Last Night: O'Brother & Junius At Warehouse Live
Check out our slideshow from O'Brother and Junius last night.
Maybe it was the gloomy, chilly weather and maybe it was the scads of cold medicines we'd been taking all day, but Rocks Off found ourselves in a weird headspace on Sunday night. It was a very quiet evening; the whole city seemed to be asleep, preferring to stay warm and well clear of the nasty drizzle hanging in the air.
Dreary and isolating as conditions were, it was the perfect, sleepy night to experience O'Brother and Junius, two heavy (really heavy) rock acts with a taste for exploring the unknown boundaries of the unconscious mind.
Local openers The Tempest kicked off the rock at Warehouse Live on Sunday night with a high-energy set of thrashing metalcore, but there would be no windmill kicks on display in the audience. The small crowd that turned out Sunday night hadn't driven downtown to mosh.
Instead, the PA system in the Warehouse Live lounge temporarily became the city's largest pair of headphones as concertgoers allowed gentle currents of guitar distortion to wash over them, carrying them deep into Inner Space.
Entirely too many heavy bands these days have fallen in love with unintelligible grunting. Sure, screaming and growling certainly have their place in extreme rock, but Junius' singer/guitarist Joseph E. Martinez made it clear straight off the bat that this wouldn't be that kind of show.
He may have stayed partially hidden behind a bushy beard and sweatshirt hood, but Martinez sang out strong and clear, his voice floating like an inflatable life raft on a vast ocean of overdriven guitars.
As the Boston outfit delved into cuts from their Prosthetic Records debut, Reports From the Threshold of Death, rippling swells of distortion rolled together to great hypnotic effect. The squalls of noise on tracks like "Dance on Blood" recalled the music of White Pony-era Deftones and post-rock voyagers Jesu, inviting listeners to arch their backs and drift away painlessly on the currents.
The soft and dreamy potential of excruciatingly heavy rock was explored further by Junius' co-headliners, Atlanta's O'Brother. The band's Southern roots notwithstanding, their music has precisely jack shit in common with the roots-music forming the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou. O'Brother's musical roots don't stretch back nearly as far.
Instead, their sound is infused at its core with the music of '90s alternative acts like Smashing Pumpkins and the Pixies. Alterna-rock is just a starting point, however. The band's triple-guitar lineup allows it to expand and collapse the music's thickness and intensity dramatically, letting songs breathe and swell.