Aftermath: Basses Loaded's Second Last Show Ever at Mango's

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Photos by Craig Hlavaty

There are lots of awesome things about the beginning of the holiday season. Reconnecting with far-flung relatives, old friends coming home to visit their parents and intermittingly sneaking off with you to run up a bar tab in between family excursions, and ungodly amounts of stuffing foisted on you by Mom.

Count one-off shows from dormant bands as another of Aftermath's holiday favorites. The Tontons have played two shows in the past month since lead singer Asli Omar came back home from school in New York City, including a surprise set during the Westheimer Block Party. Last Wednesday, we saw American Sharks play a show over at Boondocks to open up the long Thanksgiving weekend. Two days later, Basses Loaded brought their three bass guitar assault over to Mango's down the street.

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Originally active in late 2007 until the end of last summer, the members of Basses Loaded have all diverted out and blazed their own paths. Singer Benjamin Wesley is now a big-time solo act with this past year's Geschichte EP, and Mike Hardin is now the leader of not only the Sharks but also glam-balladeers Roky Moon & BOLT. Third bassist Lee Walker is off at college, and drummer Mike McBike still drums around town.

Friday night was Basses Loaded's second last show ever, which in Houston terms means "Yeah... see you guys in six months." Their first last show was for Boondocks' one-year anniversary party in August 2008. Unless there is a stabbing or super-sketchy women trouble, most bands will live to play another show again. It's too much fun, which helps accurately describe Basses Loaded.

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Aftermath's favorite instrument besides the drum machine is the bass guitar, so Basses Loaded has always been low-frequency heaven for us. All three of the basses have a different tone and grind, with Wesley's the most nimble and Hardin's the most dirgeish. Walker's is somewhere in the middle. The gumbo alternately brings to mind the crawling breakdowns of mid-period Fugazi and the slow jams that Death From Above 1979 all too briefly graced us with.

The hidden secret is that it is also very stoneriffic without being steeped in the black lights, dragon lore and creepy car worship of certain bad stoner bands. Hearing Wesley scream again instead of the ecstatic yelp on his solo stuff was fun to experience, after seeing him croon with two guitars in his hands for the past year or so. "Post-Apocalypto" brings to mind the Cars and Joe Lally having a thick-stringed sesh in a garage.

Over eight songs the band brought us back down to earth after a week of familial stresses, in the only way a band with three bass players could. Their last song "Toaster In The Bathtub" perfectly and succinctly matched how we felt all week. It healed our wounds and kept us from picking at the scabs at least for another month. Spring Break and Independence Day can't come soon enough. Bands can reform for MLK Day, right?

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