Live: Harvey Milk, "a baptism in tone and volume" | Music
Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Live: Harvey Milk, "a baptism in tone and volume"

Posted by on Tue, Mar 3, 2009 at 2:13 PM

Harvey Milk, Black Skies, Pontiak

Local 506, Chapel Hill

Friday, Feb. 27

Harvey Milk is a band to feel live more than see: Sure ,the unassuming trio, in its old jeans and novelty T-shirts (singer/guitarist Creston Spiers' read "Lord of the Strings"), was animated and personable on stage Friday, cracking smiles and spreading surprising affability from its Local 506 pulpit.

click to enlarge Harvey Milk's Creston Spiers: Oh, Lord. (Photo: Bryan Reed)
  • Harvey Milk's Creston Spiers: Oh, Lord. (Photo: Bryan Reed)

But it was hardly a visual spectacle. Then the music started, and it became clear why Black Skies frontman Kevin Clark, amid a tuning break, hurried his bandmates along: "Come on, we've got a show to see." His sentiment echoed that of a growing audience, all eager to hear Harvey Milk.

For a full hour, the Athens-born weird-metal institution trudged its way through a career-spanning set. A few hundred heads—all nodding involuntarily to the band's deep, rumbling pulse—cast their eyes to the stage. Chests rattled with the force of the amplifiers. The tandem of Harvey Milk's down-tuned, start-stop sturm und drang and frontman Creston Spiers' cavernous moan mines blues and drone, creating an impossibly weighty sound, a baptism in tone and volume. Milk's deliberate pacing and loud-quiet-silent-louder dynamic made its performance—save for cuts from The Pleaser, which Spiers declared "our rock album"—hard to describe as a rock show. The structural elements of the songs didn't fit the norm. Still, the feeling was the same.

The tar-thick heaviness of Harvey Milk proved an ideal counterpoint to Pontiak, who opened. The Virginia trio's psychedelic overtones lent a spaciousness and melodicism to its sludgy riffs without sacrificing heft.

click to enlarge Pontiak's Van Carney (Photo: Bryan Reed)
  • Pontiak's Van Carney (Photo: Bryan Reed)

If Harvey Milk were a glacier, slow, monolithic and uncompromising, Pontiak proved the groundwater beneath it, more fluid and prone to directional shifts. Both, though, seemed to have developed organically from atavistic elements, existing seemingly as they would in any era.

The same could not be said of local openers Black Skies, whose midtempo heavy metal—something akin to High on Fire's more straighforward material—offered plenty of glimpses at potential, but relied more on a highly kinetic stage presence from Clark. While certainly enjoyable, the set felt rushed and a bit misplaced.

click to enlarge Black Skies' Kevin Clark (Photo: Bryan Reed)
  • Black Skies' Kevin Clark (Photo: Bryan Reed)

Against the slow-moving, supremely heavy Harvey Milk, Black Skies feels like a punk band riding its riffs for three or four minutes before hurrying off to the next one. But, as Clark publicly admitted, they just wanted to see Harvey Milk—just like the rest of us.

Tags: ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music



Twitter Activity

Comments

Hello everyone here I am jerey williams from canada but base in the united states of America /california I promised …

by jeremy williams on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Most Recent Comments

Hello everyone here I am jerey williams from canada but base in the united states of America /california I promised …

by jeremy williams on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

I was proud to call him Uncle Willy cousin with the same birthday

by Blackfoot on Proud to call him Lumbee: Willie French Lowery, 1944-2012 (Music)

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Small crowds like the one in Utrecht The Netherlands where I was with my 7 year young daughter may be …

by George Hendriks on The blues of Randall Bramblett's career-long cult status—and the promise of his new Devil Music (Music)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation