Show review: Meth and Goats, A Roman Holiday, Cough.

Last night was yet another show at Eric's basement, the only sorts of shows I've been able to afford lately. Meth and Goats, from Iowa, played with locals A Roman Holiday and Cough.

Cough played first, with their second show in as many weeks, and at the same venue. Their set this night was a noticeable improvement--David had cut his guitar rig down to one full-stack, and that plus a louder PA allowed for equal volume from all instruments and vocals. Also, it was obvious that they'd had more practice between the two shows, as Joey knew the Melvins cover a lot better and the set was tighter and more together in general. Chris didn't get nearly as wasted, either; I guess he's getting used to singing. The original songs grabbed me a lot more than they had the first time now that these improvements were made, and I really enjoyed their set, even more than I had last week.

Meth and Goats were supposed to play second, so that they'd get the biggest crowd, but at the end of Cough's set (which had itself gotten started over an hour late), they still weren't there, so A Roman Holiday went ahead and played. Their music is more indie-rock than what a lot of bands in Richmond are playing, mixing the danceable energy of bands like Q and Not U with a more rock n' roll sound that harks back to alternative rock bands of the mid-90s. Last time I saw them, they played a cover of "Two States" by Pavement, and this time they played "Sliver" by Nirvana. They did that song second in their set, but for some reason the guitarist decided that this would be an appropriate moment to trash his guitar, and threw it into the drums. Unfortunately, his rock n' roll excess led to his strap breaking, and he had to find another strap to borrow to continue the set. This killed the momentum of the set, and from that point on it became obvious that the members of Roman Holiday had been doing quite a bit of drinking before they played. Their songs aren't really the type of songs that work all that well when they're played sloppily, and though I know they can play them well, this wasn't that sort of night. I ended up going outside before their set was over.

Meth and Goats finally arrived at the show during A Roman Holiday's set, so they were still able to play. There was some worry that people would leave, but nothing of the sort ended up happening, and Meth and Goats played to as many people as the first two bands had. And they blew me away. It was not much like anything I'd really heard before. First of all, their drummer was incredibly talented and was all over the kit throughout every song. This made his rhythms complex, but it didn't make the songs hard to follow at all, just really interesting. The singer did do the standard hardcore scream at times, but their music was far enough removed from hardcore that it wasn't appropriate to scream a lot of the time, and so the lion's share of his vocals were sung in a balls out rock n' roll manner that reminded me of Rob Tyner from the MC5 mixed with Mark Arm of Green River/Mudhoney. The guitarist and bassist usually played parts that were completely different from each other, with the bassist doing more melodic stuff while the guitarist played a lot of repeating bar chords high up on the neck. The overall effect was complex, technical rock n' roll that at times made me think of bands like Hoover or Drive Like Jehu at their most driving moments, and at other times reminded me of 80s alternative rock bands like Husker Du. There were a lot of math-rock tendencies in their songwriting style, and the most interesting thing about them was the way that their drummer tended to be the soloist, with the bassist and singer laying down melodies and the guitarist keeping the rhythm of the songs. Like I said, different from almost anything I'd ever heard before.

I had a blast for the first few songs of their set, but then some weird drama started. There was some new kid at the show who had moved into town from Boston only a couple weeks before. He seemed like some strange cross between a raver/nu-metal kid, a fashion punk, and a crusty. He was into Meth and Goats's music, which I found understandable, but when he started dancing, instead of doing any kind of dancing people tend to do here, he did these strange dances that were a mix of rap-style "raise the roof" stuff and toughguy moshing. He'd be waving his arms all funky-like, then start swinging his fists and smashing into the people standing near him. Of course, everyone in the place found this weird, and the kids standing around him found it both absurd and annoying, but the real problem started when some of the kids standing near him started making fun of him by imitating his form of dancing. This kid was not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, so rather than figuring out that he was being made fun of, which could have been a problem on its own, he thought that they were into the music too, and so he started dancing even harder. Everything came to a head halfway through Meth and Goats' set, when the kid slammed into and knocked down a girl standing near him who was just watching the band. Kyle and Jamie, both of whom lived at the house, started trying to tell the kid to calm down. Meanwhile, the kids who'd been making fun of him tried to egg him on, and the kid himself started getting angry that he was "being told not to dance". I was already pretty annoyed with the way the kid had been dancing, and also with the way other kids had been egging him on. It was killing my buzz, so to speak. Coincidentally, right as this happened, the guitarist for Meth and Goats broke a string, so during the five minute lull while he was changing strings, I found myself jumping into the argument, first telling the dancer kid that he could dance if he could avoid swinging fists and running into people, then yelling at a couple of the kids who kept encouraging the guy. And of course, those kids didn't want to hear about how they were making a bad situation worse, so they gave me a bunch of half-assed excuses, and then one of them started telling me to shut up. At that point, I snapped and got in the guy's face, which led to me being dragged away from him by two other roommates from the house. Then while one of them was trying to talk me down, I yelled at some other kid who had nothing to do with it because I saw him looking at me, and at that point I was basically spitting fire, looking for an excuse. So yeah, after a few minutes I calmed down, apologized to the random kid I'd yelled at, and Meth and Goats finished their set, but on the whole the drama sucked and took a lot of the fun out of it for me. It's stuff like this that led me to get annoyed with going to shows back when I used to do it all the time a few years ago, and I'd really like to keep it from ruining things for me now. This was why I went outside after seeing Your Fellow Rebels play one song last week--so that I wouldn't get all pissed off over people acting stupid (the silly string is still stuck to the ceiling in a few places, by the way). But I really wanted to watch Meth and Goats, because they were great, so I ended up putting myself in a bad situation. I really need to try not to lose my temper in circumstances like that. Lesson learned, I suppose.

This whole thing didn't ruin the show for me completely, and I want to stress that Meth and Goats were outstanding and that you should all go see them if you ever get the chance. But man, people being drunken dumbasses at shows, and the drama this inevitably causes... the whole thing is lame. I hope I never have to deal with it again, but I can't imagine that that will come to pass.


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