Monday, March 7, 2016

Concert Review: Nor Bay Pyrate Punx Presents "Amnesia, Cheap Squeeze, End All and Heap of Stone"


    Sometimes looks can be deceiving and a small dive bar can be the optimal setting for a crushing hardcore punk, sludge and doom show. Gale’s Central Club, located in downtown Petaluma, happened to be the best place for an earsplitting and exciting show on a Sunday night. 

    The bands who played were Amnesia, Cheap Squeeze, End All and Heap of Stone. This would be Amnesia’s first live show and being past guests of my radio show and really good friends, I made sure to show up and give my support. Also, I was interested in hearing the other three bands live and seeing what they had to offer. Upon arriving at the venue fairly early looking to get out of the pouring rain, I noticed that there were already some crusty looking punks gathered inside ready to unleash some pent up rage. I was hoping that compared to my last punk/metal show experience at Gale’s where I saw two fights with one guy getting body slammed, that the crowd would be able to keep themselves in check. Luckily, there were no violent altercations and just some top quality up and coming acts.

    After moving the pool tables to the side and laying down the carpet for the bands to play on, Amnesia began setting up for their first official live set. The Santa Rosa, CA based sludge band takes influences such as Negative Approach, Eyehategod, Saint Vitus, Acid Bath and simply has fun experimenting with a variety of extreme compositions. Guitarist Luis Olguin began hammering right away at ominous sounding chord progressions, while drummer Chris Olney Burnett pounded on his drums with plenty of brutal force. Singer Alex Hernandez took the mic and became possessed by the wicked sounding instrumental compositions to where he knew exactly when to come in with his unforgiving harsh vocal style. The band sounded unbelievably tight, especially during the quick hardcore punk mixed with grindcore parts. Chris was playing at break neck speeds and even when a drum stick flew out of his hands, he was able to maintain the rhythm while grabbing a new one and recovered quite impressively. Best song during their set in my opinion was, “Hallowed Voices.” The band turned up the extreme dial and Alex channeled his inner Mike IX. Once finished the crowd gave the band a thunderous applause and congratulated them on a smashing first show. 

    Following Amnesia was Cheap Squeeze, another local Sonoma County band. Cheap Squeeze definitely offered more of a classic hardcore punk sound and I think the fans appreciated it, because I saw a few people feverishly nodding their heads and digging the punk instrumentals. Their sound reminded me of groups such as the Subhumans, Agent Orange and Black Flag. Their drummer and bass player did a solid job providing a strong rhythmic backbone. The band’s guitarist/singer seemed to be on the money with his riffs and vocal presentation. I thought they had a few songs with very catchy choruses and the backing vocals provided by the drummer and bass player amplified the lyrical content with an extra pop of energy. 

   Third band after Cheap Squeeze was End All. These guys drove up from Martinez, CA to demonstrate their aggressive and vitriolic style of hardcore punk that had some metal elements thrown in here and there. Using minor chords to create a sinister intro, the band then exploded into a furious onslaught of extreme noise. The level of energy that was coming from their music definitely took people by surprise. I thought they had a solid sound and exhibited tremendous passion. Their singer would scream into the microphone while staring straight ahead and had such a hellish vocal delivery. During their set they announced that they had free demos which caused one guy from outside to come rushing with enthusiasm. I made sure to grab one myself before that guy could come back and take them all. Towards the end of their set it was no surprise that the crowd wanted an encore, and End All was generous enough to play a couple more for the ravenous demo crazed fans. 

    The last band to play was Petaluma locals, Heap of Stone. When I saw their guitarist bring in an Orange Amp, I knew these guys were going to unleash some doom upon the crowd. Heap of Stone cleverly combined doom, sludge and progressive metal elements to put on a devastating performance. Also, for a trio they had a full and powerful sound which I think is impressive for only three dudes. At times they would go into these long Sleep like instrumental jams and knowing that there were some Sleep fans in attendance, Heap of Stone was truly playing to crowd's musical preferences. I think their singer/drummer was feeling a bit under the weather, because I could not hear the vocals that well. Although, his drumming was still spot on. By the end of the set all three members looked dog tired from riffing away on loud and solid pieces of doom. 

    For a free show at a dive bar on a Sunday night, all three bands played great and there was a solid turnout. It is sad that there are not shows like this more often, so give credit to Nor Bay Pyrate Punx for getting these four bands together. Also, I would really like to see these bands keep playing live gigs. Their hard work stood out the most and if they keep working at coming up with killer songs, who knows what they might be able to achieve down the road. So, if any of these four groups is playing in a city near you, I recommend making your way down. Even if the venue is not exactly a five star establishment, the music and atmosphere will be something that you will never forget. 

End All


End All:

Cheap Squeeze:

Heap of Stone:

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