsewhere, so Providence will still always be top of the list when I think of places I want to do a show at.

The moral of the story is that if you have a Dusk or something similar in your life, don’t get it for granted and show some fucking appreciation to the people who work tirelessly (and thanklessly) to provide these spaces for you. I will eventually finish the tour story with our stop in Philadelphia, a stolen check, and a yelling drunk, but that’ll have to wait. Next time we’re going to talk about books, you’re going to fucking love it.

Rock / Metal / Alternative
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