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Live Report: Stimulant and Mad Diesel at Saint Vitus

There are some cures for the holiday blues. In NYC, you can head over to St. Vitus and drift around; drink beer and watch the best in underground music. This is a nice little journey to escape the capitalistic black hole of Christmas. The holiday has always been like this more or less (we’re just older and angrier), but it feels much worse now. Christmas is a reflection of the world we live in, and St. Vitus is the dark reflection on the very corner of that total reflection. It’s the inner-reverse-inner reflection. The beers tasted good Wednesday night, and the bands tore a little whole in the space-time continuum.

I missed the opener again (Septic Rot) due to the city’s never-ending battle with transportation insanity, but got there in time to see the very crushing Fluoride. From New Jersey, this grindcore/powerviolence trio is fast and lean: moving with visual slowness, but aural quickness. The speed sneaks up on you. The band are great at making songs that are all under two minutes seem even quicker. There’s punk all over, and there’s some esoteric doom in there as well. The group whipped up frenzied energy then came crashing down to Earth, and then again, and again: a serious onslaught of rage and crust.

Oxalate is new local band that are as much old-school death metal as they are grind. Their set was totally killer, with groove, accents and mysterious overcast. The trio recalls bands like Carcass and Grave, and even Haemorrhage, but with added space and a slight doom that was very particular to each composition they stretched. The band was structural and layered, and organic around those leveled extensions. There was color to the group as well. Like ‘90s death metal, which was way more hippie than people ever gave it credit for, Oxalate gives out a sunny darkness: a light inside the shadows.

Mad Diesel is a NYHC group with grind and powerviolence influences. The quartet wore ski masks on this evening. I’m not sure if that’s a regular thing, but I hope not, because masks suck. The band has two vocalists a guitarist and a drummer, so there’s the classic grind minimalism thing going on. The guitarist and drummer are very tight, and were certainly the highlight. The vocalists were floating around somewhere in nu-metal land, almost symbolic or surreal, I’m not sure which. The group whooped around, circled and danced to their almost cyclical beats, a dialogue that owed as much to rap as it did hardcore.

Stimulant closed things out with aplomb, grinding out quick numbers of sweat, speed and form. Composed of former Water Torture members Thomas Leyh and Ian Wiedrich, the duo played lean and intimately, practically hovering over each other with enlarged drums and amps, noise, pedals and fission. The group stood in direct contrast to the over consumption and maddening pressure of the holidays. They played for joy with simplicity, and realized each and every vessel of their spirits fully. I love bands composed of two people. There’s a nostalgic and pure quality to the interaction of two artists working together. Quite likely when you starting playing punk rock in your parent’s basement so long ago, it was you and a drummer, or you and a guitarist: Two people in charge of the world. Stimulant ruled the Vitus landscape Wednesday night: offering the perfect holiday getaway.

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