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Rewind: Omotai, Big Fiction, Canyons, and Ghost Town Electric At Rudyards 01/07/2011

Submitted by Commandrea on January 10, 2011 – 1:00 amNo Comment
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—Ramon LP4 01/10/2010

Omotai lays down the heavy at Rudyard's

A general rule of putting together a line-up is never put your strongest artist first.  Friday night’s show at Rudyard’s had to toss that rule aside out of necessity.   We’d come to see Omotai but as we arrived shortly after 10:30 PM we heard some gut-grinding metal emanating from the stairs to the second floor.  I raced upstairs and asked soundman Joe Omelchuck who was playing.

“Omotai!” he shouted back.

“Omotai?  What?  They were supposed to play last!”

“The touring bands had some van trouble between Dallas and here.  We’re not even sure they will make it tonight.”

Omotai's four-string powerhouse Melissa Lonchambon

Oh great!  So I raced up to the front to get an earlier than expected dose of Omotai.   For those of you unfamiliar with Omotai, let me just tell you that they are likely one of the best metal bands in Houston.  Not that you would pick them out as particularly metal in their looks but there are enough forgettable leather-clad long-haired tattooed metal bands in the world to prove that there is more to metal than just a uniform.  If you don’t have the bone crushing sound, the brutal riffs, and the athletic chops, no metal uniform alone will align the Norse gods in your struggle to kick your listener’s asses.  Truly, Omotai has all three elements yet the Norse gods will not align with them for they fear them.

“Their Metal is too awesome and too righteous for even the Gods,” says Norse God Odin (no metal slouch himself) “Anthony Vallejo’s drumming is a murderous inhuman pounding that sends chills down all those in Asgard; Melissa Lonchambon’s bass tone is so heavy and powerful that even Thor’s hammer shatters in its presence; and Samuel Waters’ guitar licks are so imperious and crushing that even my own Aesir warriors are rendered frail and weak.”

Omotai's Anthony Vallejo and his inventive use of duct tape.

Murderous, inhuman, heavy, powerful, imperious, and crushing are all good words to describe Friday’s performance.  Even with the early and unexpected start, they killed.  Vallejo percussive blur of beats was only overshadowed by the hole in the crotch of his jeans that was patched with duct tape.  Honestly, I didn’t even notice it until I heard one woman say, “I know why he’s got that duct taped ‘cause if not I’d be all over that!”  Oh great! Thanks for pointing that out, now I can’t help but notice!  Thankfully, the patch held and Anthony escaped being assaulted on stage by lusting females.  Lonchambon meanwhile head-banged her way through the set with nimble fingers and heavy ass tone.  Let’s get this straight; the heavy in metal comes from the low end – the bass.  You walk into the arena with a low and dirty bass tone like Melissa’s and your band has won half the battle.  Waters, meanwhile, churned and ground his way expertly and with ear-splitting volume on the six-string.  One thing about metal is that I’ve run into a lot of bands where the songs can seem like a mash-up of unrelated riffs – not so with Omotai; Sam’s a good enough songwriter to take unexpected turns while keeping things cohesive and organic.  It’s adroit without being showy and Omotai is a band that doesn’t need to show off.   They let the music do the talking and for the crowd at Rudyard’s on Friday that was all that was needed.  Well, that and a good set of earplugs.

Ghost Town Electric

As you can imagine Ghost Town Electric had a tough act to follow but they held their own and then some. God knows they riled-up the crowd more than Omotai did.  I saw more heads banging and the crowd was packed right up to the edge of the stage.  Clearly the bands galloping riffs are a hit with the crowd but, for me, the band really stood out when then slowed it down for the bluesier Feelin’ Strange where the vocals and guitars had enough space to really build up some power.  What can I say, it was  a solid set and the audience really dug it.

While GTE was revving-up the crowd, the touring bands finally, after being pulled over by police and van woes, made it to Rudyard’s.  Unfortunately for them, the crowd had dwindled to about half after Ghost Town Electric’s set.

Canyons

Canyons went on first and I can’t say I was too impressed.  The guitar was thin and shrill, the drummer was adequate but not up to the level of Omotai’s Vallejo, and the vocals were forgettable.   A wholly unremarkable set that lacked any heaviness whatsoever and what heard were a group of songs that, despite the band’s volume and the vocalist’s antics, left me cold and uninterested.

That left me not expecting too much from Big Fiction but from the opening notes I found myself really into it.  So much so that I went down to the patio to entice my friends to come up and check it out.

“So what’s the word?”

“They are actually pretty kick-ass!   Some serious bad ass Jesus Lizard inspired bass action and you know I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff.  Y’all should really check it out!”

Big Fiction and big amps

So, I dragged them upstairs.  One friend noted the bassist was wearing a Jesus Lizard shirt (Nailed it!) and he seemed to dig it but another was less than impressed by the lead singer “not doing anything.”  OK sure, he didn’t jump around and engage in any crazy front-man antics but I can tell you that it didn’t make Canyons’ set any better.  Nah, this was just a solid rhythm section that was smart enough to allow enough space in their music to give the heavy room to pound your skull.  I can’t speak for their tracks on Facebook or Myspace, (which don’t pack the same punch as their live show) but from what I heard on Friday, these Dallas/Arlington kids are definitely worth an ear if you dig heavy and loud.  As brain crushingly awesome as Omotai?  No, but they could definitely make it an interesting cage match.

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