Live Review: Conan/Serial Hawk/Fistula/Drude – 5th Quarter Lounge – March 2, 2016
My favorite place to see a show in Indy is The 5th Quarter Lounge, and they have been booking some absolute stellar ones over the last few months. This past Wednesday saw Liverpool’s mighty Conan bring their epic brand of ‘Caveman Battle Doom’ to town. This is only the second time Conan has toured the US—they did a handful of dates last year leading up to their appearance at Maryland Deathfest—and their first time coming though the Midwest, so I was particularly looking forward to this one.
Drude (fka Burn the Army) kicked off the evening’s festivities with their distinctive brand of progressive stoner/post-metal, and they set the bar pretty high for the rest of the night. These guys are quickly becoming my favorite local band, largely because their sense of songcraft is so strong; these dudes have riffs for days, and they’re particularly skilled at building and releasing tension through their lengthy compositions. I know that most people tend to try to skip the local openers on shows like this, but Drude is worth showing up early for; next to Conan, their set was probably the highlight of the night.
I don’t feel like I should say too much about Fistula, mostly because their sludgy take on doom generally isn’t my thing, but I did notice that there was a real buzz around the 5Q leading up to their set. Singer Dan Harrington is an engaging frontman, so I ended up enjoying them more than I thought I would.
Serial Hawk’s set can be summed up in one word: loud. They were, without a doubt, the single loudest band I’ve ever seen live: louder than Sleep, louder than Swans, just painfully fucking loud. Even with earplugs, it was almost too much to take. Aside from sheer volume, though, there wasn’t much remarkable about their drone-heavy set. I think my buddy who I went to the show with summed their set up best: if you’re going to play one riff for five minutes, it’d better be one hell of a riff. They were good, but not great. In fact, the best part of their set was drummer Justin Rodda, whose work behind the kit gave the set almost all of its energy.
The first thing I noticed when Conan took the stage was an unexpected female presence; not sure why Chris Fielding didn’t make the trip over, but Samothrace’s Renata Castagna is filling in on bass/low vocals for this tour. Not that it really mattered—Conan has always basically been Jon Davis and a revolving rhythm section, anyway, and Davis and company tore through an immensely enjoyable, high-energy set that drew primarily from the band’s two most recent releases, Revengeance and Blood Eagle. I’ve always enjoyed Conan on record, but seeing them live gave me a new appreciation for Davis’s guitar playing in particular; his riffs rival what Matt Pike’s been doing in High on Fire. They probably played for at least an hour, but their set felt like it was over in ten minutes. I would definitely go see them again.