Doomstress @ Township, Chicago (US)

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FOX45 / DOOMSTRESS / BLACK ROAD / SACRED MONSTER / THE COILS

Date: 03rd September, 2016
Venue: Township
Ticket:
$7 (€6)
Promoter: n/a


I came to the conclusion that almost all of the ultra-successful bands have become lazy when it comes to playing live (let alone writing music). You see, when such band is called to play in front of packed arenas, then the challenge is not trying to win the crowd but it just follows the already set schedule while being 100% professional. The key word here is “professional” and although I am perfectly fine with it (everyone has to make a living, right?), I find it less amusing attending ‘sterile’ shows which sometimes feel like it is all about the show (lights,, banners etc). Where I am getting with this short rant is that the small venue shows are still on top of my concert-going list because there the band(s) is totally “exposed” and in most of the cases has to fight hard in order to win a crowd (or just its attention). Pretty much that was the set-up for the Saturday-night’s billing hosted at Township downtown Chicago. And man, it was extremely difficult to draw a crowd, considering the number of shows set on the same day, so the time we entered the cozy venue, I don’t think there were more than 20 faces waiting for BLACK ROAD to hit the stage. On the other hand, there were no show-goers inside, but only people who were genuinely interested to see these bands.

The band from Joliet opened the set with the mid-tempo and easy-flowing “Ruthless” and secured our undivided attention with the smooth mix of vintage Hard Rock with a pinch of Jazz. Even though the atmosphere was not as vibrant as I’d like in a show, BLACK ROAD managed to break the ice and get the audience moving, and I will credit frontwoman Suzi Uzi’s Soul-influenced and Jazz-y vocals, the awesome Blues guitar leads (the Crybaby guitar effect is pure magic when it's used the right way) and the rock-solid rhythm section served by Andrew and Anthony, in drums and bass respectively. Well, to be perfectly fair, Andrew shed more sweat hitting the drum skins like his life depending on this and I think gave extra points in terms of power and energy to BLACK ROAD’s overall performance. “Narcisssist” worked like a charm and it was clear that the band had overcome the initial awkwardness coming from the sparse crowd and get their Hard Rock flowing like freshly made ice cream on a hot day. “The next one is a cover from our friends in Portugal, THE BLACK WIZARDS, said Suzi before “Back In The Town” that rocked us hard and underlined how good music players are the members of BLACK ROAD, before dropping the curtain on a high note with the super groovy and catchy “Red” where the transition from clean to distorted guitar gave the perfect Doom-y assist to DOOMSTRESS. Well done, boys and girl!

BLACK ROAD setlist:

01. “Ruthless”
02. “Time To Pay”
03. “Wasteland”
04. “One Dab”
05. “Bloody Mary”
06. “Narcissist”
07. “Back In The Town”
08. “Regret”
09. “Red”

BLACK ROAD

Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Black Road @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


Next on the billing were DOOMSTRESS from Texas and just based on the band’s name, you can easily guess what their musical whereabouts are but really, there’s more than this. After the drum-kit change and the appropriate tuning, it was almost half hour before midnight when DOOMSTRESS hit the stage. Alexis simply said “We are DOOMSTRESS from Houston, Texas” and let Doom do the rest of the talking with the massive “Way Of The Mountain”. The transition from BLACK ROAD’s relaxed and vintage Hard Rock to the granite heavy Doom of DOOMSTRESS was intense and kind of made the music more powerful but I should also credit Tomasz Scull who was pounding the drum skins like there was no tomorrow. There was some quality hiding behind the initial awkwardness with the audience still trying to adjust to the music shift from the previous set and with the band getting all the gears oiled and all the cylinders firing. With every minute deeper in the set, the band was gaining confidence that clearly was feeding from the lineup’s experience that had nothing to do with how Alexis introduced DOOMSTRESS as a new band… I mean, you don’t get that level of confidence and self-awareness from a lineup which was about to put the seventh gig into the books. Brandon Johnson and Joe Fortunato delivered the Doom double guitar harmonies with a pinch of heaviness, while Alexis was steadily getting her performing mojo, adding lots of emotion in the lyrics by “dressing” them with hand gestures and facial expressions, and the hair-raising “Apathetic Existence” is a fine example for that. With such energy coming from the band, it is impossible to stand still and keep a “safe” distance from the stage, so soon enough everyone took a step forward, so headbanging was next on the menu. The URIAH HEEP cover on “Rainbow Demon” sent shivers down my spine with the massive main groove and again, the most expressional singing.

“Sleep Among The Dead” hit us hard with its chunky NWOBHM-colored riffage, following DOOMSTRESS’ EP’s tracklist to the T, while the set ended with the fast cover on COVEN’s “Wicked Woman”, and I think left us wanting more, so I am sure DOOMSTRESS won some fans that night, included myself. Ok, I knew the band’s studio doings beforehand (and had heard lots of good words from my wife) but I think you agree that the stage is the best place to see what a band is capable of doing. And yes, DOOMSTRESS rocked our socks off and set the bar really high for FOX45.

DOOMSTRESS

Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Doomstress @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


I hadn’t done my homework before this show, so I was totally oblivious about the all-female band named FOX45. Sure, the band’s logo had a Stoner breeze wrapped around it, but that’s about all I had before their set. The number of people inside the venue had significantly decreased but I could see that it didn’t matter to these girls who were determined to do their show, no matter what. And this is what most of the big / dinosaur bands are missing; the hunger to play live, even if this is to happen in front of an extremely sparse crowd. Anyway, I won’t go back to my ranting/complaining mode and I’ll stick to the plan. After all the preparations, FOX45 woke everyone up with their strange mix of Punk guitar chords, hard-hitting rhythms and kind of Stoner backbone. Of course, this description sounds all over the place but it is the best way to describe what FOX45 delivered that Saturday night. The lead-singing time was divided between bassist Amanda Rampe and guitarists Pauline Coles and Vicky Tee, adding an extra flavor to the music, while most of the onstage energy was coming from Casey Learch who almost destroyed the kick-pedal sharing the same power with the previous drummers. Basically, this is the only complaint I can make for their set; the three ladies in the front looked rather disconnected and more than necessary focused on their playing and less on getting connecting with the audience. Ok, I am speaking from the safety of being off the stage, but in such set-ups, it is up to the band to get the audience moving. If I were to choose what tracks got me going, then that would be the set opener “White Lightning”, the riff-driven “Coup d'étwat” and the heavy Stoner “Urinal Acid” that dropped the curtain leaving the best of impressions for a band I didn’t ever heard of before.

I had a great time with the three bands I get to watch that Saturday night and without thinking much, I’d crown DOOMSTRESS as the winners in this unofficial race, although I can be a little biased considering that this was the heaviest band musicwise of the three. Nevertheless, it was a nice way to see DOOMSTRESS’ tour ending here in Chicago and hopefully the word will get out that there is still good music on the making in the underground circles, but you just have to place your coat aside and do some digging. Trust me, it is worth your time!

FOX45 setlist:

01. “White Lightning”
02. “Doominati”
03. “Coup d'étwat”
04. “Snake Oil”
05. “Caral Sagan”
06. “Urinal Acid”

FOX45

Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Fox45 @ Township (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)