Review by Matt Miller, photos by Rachel Jablonski
Anticipation. Voracious, like a fratboy at happy hour. Leastways, that’s how it began after seeing 51 Peg for the first time since November, and Lye for the first time ever on the preceding Saturday. Both bands performed splendidly at the Silo, and Club Mate would see the addition of Chrysalis to the lineup—that’s like adding Halo to Skittles on Christmas for me—but as luck would have it, the ghost of my old nemesis Palpy paid another visit in what some might call PEG WARS 12…give or take?
Spurning the flashy lightnings and mind-control from Episode 7, for a more subtle approach, Palpy made a confused jumble of online roadmap programs, caused a chemical spill on I-83, and was even able to infect my upper respiratory system so that hunched over a toilet just half an hour before lift-off to Baltimore, I thought my jig was already up for the night. I hate that guy!
Short story shorter, we made it, on time too, ending Palpy’s last gasp…Yeah, I’m sorry for the lack of non-music-related details, it just wasn’t that epic—Less a dance with Jak O’ the Shadows and more a game of hopscotch with Jocko the Shinless. Nevertheless, it had a worse effect, leaving me in one of those ‘this was supposed to be my day because for once I don’t have to drive!’ funks. Also, attendance was sub par on the Thursday before Easter. Plus, I have an odd affinity for dives, and this place was virtually spotless—I hate fancy lighting, just swing by Target and pick up Christmas lights, I’m not there to bask in the sexual ambiance of *moan* Club Mate, only to witness amazing feats of Musichiatry (Take that Prince!)…Bathroom still had piss all over it, though—rock and roll!
Toronto’s Lye initiated the monkey business by flinging four of my favorite songs out right away. “Tell Me,” the intro track to their debut CD Companion, gave a straightforward, brutally industrial/rock intro to all the live show as well, but it had its rear quickly nipped by the slower, if moodier “Teeth.” Of course, “Sucking the Dick of a Rich Man” pleased the crowd if not for some of the more colorful lyrics, for the sheer catchiness and fancy guitar work. “Endless Reverie,” a more industrial relic from Lye’s past (as Aphasia…not the Aphasia from SOC archives), was pleasing to hear live as well as to have a name to put to the mysterious ‘track 16’ lurking on my laptop. Otherwise the set was exceptional although abbreviated. Brett even did his “Oh No” crowd meet-and-greet/molestation thing, which I understand to be the norm. Overall they sounded great and entertained, although one could wish for a better turnout.
Chrysalis, the first local band, played to a bit more of a crowd, which is to say everyone in the little entourage I belonged to had drinks, shirked the wallflower thing, and moved to the stage, among a few others. Now that I think on it, it’s an improvement on the last time I saw them. The crowd consisted of my friend and I…and a handful of people who happened to be drinking in the same bar, but for what it’s worth everyone was paying attention at the end of that one. Now, Chrysalis is one of my top two favorite bands and I would like to give a solid review, but I can’t because I lost myself halfway into “Skusashi.” They have, without a doubt, the tightest live show I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen it four times now, so it’s not a fluke. They performed a generous set from their self-titled EP interspersed with a new song, “Between Two Words,” another new song, “Cataract,” which I think I heard a year ago in a rough form as an encore, and a song that’s been around awhile, but not on disc called “Imprint.” For those of you familiar with Chrysalis, my friends and I have come to refer to it as ‘the demon-seed song.’
51 Peg, who maintain the other half of my official ‘top two favorite bands’ list, put on another classic 51 Peg show. Edge and soul, silliness and stark honesty come together for 40 minutes or so every show and leave listeners felling smarter, happier, and I daresay sexier even if they just saw them five days before.
The Club Mate set proved to me, if nothing else, that 51 Peg are fearless. Some bands will throw out as many old songs as new, but 51 Peg kept faith in their own progress, performing only songs from 2004’s ESC/CTRL and unreleased songs. Now, I had seen them 11 times in the span of a year, so I was familiar with even the unreleased songs, but from the perspective of someone familiar mostly with 2000’s Strange Appointments, there’s a considerable leap in style to the present. In short, many of the older songs are slower, and more brooding—“colder,” while the newer songs have more heat and movement. The signature of this set and sets to come seems to be more of a tension between polar rhythms—the heavy and danceable, yet their dichotomy tugs each just shy of the other. To complete a yin-yang deluge of epic proportions, they rocked my booty off with little or no damage unto my person.
Sure, I could make a T-rex with the size and amount of bones I have about venues, mapquest, traffic, and little kids coughing all over the Tastykakes at the supermarket, but the music and musicianship determine the mood every time. That said, these three bands may perform for handful of fans for the time being, but will never perform for a fistful of frowny faces.