It Is What It Is with Weedeater at the Camden Underworld, 8/3/15

Photo credited to Paul Chapman

Photo credited to Paul Chapman

Besides being a fan of Weedeater’s unrefined bucket of sludge metal, I had seen photos of them playing live, and needed to find out if they sounded as feral as they look.

I’ve only listened to two of their four albums and God Luck and Good Speed consistently, so I’m only able to name a couple of the songs from their hour long (I think) set. Yet from the first wail of feedback my attention was captured and placed wholly inside the riff.

Drummer Travis Owen, who had his drum kit set up at the front of the stage at an off angle, and guitarist Dave ‘Shep’ Shepherd, played with an aggressive swing, the beat dragging like wellies through clay at times, particularly on God Luck and Good Speed. But really, I spent most of the show watching bass guitarist and vocalist Dave ‘Dixie’ Collins. I’m pretty sure he was wasted by the time he walked onto the stage, and his first words to the crowd, over thick feedback, were ‘We’re Weedeater, we fuckin suck, go get your money back, you stupid assholes’.

Every song started with feedback, every song had Collin’s screeching, cackling vocals, over lumbering, heavy blue riffs, vibing Black Sabbath, and the bass was really, really distorted all of the time. Collins played his grime and gaffa tape–covered P Bass to the effect of it having equal prominence to the guitar, with Geezer Butler–esque lines being struck around the middle third of the fretboard. Everything emanating from the stage was either distorted or the sound of a drum being slammed, fuelled by some compressing volumes.The support act could be seen looking on and smoking a joint just offstage, and I closed my eyes a few times, wandering off into the noise.

Seeing a band like Weedeater live really reminds me of how weird most people think this sort of music is, and this was visually complemented by Owen constantly backflipping his sticks, Shepherd’s graffiti–covered Les Paul, and Collins spending a probably medically–inadvisable amount of time pulling his signature cross–eyed, gurning bass face, and doing this unfathomable thing where would spin his cap around on his head. Between songs he took long slugs on a rapidly emptying bottle of Jack Daniels, and greeted the demands of ‘wooo….one more song…yeargh!’ with ‘We’ll give you ten more songs…tomorrow, in France’. In spite of the misanthropic lyrics (‘Untied we stand/mankind is unkind, man’), vicious levels of distortion and mocking of the audience, when asked by my friends what I thought afterwards, I found myself saying ‘…they’re quite a funny band really’. That, and even more feral–sounding than they look.

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