As sometimes happens in the world of music journalism, one finds out last minute that they are going to a show that night. A quick shift in gears in order to make it to the show on time, and it’s off to the races, er the venue. Lucky for me weeknights in Boston are easier to get around than other cities I have lived in, and I wanted to get in just after doors opened. I had a chance to grab a rare weeknight adult beverage, mingle with my Metal New England crew, and catch opener’s Death Valley High. It was definitely an odd mix of metal fans in the room, obviously brought out mainly for Chino Moreno and his new band Crosses or †††, and vis a vie his other notable groups Deftones and Team Sleep.
Death Valley High hit the stage and they seemed to have ten guys in the band, packed on to the little stage taken up with gear. It was really only a handful of dudes, but they had a stage presence you couldn’t help but notice. They we’re a wake up call to the crowd that certainly wasn’t expecting this. Front man Reyka Osburn, with his Adam-Ant ca. 1982 make up job, is a one-man tornado on the stage. Screaming into the mike, playing guitar, and just generally whipping the crowd into a frenzy, he certainly was entertaining. It took the audience a few songs to grasp the deft blend of Nine Inch Nails style arena ready electro-goth, alt- rock posturing, with some legit throwback 80s synth work, but I dug it right away. The burned through a bunch of songs from their debut Positive Euth (Minus Head Records) and even tossed in a brief cover of ‘Rebel Yell’ by Billy Idol that has people moshing. By the time the band was ready to leave the stage and mentioned it was their first ever show in Boston, the crowd gave them a big reaction, for a little known opener.
Normally a band like Nostalghia comes along and I am all about it. Those that read these reviews of mine, perhaps think of me as a meat-and potatoes prog-rock nerd and thrash junkie going back to my childhood. But on a normal day the weirder and more out of the box a band is, the more I am apt to give them a fair shake and check them out. I prefaced this all with a detour into Keefy-land because Nostalghia came on the stage and instead of setting an ethereal mood before the headliners, they sucked all the energy and good vibes out of the room. I just wasn’t feeling it, and by the bewildered looks in the room, many felt the same way. Likely in a different setting than this, I will give them another chance, but tonight they didn’t impress me one iota.
After getting some fresh air and a fresh beer I was ready for Chino and †††. Obviously the band is not just about Chino, but he does tends to be the focal point in anything he does, doesn’t he? The group is as much as Shaun Lopez (Far) and Chuck Doom’s as it is Chino ‘s pet project, the music being the sum of their combined creativity. Also much hyped is whether the band is a witch-house group, but I hate to break it to the sub-genre gestapo, they are not. Still, they hit the stage slowly as if we were at an art presentation, coming out one at a time to opening track ‘†hholyghs†’ as the final reveal. Chino is a smooth bastard if nothing else, acknowledging the audible oohs and ahhs from both sexes as he came out. It was an orgy of Chino fangirl and fanboy worship that made me wince with every orgasmic “I love you Chino!” cried out, but at least he lived up to it with his performance.
The band was excellent as they cut through just about every song in the bands catalogue. Chino, in this setting is more like a Jazz chanteuse or a 70s R&B crooner; adopting his breathy soulful feminine wail, for the club acoustics and improvising here and there with certain phrases. There is no cheating live with Chino as so many others do, and he was in fine voice. He certainly enjoyed himself here and frequently stepped on to speakers that brought him closer to the crowd, each time making a connection with the fans. The unsung hero of the band is Lopez, who laid down a wonderful torrent of droning guitar parts, and slick keyboard work. If I had only one complaint tonight it was the electronic snare sound of Dino Campanella on the drums. The guy is a powerhouse player and a fine performer. However, he alternated between two clackity clacking snare timbres that ranged from mildly annoying to grating on my last fucking nerve all night. Oh well.
Most of the night the audience was transported away between lush trip-hop and pop anthems, to shimmering post-rock flourishes. The killer set list included hits like ‘Bi†ches Brew’ and ‘†he Epilogue’, but also the underrated numbers like ‘Blk S†allion’. The simple stage set up with just the minmal giant crosses with alternating lights fit the music perfectly sparse. Someone should give their lighting designer a medal, because i have have seen folks go too far in the past. When they came back out to the steamy, packed room for the encore and did a cover of ‘Goodbye Horses’, I totally started freaking out and lost my shit. The song made famous by Q Lazzarus is famous for its inclusion in the film The Silence of Lambs and now has a big place in pop culture too. Being a massive fan of anything Thomas Harris, I went berzerk. The cover was totally unironic and worked well with the bands musical style. Closing out a fun night with ‘†he Years’, everyone was left exhausted and satisfied.
††† Set List:
†his Is a †rick
Nine†een Eigh†y Seven
Goodbye Horses (Q Lazzarus cover)
Nostalghia on Facebook
WORDS BY KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES
PHOTOS BY GREG WALKOWIAK