Above And Beyond: Orange Goblin, with Gates of Slumber and Naam

Santos Party House, NYC

by Solomon G

Unfortunately, I missed local heros, Naam, partly due to an increasingly popular MTA vending machine scam perpetrated by NYC lowlifes and partly due to my own lazy ass. I was fortunate enough to have caught the entire set by Mid-West doom metal giants, Gates of Slumber (who, having just heard Naam for the first time, gave a special shoutout, to be echoed later by Orange Goblin).

I had pretty much no preconceived notions of Gates as a live act, but I had very much dug their music from the first I'd heard of them a few years back. I can now say this, however: they really bring it live. The songwriting I already knew was solid, serious and craftsmanlike - but they perform also with a conviction and skill many bands frankly lack. So the all-around experience of a Gates show was a very heavy surprise. (Not that I had any doubts about them, specifically, but one learns to not raise one's expectations too high.) Fortunately, although their mostly-new-material set was fresh to my ears, it sounded entirely badass if not exactly familiar, and they did a smoking rendition of crowd favorite, Ice Worm. Also, lead man Karl Simon's patter with the audience was really natural and not without comedic touches (which is always appreciated) - as when soliciting the audience for $2000 to distribute some out of print vinyl, but dryly not being able to accept confederate currency (which, if you didn't know, according to drummer, "Cool" Clyde Paradis, is zero). Lastly: their concert shirt for this tour has some of the best art I've ever seen on a concert T - grab one if you can!

I took my usual place just off front/center of the stage as the crowd thickened and intensified for the arrival of Orange Goblin. The house P.A. cranked AC/DC's 'Long Way To The Top…', which i figured would be the song that ushered the headliners onstage for their first gig of the 2011 US tour. Instead, right after, came the strains of Goblin - the '70s horror-prog act - and their theme from Argento's Suspiria. I seriously doubt many in the crowd understood the reference as there was a kind of palpable 'huh?' moment in the audience, but in mere seconds that was completely obliterated as Orange Goblin literally roared onstage in one of the most ferocious opening numbers in my personal long history of shows - and get this: it was The Ballad of Solomon Eagle! Ha! And I was wearing their concert shirt with the eagle on it! Get it? Huh? Huh???


Anyway, the intensity was fiery from the get-go and never really let up; for the remainder of the evening it was a blizzard of blazing riffs, beer, and one guy repeatedly stage-diving every eight minutes or so. He was really obnoxious and hated by all, but at least he knew all the lyrics. [This seems to be a trend at some of the New York shows I've been to so far: surly drunk super-fan taking out aggressions on the stupid fucks who might not know all the lyrics but are only there to enjoy and rock out.]

That notwithstanding, the show itself was not something even surly drunken super-fan could bring down. The band - though apparently having to borrow some gear from Gates of Slumber - were in truly top form and ready to party! You could tell these guys had been rehearsed to a fine point before boarding the jet to JFK, because everything was just how you'd want an Orange Goblin show to go off: loud, crazy, dangerous - and loud! It wasn't ten minutes before frontman, Ben Ward, had doused himself with several bottles of beer and water, and then blessed those of us up front with the remainder. The dude next to me must've thought that was a good idea, because he dumped half his beer into my boot right around then too.

The song selection was really a fan's dream for this show because there seemed to be selections from all phases of Orange Goblin's 15+ years as recording artists, with an emphasis on earlier material such as Aquatic Fanatic, Cozmo Bozo and Magic Carpet, but also with later rocking riff-monsters such as Cities of Frost, Round Up the Horses and They Come Back (Harvest of Skulls), though nothing I can recall from the Coup de Grace album (not a popular choice among the die-hard stoner fans, but I figured Made of Rats would be a ringer for sure).

Not that I, personally, ever need much encouragement, but it was great to hear frequent suggestions from Ward for the audience to "use [their] minds and bang [their] fucking heads!!!" To which my reply is always pretty much "fuck yeah!!!" \m/

So by the time crowd favorite anthem, Blue Snow, came around in the set, the crowd was both tilting toward exhaustion and catching a frenzied second wind. Which is lucky for them, because the show was nowhere near over. After a stellar rendition of Some You Win Some You Lose, though, the men of Orange Goblin bid New York City goodnight. However, we knew they'd be back.

They always come back - to take the living (heh heh heh…)!

The kind gents of Orange Goblin then pulverized the faithful with a three song encore of Time Traveling Blues, Quincy the Pigboy and Scorpionica. It was a fantastic encore that left the wild and appreciative audience completely satisfied, and afterward, much likewise grateful hand-shaking of the audience was provided by the refreshingly sincere dudes of Orange Goblin. I don't know how anybody had much energy left, but I had to dodge out of the way of a fistfight on my way out the door. When I looked at my phone, I realized the headliners had played basically a two-hour set

Above and beyond, men - and well played!