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Weedeater (live at The Underworld)

The Underworld, London
18 April 2011

From the very first beer-waving introduction to the crowd eagerly awaiting the return to what would seem to be their favourite London home from home, Weedeater arrive in cheery mood, lapping up the adulation and ripping straight into a fearsome “God Luck and Good Speed,” as powerful a statement of intent as any sludge-doom-stoner-rock band is ever likely to open a show with. Bassist Dixie hams up the eye-rolling, Jack-swilling and head-slapping goofiness, but as ever, his presence onstage is a combination of the leeringly weird and the snarling hardcore punk attitude squeezed through a mincer of Southern rock cavortings and high-kicking, four-stringed catharsis. The sound is suitably dense, and Shep keeps his guitar nonchalantly turned to 11 while shredding without seeming to move from the spot between saluting the audience with his beercan; and as ever, Keko is hunched over his drums like a bear poised to spring at them and devour the tom drum, sometimes seeming to disappear under the canopy of twin crash cymbals which he uses to ear-rending effect as his blond dreads fly.

They rip up songs from their current Jason… The Dragon album with a suitable mix of fury and heavy intensity, and introduce a new song with a cheery “welcome to the band practice” intro as they thrash through the set, each number greeted with horn-throwing adulation and occasional cyclonic moshpit action complete with a discarded trainer or crowd-surfer shot out towards the drumkit by the centrifugal force the participants seemingly generate. Highlights are their brutal version of Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s “Gimme Back My Bullets,” a song which Weedeater have claimed as their own, delivering it in a hoarse, tearing rasp of righteous anger and passion; but it’s a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors onstage to decide who opens a particular song which demonstrates the band’s onstage camaraderie tonight.

With Weedeater there’s not much chance that expectations of their shows are going to differ that widely from any particular previous gig; they do exactly what any good working sludge band will do, at maximum volume and with a charismatic nonchalance which belies the tighness of their playing. What with the combination of a surprising amount of humility at their rapturous reception, and their heartfelt invitation to the room to “get fucked up” for the final few songs, there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason not to take advantage of the opportunity the band offer the audience to do just that, and to revel in the experience of witnessing one of the finest live metal acts around.

-Linus Tossio-

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