Portland’s d-beat legends, Tragedy (feat ex members of His Hero Is Gone), linked up with black metal rippers Woe and Philly’s own Motör-charged crust ‘n’ rollers, Plague Dogs, for a bulletproof showcase last Friday at The Level Room in Center City Philly. The bill was hosted by renowned booking groups R5 Productions and up-and-coming Phonographic Arts who tag-teamed the accommodations and event hosting with seamless showcase. With only three bands on the bill there was no room for filler, as Plague Dogs stepped up to the plate with a ripping set that was pedal to floor from the opening gates. Plague Dogs fuse fast Motörhead-worship style riffing with speedy, d-beat laden crust, and a low guttural vocal attack that is a perfect mix for annihilation. You would never know these guys are one of Philly’s freshest bands. Plague Dogs have a brand new 6-song release that is streaming for free below and was recorded by Dan O’Hare (Total Fucking Destruction) at his Mark-It-Zero Music studios. Definitely a new band to keep an eye an on.
Candlelight Records recording artists Woe hit the stage and brought furious black metal offerings for a set that looked more like a test of endurance than a hobby. The tempos near relentless with an impressively fast and meaty presence that will surely speak to any fans of the genre. Lots of grinding drum action on the kit to compliment dense guitar and bass movements that see the quintet strain and ripple with intensity to hold the meter in this blackened ballet. The only hiccups in Woe‘s performance were some minor technical issues with the sound that saw the vocals and drum mics cut in and out, but left the band unaffected in its poise. On a positive note, the changes in sound structure allowed listeners to focus in on varying aspects of the individual musicians and varying techniques. Maybe it’s the music nerd in me, but I actually enjoyed hearing a few moments when the guitars and bass took the forefront as this triumvirate of string shredders keep some gnarly tempos cruising. We caught up with Woe founder and front man Chris Grigg for interview following the performance. We’ll be featuring the interview next week as Chris takes us through the band’s plans for the coming months with insight on new material and forthcoming release on Candlelight Records.
The room swelled to capacity as Tragedy hit the dimly lit stage for what was a massive gathering of music enthusiasts in one the US’s strongest crustholds. Philly gets down for Tragedy, as the band has had a long history of intense billings throughout the city. Many even make the trek down from NYC and surrounding areas to get the Tragedy experience in Philly.
The band ripped through scores of classics that spanned a prolific career, but also put a lot of emphasis on brand new LP, Darker Days Ahead, which was in hand for show-goers and marks the band’s first release in six years. In classic Tragedy fashion, the band’s new album came as a surprise on the opening nights of the tour, quickly sparking a word of mouth buzz that made its way to Philly long before the performance. Fans devoured the new LP even before the opening acts took the stage. This enthusiasm hit a zenith of emotion and energy as the band hit the stage and powered through, as the capacity crowd stage-dived, sang along, and moshed to no end. You have to give up it up for rare bands like Tragedy that make absolutely no attempt to become part of the online music revolution with a complete blackout of official internet presence, but still are able to remain staples of an underground niche budding with enthusiasm and excitement.
Don’t even bother looking for Tragedy on Facebook, Myspace, or Bandcamp. No official sites exist. At best, you’ll find some YouTube rips from fans that even prominent online mags are forced to circulate in lieu of an official source. Fans of Tragedy are thrust back into a time when word of mouth was the sole means to find out about a band and its current happenings. This can be a very good thing. In a world where more and more human interactions are being removed from daily processes, a culture such as punk, that was built on word of mouth exchanges of ideas and art, could use this kick in the ass. Tragedy are able to reinvigorate these classic elements of punk culture for those that remember the glory days, but also allow a new generation of fans to experience punk in a way often lacking when taken out of a basement show setting. In essence, with this refusal to conform, Tragedy perpetuate a social environment and atmosphere that is lively and an exception to most bills of this size. Tragedy is a living embodiment of a culture long passed for most bands and fans. While the album, Darker Days Ahead is a much slower droning composition of apocalyptic-metal than anything in Tragedy‘s d-beat laden catalog, the band’s approach is still what I think of when I hear the term “punk.”
Our camera-ninja/photographer Dante Torrieri was on hand to capture another stellar gallery for your viewing pleasure. And despite the light sources being closer to candle light than spotlight, Dante remained steadfast with no flash. We really don’t know how he does it.
Words by Joshua T. Cohen
Pictures by Dante Torrieri of Useless Rebel Imaging.
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Tragedy – “The Grim Infinite”
Tragedy – “Darker Days Ahead”