Torche, Big Business, and Helms Alee at Churchill's Pub, July 12


With Big Business and Helms Alee

Churchill's Pub

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Better Than: Staying home and watching Easy Rider.

As to be expected, most practitioners of stoner rock are pretty lazy. We don't care how blazed you are, man, but jams can not live on one-riff.

That's why Crossfade will always get behind Torche. Well, of course, we root for the home team. But additionally, by subbing out drone and instead casing their sludge wallop in a skintight spandex neon pop suit, Steve Brooks and company innovate by serving salt with sugar.

All three of the acts who performed at Churchill's may be located within a lineage of creatively fusing the melody and spunk of anthemic pop with the weight of weed metal.

Helms Alee opened the proceedings with the most intricate material of the night. Every member of this power trio doubles as a vocalist and with a male-to-female-to-female ratio, the potential for harmonies was high, and successfully exploited. Helms Alee's embrace of poppy metal is a feature of their larger program, a prog-hardcore-postrock fusion that was at times enthralling, and at times zzzzzzz.

Big Business were up next, and their set gave insight into the arc of stoner-pop's history.  Coady Willis and Jared Warren -- guitar and bass, respectively -- were part of genre pioneers KARP, an early purveyor of heavy music paired with highly melodic vocals, and both did time in big-room sludge band The Melvins. [And Willis is still in the Melvins.] These links were apparent last night, as Big Business roared a set laden with thick, chunky rock a la Nirvana's Bleach LP, with the looseness of 90s peers Drive Like Jehu.

After a fair deal of pummeling brutality, Torche's set felt like a warm marshmallow atop of a smore atop of a cheeseburger. Their set was a high energy, Best Of, run through of their catalog. The audience received the band with delirious aplomb, singing along with arms wide open with Brooks' soaring vocals, and moshing hard for the heavy parts. Stage diving, crowd surfing and straight up pushing were all in full effect. And with good reason.

Critic's Notebook

The Crowd: A nice hearty number of young adults, metal dudes and a handful of mosh bros with backwards baseball caps. Notably lacking were much of the South Florida punk and hardcore scene, a sure aftereffect of Torche's recent secret show (that cost $10 less) at Fox's Sherron Inn.

Random Detail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbY9ePebWB8

Overheard in the crowd: "Neil Diamond!," inexplicably shouted at Big Business.

Torche's Setlist:

-"In Return"
-"Across The Shields"
-"Cast Into Unkown"
-"Little Champion"
-"Without A Sound"
-"Exit Flagger"
-"Fat Waves"
-"Out Again"
-"Charge Of The Brown Recluse"

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