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Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats Live In Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg

All photos by Blair Hopkins
All photos by Blair Hopkins

A lot has changed in this neighborhood, but instead of getting bogged down in discussions of gentrification and local politics, let’s focus on the positive: Rock shows at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn still sound pretty damn good. The sold-out show on September 10 was already packed before the first band took the stage, and while it’s easy to enjoy good bands under most circumstances, a full house definitely adds to the experience.

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The Shrine started the show with their brand of finely-tuned street metal. (Just because you’re playing gutter punk anthems doesn’t mean you have to forgo practice.) These guys have been road-dogging it for years now, and it shows in their instrumental prowess. Opening their six-song set with drugged-up zombie ode “Tripping Corpse” then going straight into “Rare Breed”, the crowd was into it immediately. Fists were raised and hair was flying as the California trio channeled Black Flag via Fu Manchu’s ’77 Dodge Street Van. The Shrine’s unsung star is drummer Jeff Murray, who pulled massive Bonham/Ward sounds out of his relatively diminutive kit. They may not be headliners yet, but most bands couldn’t ask for a better warmup act than The Shrine.

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From the between-song banter, it was hard to tell whether Danava frontman Gregory Meleney was under the weather or just “feeling no pain” – most likely both – but either way, it didn’t have an impact on their stellar performance. In terms of years put in, they were the most experienced band on stage that night and it showed. There were Thin Lizzy dual harmonies galore, a lockstep rhythm section with gobs of low end, and Meleney’s soulful howl floating atop it all. The only criticism was rhythm guitarist Pete Hughes disappearing in the mix during songs whenever Meleney had to punch out for tuning; a quibbling detail, to be sure. Danava is a new favorite.

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Most music fans have a subconscious checklist of things they want out of an artist or band. Some might not realize it, or even deny it, but it makes sense: if you love X, Y and Z you want your music to encompass at least some, if not all, of those elements. Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats is one of those bands; I was hooked from the first 90 seconds of “I’ll Cut You Down” (now a live staple). Seeing them almost exactly one year after their previous NYC performance, very little has changed. That’s a good thing; other than some new songs in the setlist (opener “Mt. Abraxas,” Blood Lust choice cut “Over & Over Again,” Volume I’s “Dead Eyes Of London”) all of the crowd favorites were well represented. While much has been made of their retro/analog sound, Uncle Acid sound absolutely HUGE in a live setting. Some of that has to do with the venue, as it’s easy to see some of the nuance and intensity could be lost in a stadium or at a huge festival. The crowd was spellbound from the very start; Uncle Acid has that intangible ability, like Neurosis or YOB, to compel one to lose oneself in the performance, surrender to the music and just exist in that space, even temporarily. Or maybe it was just the haze of devil’s lettuce hanging in the air. Regardless, this is not a tour to be missed.

The Shrine

Danava

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats

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