Venue: Radio Radio, Fountain Square
Another chilly night in December for Indianapolis but you would have never known when you entered the bustling Fountain Square area. Not sure the occasion but men and scantily clad women dressed as Santa Clause, happily paraded around the normally tranquil fountain and cut in-between cars under the cascading lights of the Fountain Square Theatre. Even under the typical infuriating circumstances to find parking, the initial festive atmosphere of Fountain Square was a nice prequel to where the evening could progress.
Upon entering Radio Radio, surf rock was definitely the theme of the night with 60’s high treble Dick Dale licks over the PA and a random surfer DVD playing over the big screens. Definitely not a compliment to the Judgment Day jams of Devil to Pay (or anyone else on the bill) but luckily multiple Robert the Bruce beers and people watching passed the time until No Coast from Indianapolis took the stage. Not sure if No Coast was late or not but the band immediately had a 5 minute sound check where most of the stage equipment needed calibrated. With “Wasted Veins”, No Coast thrust into a fury of harmonic punk, mimicking the brash undertones of the early 80’s pioneers The Ramones or The Clash. You could barely hear guitarist/lead singer Nate Black over the unintentional feedback and regurgitation of mismatched sounds for the equipment on stage. The enlisted sound guy for Radio Radio franticly attacked the mixing board, sliding channel levels up and down, looking for a solution to the amped calamity. Unfortunately, it took him almost No Coast’s entire set to reach a suitable audible blend where their music could finally be appreciated. Not sure the situation that required a late sound check, but No Coast are a promising unit. Eh, well from what I could hear anyways.
Next up was Goliathon, who has been relatively a well-kept Indy secret until about the middle of this year. Goliathon’s unique sound, fronted by the demanding saxophone prowess and raspy soaring voice of Chris Probasco, has garnered some local press attention and been featured in some high profile events. An irregular assortment of influences, such as 70’s progressive psychedelic rock intertwined with bravado infused jazz, has really set Goliathon apart from the multitude of surrounding local bands. Wasting no time, the song “Juqus Harpus” dissected the mindless crowd chatter with long winded wails of guitar before breaking into the charging rhythm. Bassist Colby Holmes and drummer Matthew Fields throttle the methodical pace of “Justice is Blind” as the high pitched howls of Probasco control the flow through each segment. Goliathon dropped a full length LP “Pretend It’s Not Happening” a couple months back and took full advantage of exposing us to the new material. The first track off the album “Diogenes” sent the crowd into a jubilant fury with its disorienting harmonies. On “Jettison”, guitarists Christian Wren and Derek Kendall continuously battle each other with flawless dueling guitar exchanges as Probasco’s saxophone outro boisterously interrupts. By the time the set winded down with the guitar plucking goodness of “Make Tracks”, with the dance floor packed, I had to remind myself Devil to Pay was the headliner.
After finally watching Goliathon live, they are more than deserving of their newfound attention. I’m just surprised it took so long.
Devil to Pay is a no-frills bunch in regard to on-stage personalities. Guitarist/lead singer Steve Janiak takes the stage and boorishly mumbles into the microphone, “We are Devil to Pay.” Janiak and company thankfully let their music dictate the mood with no need for flamboyant ploys.
Having now raped and pillaged most of Indianapolis’ music scene for close to ten years, DTP has become the region’s irrefutable kings of stoner rock.
They went into the cerebral chord changer “Kill Everything” as drummer Chad Prifogle, now being one of Indy’s premiere percussionists, bangs each tom and crashes each cymbal with vigorous precision. Bassist Matt Stokes sets the sinister ambience by thumping the opening to “Belial” as guitarists Janiak and Rob Hough take over with mirrored sludgy riffs. This heralded mirror tactic is also used on the “Megistotherium” (among others), between the daisy chain of stombox effects, the unison riffs create an aura of crushing dissonance from strum to strum. It is impossible to not bang your head against the official soundtrack of impending doom.
Devil to Pay surprisingly had an overall retro set. The show itself served as a celebration for a (singles) vinyl release and an upcoming album on the horizon. Nevertheless, it was good to hear Janiak and company didn’t forget about the murky chord shifts of “Tractor Fuckin’ Trailer” that in a way put all this into motion. Though when performing the just released vinyl tracks “This Train Won’t Stop” and “Tie One On”, Devil to Pay looked beyond enthralled, proving that this group has no intention to cling on a dated library forever. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised the brooding patience of “Nifheim” was still the indisputable closer. Though with its bong water soaked leads and bone crunching riffage, even I can’t think of song that better encompasses everything Devil to Pay. Radio Radio cleared out pretty quickly after DTP’s set. The bands stayed and chatted up those who stuck around. To everyone’s amusement, one guy still dressed as Santa sloppily stumbled out the door into the cold night while a drunken girl (alone on the dance floor) performed a tribal dance of sorts, swinging her ratty flannel shirt to the jams of the jukebox. In terms of a successful rock show: Mission Accomplished!