Dragged Into Sunlight – American tour diary 2012 – Part 2

by Jay H. Gorania, performance photos by Luna Duran

Saturday, June 9 – Chicago, Illinois (Ultra Lounge)

DIS cut through Johnson City, Tennessee, and Lexington, Kentucky, and Cough’s tour came to an end, meaning it was time for Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Make to hop on board in place of the previously scheduled act: Wolvhammer, who dropped off a matter of days before the tour.

I reconnected with the DIS crew at Ultra Lounge before setting off with beer and joints in hand to find out what the fuss was all about regarding Kuma’s Corner. We were impressed with the metal-band themed food, but not with the service or the wait time, or with being misled as to what the wait time would actually be after being seated. (https://www.hellbound.ca/2012/06/is-kumas-corner-worth-visiting-not-really/)

Once we were back at the venue, DIS ran through their evil set in a room so hot that the temperature was probably comparable with that of a Southeast Asian sweat shop.

Unlike many musicians who relish attention after a performance, Singer chats with fans, but it really seems as though he keeps to himself with an almost tangible sense of distance, blending into the crowd as naturally as if he was in the audience the entire time. This evening, he went back to the van in uber stealth mode. He couldn’t have walked an inch closer to the venue’s inside and outside walls if he wanted to. And with his hoodie pulled right over his head, he looked like a friggin’ cat burglar.

We stuck around Ultra Lounge’s back patio for as long as we could since it was a perfect location for summertime boozing, doing our best to drown in PBR, prior to tagging the DIS logo around town and heading over to crash at Encrust guitarist Ryan Kasparian’s house. Sleep alluded me yet again, since Ryan was generous with his liquor, and there was a great deal of his art to appreciate that he designed for merch items for the likes of Down and Crowbar.

Sunday, June 10 – Indianapolis, Indiana (Melody Inn)

The next day, Ryan took us to a great breakfast joint at which we were given removable tats that we enjoyed plastering all over our arms and faces. Back in the van, one of the gentlemen chose to put one of the fake tats on his penis, taking it a step further to make it look like a little person by tucking tooth pics into his foreskin so they’d resemble legs. Oh, those silly Brits!

Entering Indianapolis a while later, we quickly noticed, on the specific path we took, that there wasn’t a single white person in sight for the longest time, the third and fourth being the promoter and his girlfriend who met us at the venue. Miller turned to me and said that it’s bogus that Americans claim that segregation is a thing of the past because of what he and DIS witnessed in person. He was simply calling it like he saw it. But, again, I digress…

We headed to Melody Inn, a charming bar that seemed to be a metal community fixture of sorts, not necessarily a dive bar, but one that’s cozy and simply welcoming to metalheads.

I was eager to witness Coffinworm’s blackened sludge, and I was pleasantly surprised by the opening opening act: Black Goat of the Woods. They weren’t accompanied by a thousand young, and they sure as hell weren’t pretty, but their grizzly music was akin to Coffinworm in ways, yet more inclined toward faster, grind-fueled misery.

Monday, June 11 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (31st Street Pub)

Pittsburgh’s breathtaking scenery made its impression, but we were running too late to properly appreciate it, arriving in time to load in while show-goers were already there.

This was the first time I had a chance to properly soak in what Make was all about. Almost instantly, an atmosphere sets in that’s just as beautiful as it is brooding. Their psychedelic-drone sounds as though it’s Velvet Underground in terms of spirit and somewhat post-metal as far as sound. It’s not really music that one rocks out to; instead, it’s fit for trancing out. Matt Stevenson’s hypnotic drum-beat holds together the spacious music that climaxes with the bombastic riffs of bassist Spencer Lee and guitarist Scott Endres which explode alongside their coarse screaming.

Next up, DIS unleashed their insanity that was matched by one fan who was front row center. The power of music manifests itself physically through people in the form of dancing, nodding your head, pumping your fist, banging your head, moshing and, in this guy’s case, beating yourself until you’re a bloody mess. Since he turned around to face the crowd while he’d strike himself with a closed fist, I can’t help but assume there was an element of exhibitionism/attention-seeking, but it certainly was interesting to see a large, muscular guy with a shaved head, swastika tats and an Absurd shirt standing in front of the band on the floor as he was screaming and punching himself in the face repeatedly. Following the show, it appeared as though he spat out blood by the mouthful near the front of the stage and in the men’s bathroom’s urinal.

Man, some people really get into shows!

We capped off the evening by watching Office Space that was rendered that much more funny because of the bong hits offered by our gracious host Nika. Another failed attempt to catch-up on sleep.

Tuesday, June 12 – Rochester, New York (The Bug Jar)

Singer was particularly concerned about the rack’s candles running low, so for the last few days we were desperately hunting for new candles to no avail, whether it was because of candle stores keeping odd hours or because we couldn’t find candles that would fit inside DIS’ candle holder.
#Firstworldextrememetalbandproblems

On this morning, our candle search took us to what appeared to be a large facility housing a church and seminary, but a woman there quickly informed us there were no candles. She wasn’t pleased one bit when Singer screamed, “God damn!”

Since the tour was almost over, everyone convinced Singer there was enough candle wax to last for the remaining two shows, so we continued onward to Rochester’s incredibly named venue The Bug Jar.

This bar’s green room was essentially a couple of couches next to one another in an unfurnished basement. This is where we encountered one of the biggest douche bags imaginable. Miller was conversing with this drunkard who sat down with us, and finally, this strange character walked toward Dring who was eating from our box of pizza. Even though Dring told him we didn’t have enough food for our crew, this idiot kept asking if he could have some, at one point putting his hand on the back of Dring’s arm while urging him to go upstairs. Understandably, we were pissed off. His response to me inquiring about what he wanted from Dring? “Business.”

“What?”

“Business. We’ve gotta talk business.”

Around this time Bassist came down and asked the guy why he was there.

“Ask the guys who own this place,” this man with the white guy fro told Bassist. “I live here. I live here.”

Bassist aggressively spoke down to the clown and made him go upstairs. It baffles me that we all remained calm enough to refrain from whooping his ass. It was probably for the best. Bassist handled the situation quite well, actually, and generally speaking, he is a well-spoken, calm-natured professional. But there’s a little bit of an American Psycho quality to him, not unhinged, but certainly mischievous, to an extent.

Now, compared to the drunk, wannabe pizza thief, the awful band upstairs—a cross between Children of Bodom and straight-up power metal—was heavenly. Back-handed compliment aside, they were cool enough to offer floor space to half of our crew, including Bassist who described them as the biggest nerds on Earth. They told him their wireless network’s password was the first ten or so digits of Pi. Not surprisingly, he needed further clarification. Who the fuck knows that?

At any rate, the rest of us stayed with one of the most fanatical metalheads I’ve had the pleasure of coming across in my life, Nathan, a 420-friendly black metal fiend who played extremely rare records until 5 or 6 a.m. while generously doling out green party supplements. Failed attempt to catch-up on sleep? Check.

Wednesday, June 13 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Kung Fu Necktie)

We made it to Philly, and in fine tourist-as-fuck fashion, made our way to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to run the “Rocky Steps,” the staircase that Sylvester Stallone ran up in Rocky before he threw his hands up in mock victory, as he looked toward a breathtaking view of the city. But never mind the friggin’ scenery. We wanted to run the stairs, and Singer won the race, though he had a running start (cheater) unlike everyone else. Dring won Silver, and I won Bronze. I’m never first. 🙁

Back at the venue, I was blown away by the awesome, crusty blackened thrash emanating from openers Infernal Stronghold. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Later on, after I got some fresh air outside with the Make dudes, I entered the door beside the stage as DIS was playing and almost instantly became mesmerized with their candle rack, as I did every night at some point.

Without getting into specifics or intending to sound as “emo” as this surely will, I’ll just say that in regular daily life my frustration simmers, my blood boils. I kind of picture myself as the pissed-off guy burying his head in his hands depicted on the cover of Napalm Death’s From Enslavement to Obliteration. As the initiated know all too well, metal can be cathartic, and metal can be ugly. A snake sheds its skin to allow for growth, and to rid itself of that which it doesn’t need. It might not be beautiful by conventional standards. It’s just necessary.

Zoning out while staring at the animal skull and candle rack became a nightly ritual for me. The image captures the essence of DIS’ overbearingly dark, hateful music, and gazing at it while listening to the songs facilitated a process of channelling my anger and negative energy. It was enjoyable, but in this sense of total release, it wasn’t always the most comfortable experience.

Thursday, June 14 – Brooklyn, New York (Saint Vitus)

On our way to the vans the next morning, the broken fence around the motel’s empty swimming pool served to remind us about the previous evening’s antics. With weed and bourbon in hand, the DIS/Make crew entered the empty pool late at night to party and goof off. Was a fence going to stand in our way? Hell no!

In the dark of night, the others successfully climbed over this fence, while my clumsy ass awkwardly broke through it somehow. Unintentionally. On the way out, however, Al broke through a separate section of fencing with anger, determination and plenty of screaming. Intentionally. Shamelessly, and somewhat proudly, in fact, we marched onward for the next stop, which was the final show of the tour.

New York City was an amazing sight in the distance as well as up-close and personal. The familiar skyline jumped out of the mind’s television screen and in front of your eyes; you could hear a plethora of different accents and languages on the streets; and, unfortunately, the traffic in downtown areas was what nightmares are made of. Traffic cops were aggressive, and so were drivers, but none of it mattered. It took us over an hour to travel about ten miles.

Finally arriving in Brooklyn, we got there with enough time for some of us to take a cab over to a strip joint, which had been a goal all tour long. Drummer got in even though he didn’t have his identification on him, something required by the door guy who prevented some others in our crew from entering. It wasn’t just his diminutive stature. Drummer is a sneaky bastard. He just sort of slithered in like a snake.

The strip joint was mediocre at best, and so small that the main bar was directly in front of the girls dancing, so the custom of dollar tipping girls right in front of you was expected of us by every girl there, even though there was little room to sit elsewhere. The door guy lectured us. “I dunno how it’s done in England, but in America, you tip the girls if you stand in front of them.” Prick.

We made it back to the venue for DIS to soundcheck, and not long thereafter, the bar played some Cathedral and Saint Vitus. The venue is called Saint Vitus. They played Saint Vitus at Saint Vitus. How awesome is that?

One of the tour’s best opening bands kicked off the show. Straying from the norm, sans guitar, The Year Is One features a six-string bassist, a four-string bassist, a blast-happy drummer and solid growling and screaming from vocalist Jimmy Hubbard in a dark, gritty display of powerviolence/grind. Sadly, the bass sound melted together into a singular pulsating resonance rather than standing apart as two low-end instruments playing off one another. But, again, The Year is One proved to be one of the tour’s best opening bands.

Then, DIS and Make both had great performances to round out what was a killer tour. Rather than saying goodbye as we parted ways at the front of the venue, DIS and I affectionately screamed and cussed at one another, and I spit on their van.

Dragged Into Sunlight’s second album Widowmaker is set for release November 6th on Prosthetic Records