Big Business, Torche Fitzgerald's July 7, 2011
Big Business and Torche are the kind of bands that when you are talking metal with someone, and you drop the names and you get a blank stare, sweat forms on your back and you die a little. Like when a foodie finds out you haven't been to their flavor-of-the-month restaurant or your girlfriend finds porn sites on your cell-phone Web history.
It's a disappointment, but hopeful disappointment because you can always shove albums and albums of tasty music their way and they will remember you on their deathbed.
Along the line, we've probably seen each of Thursday's headliners in venues all over town, at least more times we can count on a free hand. The last time we saw Big Biz was at a Warehouse Live studio gig on a rainy spring Friday night back in 2009, and the crowd was sparse but full of diehards, smoking on the ledge out front in between sets.
We've been in the presence of Torche numerous times, at Rudyard's and the now-ghosted Walter's on Washington. We always remember being ambivalent about seeing them again, but once they start in, we stay put. Our dumb asses will never learn.
Thursday was Big Biz and Torche's first date on this summer tour, with Biz playing new material from a maxi-single they had for sale, plus a smattering of the hits from their last three albums. They began as a two-piece, but are now a trio, with new guitarist Scott Martin augmenting drummer Coady Willis and bassist Jared Warren. The original pair collaborate on vocals and now they have three voices out front.
The first two obvious bands that come to mind when it comes to the Biz sound are Blue Cheer and The Melvins. Willis and Warren are now members of the latter, and they share the same heaviness of Cheer. Willis plays drums like a lead instrument, and Warren is like an Afro'd wolf on lead.
You can fit their first two LPs, Head For the Shallow and Here Come the Waterworks onto one burned disc and it's good as a cup of coffee. There's thrash, sludge, and doomy stuff going on with a hidden angular bent. Thursday they played the most beloved cuts off those two albums, plus a few off of 2009's Mind The Drift, which saw the band sprawl out with guitarist and keyboardist Toshi Kasai. We didn't see "Easter Romantic" on the set list, which was a shame.
Torche comes from the robo-rock school of Queens of the Stone Age and Fu Manchu, and over the course of two albums and assorted EPs have cultivated a grand following. The band's lead singer and guitarist Steve Brooks was just in Houston not too long with his reunited band Floor, which begat Torche in 2005.
The cool thing about Torche, and the same can be said about Big Biz, is how they can coat the walls with sound. There's really no escaping the sound of a Torche show in a small venue unless you walk to your car and roll the windows up.
In a live setting, though, it's hard to pick out Brooks' distinctive bellow amongst the grungy crunge. Torche aren't too far off from some of the early-'90s Seattle bands, the ones that didn't make it to MTV. The stuff Jack Endino twiddled knobs on.
Personal Bias: Welp, we like leaving shows with stiff necks, and Big Business and Torche have been on the forefront of bands that make you hork down Aleve for over a decade now.
The Crowd: It was like a forest of hair, beards, jorts, black shirts, and... well, no wonder we were there.
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Overheard in the Crowd: Nothing. Everybody knew to shut the hell up and rock.
Random Notebook Dump: We snagged a sweet Beavis & Butt-Head-ripping shirt from openers Helms Alee. We got the money from our pants, huh-huh.