Aftermath: Balaclavas' Unsettling LP Release Even Upsets Backroom's Plumbing

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If you were at the Backroom Saturday night and aren't quite sure what transpired, don't worry. You aren't alone. Aftermath is still wrapping her head around the night too. We do know this: Dead Roses played, with our dear friend Ralf Armin on sax. Indian Jewelry's girls flung their hair around with wild abandon. And Balaclavas released a dark and moody LP, closing (we think) with the title song, "Roman Holiday." Maybe it had something to do with Indian Jewelry's sea-sickness-inducing strobe lights, or the almost pitch-blackness in which Balaclavas played, but we left the show feeling as though we'd just awoken from a strange dream, like we couldn't put our finger on exactly who was there and what happened. The two bands, along with openers Dead Roses, might not be everyone's cup of cyanide, verging more on the side of organized noise than accessible pop, but thanks to Dull Knife Records, Houston's slightly incestuous psych-rock scene is strong as ever (there's even a Wikipedia article about it placing the above in the same company as Jandek, so you know Houston's legit). In fact, Indian Jewelry has been serving as Houston noise ambassadors for a while now, even performing on WFMU to promote their 2008 release. All it takes is one look at Balaclavas' new album, featuring the infamous ancient Roman death scene, or their morbid concert poster to get the idea that Balaclavas are going to take you into a head space you might not ever get out of, especially when they sing, "All your hopes and dreams destroyed." During the show, even singer/guitarist Tyler Morris seemed oblivious to the fact that he was performing onstage to a room full of people, absorbed in his own music, crouched over his guitar, red bandana flopping over to cover part of his face. In the back, Armin filled in the high end on droning sax while Charlie "Chaz" Patranella and Brian Harrison added heat and heaviness on drums and bass, respectively. For a moment, Aftermath felt like she was stuck in that nightclub scene from Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, angels and demons all around us. The Mink's Backroom reopened just a few days before with a new floor downstairs and what Aftermath hopes are renovated toilets. We never got to find out, mostly because the line to get in was always five or six deep. Upstairs, the room was packed. Aftermath could barely weasel her way into the middle of the room to get a good vantage point of the stage, Towards the end of the night, one or two of the heads downstairs began to overflow, covering the brand-new floor in grey-water filth, which, oddly, added to the brooding feel of the night. Following the show, Aftermath chatted with a giddy Armin and exhausted-looking Harrison. "It was a rough show," Armin said. We thought the band sounded great, but in terms of emotional exhaustion, we knew what he meant.

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