Monday, March 31, 2008

Howlin Rain @ the Khyber March 30 2008

Weird Sunday night in Olde City. Rolled down with coworkers and walked into an almost empty Khyber. So bizarre, I was totally thinking this show would be sold out, people falling out of the door, etc. While it was nice to have a lot of space, a little more crowd probably woulda been nice. Caught one song from openers Heavy Hand and it was decent, kinda like a slicked up Birds of Maya?

About 3/4s of a cookie were eaten, so I nursed some porters while waiting for the second band to finish. Didn't catch their name, but they played a very long folk/rock type set that really didn't keep my interest at all.

Howlin Rain took off with a full five member band, two guitars, bass, drums and keyboards, just like their recent killer album Magnificent Fiend. Going right off the deep end with "Dancers at the End of Time," a perfect opener, fuzz shred guitar riffing mixing with the B-3 sounds and some tight tight drums. The general vibe of the band was a tad tense, what with sound problems and the second guitarist's strap breaking during the second song (and not a replacement to be found, he wound up finishing the set with one leg on a chair, propping up his axe). It was hard to tell if the lack of audience came into play; they seemed to be having a decent time on stage and the music didn't suffer at all. Basically it kinda sounded like the Howlin Rain songbook put through the computer program that generated the first High Rise record plus a little bit of the Allman Brothers' Live at the Fillmore East. Not a bad thing at all, maybe the best thing ever, at least in this house. Anyway, my cookie did seem timed pretty well with their set, and I was head bobbing right along.

That said, they played a crazy short set, clocking in at only 40 minutes, which is barely enough to get going. It probably seemed even shorter, what with seeing Acid Mothers Temple play twice as long only a week earlier. What they did play was fantastic, though. Just what I wanted/hoped for. Raw fuzz burn mixing with the acid sear of the B-3 in a wash of chaos, only to come out of it with some Allmans style dual guitar action! Always a huge sucker for that sound, and those fractal jams were totally right on in my cookie filled brain. They did jam out the songs, making them longer and giving them deeper noise/space out portions, and even some honest to god improvisation (I think so anyway, god). Just wish they had played like 3 hours, alas! Anyways, I guess this stop was early on their tour and hopefully they will tighten it up and add some jams. Oh yeah, the cover of the Vanilla Fudge version "You Keep Me Hanging On" was pretty damn strutty and boisterous. Nice. And yeah, the lead dude does look like Earl Hickey.

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