This line up was perfectly fitting for the strange rainy day in January that it was. Normal weather is an anomaly in Michigan, so living here has made me become familiar with being surprised. I thought living within less than fifteen minutes walking distance from the Pyramid Scheme would be convenient, yet the Mitten’s unpredictably shitty weather almost made me change my mind about going out. I’m glad I did complete the trek and seek out the warmth of a beer and a group of strangers convening for the mutual purpose of absorbing the show’s sonic tones.
Child Bite took the stage and immediately went full throttle, committing themselves to that energy level even though they were playing to a mostly empty room. The guitar and bass players both disguised their faces with their bouncing long hair, while the lead singer ran around the stage like a deflating balloon, and rather sounded like it too. The singer’s stage antics included spitting on the floor, contorting his fingers in front of his face, and slighting rude gestures to the generally unresponsive crowd. Child Bite produces a mountain of sound, build on sludge sludge bass and squeaky guitar riffs, topped off with shaking vocals sometimes made more interesting through various effects.
Corey J Brewer was perhaps the biggest surprise of the night, and a definite oddball on this line up, creating sounds with a completely different approach than the bands on either side of him. Brewer is a solo act who could be mistaken for a snake oil salesman; he wore a tucked-in white button up under a black trenchcoat and carried all his equipment in a single suitcase! This definitely creates a bit of mystique around his performance as one cannot completely see what equipment he has tucked in his suitcase, the only clues being the synthetic drums and synth noises clouding his howling vocals (I think one of his songs actually had wolf howls in the background). Imagine if Joy Division took acid and got lost in synth loops and noisier drums. His music is almost danceable, but droney enough to where you might forget you’re actually trying to dance. His set was short and mystifying.
GodheadSilo took the stage with a simple and effective stage set up: the drumset closer to the front of the stage, right next to the wall of amps (six half stacks to be exact) for the bass player/front man. There must have been chainsaws in each of those amplifiers, because the sounds from that rig were more abrasive than a single bass should be. Perhaps I’m underestimating the impressive pedal board he had running into them. GodheadSilo were thunderous and full, with the drummer pounding away on an orange translucent set and the bassist completely straddling his instrument, wrapping the thumb around the neck to play to top string, and dancing across the higher strings with the rest of the fingers, surprisingly similar to the way Hendrix played the guitar.
In between songs, they were hardly the predictable musicians, cracking lighthearted jokes that mostly crash landed, and bantering with the audience about how bad they normally sound. The bass player was surprisingly soft-spoken between songs, but when he was playing, his snarling and howling vocals cut through his thick basslines enough to convince me his performance is clearly an intense cathartic release of some sort. Perhaps that was the least surprising moment of the night.
Be sure to catch these bands when they roll through Grand Rapids again, and next time you’re debating whether or not some show is worth the arduous journey to the venue, with near certainty I can promise your efforts will be surprisingly rewarded.