Big tours with big names are great and all, but there aren’t many better ways to spend a Saturday night than packed into a tiny bar in downtown LA watching a show dedicated to some of the best underground acts the area has to offer. This was exactly how I spent last Saturday at The Lexington, watching an eclectic and jaw-dropping array of acts featuring Pendulous, Skyeater, (waning) and Misery Ritual.
The first, act of the night was Misery Ritual, who delivered a performance so staggering to me that I am still trying to parse out my feelings about it. My preference with noise artists leans very heavily towards ambient and drone of the more soothing variety, and though I do venture into more “harsh” territories every now and again, the harsh noise wall is something I have yet to wrap my brain around. This is not to sound disparaging; I certainly feel that harsh noise warrants merit, but I have trouble latching on to the sounds contained within. I always told myself it would be something better to appreciate live, and lo, tonight brought me my first chance to do just that. Corona, CA’s Misery Ritual began his set with a folding table full of pedals in the middle of the audience and ended his set crumpled on the floor over a pile of fallen electronics, flogging himself with a metal chain, and believe me when I say that everything in between these two points in time was just as wild as it sounds. The whole experience was caustic, unsettling, yet strangely cathartic. Coming out the other side of a set like this, I feel I am possibly a step closer to appreciating something I once thought just wasn’t for me. Thank you Misery Ritual.
Next up, after the chaos that was Misery Ritual, was Sacramento’s (waning). Originally a dark ambient and noise project, the band now plays a mix of thick, sludgy doom metal and hazy shoegaze. Keyboard washes shimmered over the heavy pounding of the rhythm section, and vocals ranged from mournful clean singing to impassioned screams. While I was not familiar with this band before the show, I was quite taken with their music. Doom and shoegaze together just makes sense to me, since both are dedicated to volume and thickness of sound, and this delivered all of that in spades. I would be happy to see this band any time they are back in Southern California.
Next on the bill was Skyeater. Seeing this band live was my introduction to them, and I have written in detail how that experience blew me away, so I was stoked to have the chance to catch them again, especially now that they are set to release their debut full length album very soon. Seeing this band in an even smaller venue than before only heightened the intensity of the performance; candles and incense burned, fog filled the room, and one member of the band performed standing among the audience, blurring the line between performer and attendee while making everyone in the room feel more like a part of the experience rather than simply watching it. To say this cultivated atmosphere enhanced the band’s brand of monolithic blackened doom metal would be an understatement. As it stands, I’ll have much more to say about Skyeater and their stunning full-length The Maw of Time very soon, but if you have the opportunity to see this band on their trek north in support of this album, I cannot suggest highly enough that you take it.
The last band of the night was Pendulous, who are also an act whose performances I have covered before. It’s always good to see this name on a bill, as the band does not play live often, so every time I get to see them play is special. Tonight’s performance was extra special, however, as the band performed a rare cover song for the occasion: a heartfelt version of Warning’s “Footsteps” in honor of the band’s recently (and unfortunately) cancelled American tour. Despite vocalist E.R.M.’s referral to himself as “a poor man’s Patrick Walker,” the cover song, and the rest of the band’s set as well, showed that Pendulous are still in top form, delivering the style of morose, melodic, and all out crushing doom that the band has made its name on.
Thus ended another spectacular night of live music in Los Angeles. Nights like these that celebrate underground artists and foster our community are nights that I am proud to make the trek out for. Thanks as always to the Elegy Ensemble for throwing together a night I certainly won’t be forgetting any time soon.