The Music Snob
Your guide to D.C.'s live music scene

Metal Gods Not Playing Metal Fest 2009

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Last night's show at the 9:30 Club was kinda weird.

For some reason, when Clutch came back to D.C. on this tour, they chose to trade their hard rock and metal for their jammy stoner noodling alter ego, The Bakerton Group. Though heavier live than on record, the psychedelic blues rock still isn't nearly as essential as Clutch, but as an alter ego, it's tough to beat. The songs may not be as compelling, but the musicians are tight, and that's really what this is all about: opening up and showing their range.

Of course, you know what you're going in to. I figured the rest of the bill would keep the metal heavy in exchange for The Bakerton Group/Clutch's improvisations and indulgences. But Scott Weinrich took the stage alone with an acoustic -- albeit one running as much electricity as possible -- to sing a few songs. It wasn't bad -- though two covers, Joy Division's "Isolation" and the Rolling Stones' "Sway," were awkward and uninspired, respectively, even despite the latter's inspiring back story -- it just wasn't Weinrich. To have seen this man crush the stage in stoner metal outfit Spirit Caravan and heard him in terrific doom bands like St. Vitus and The Obsessed, and then to see him rather tame all by his lonesome was jarring. And I wasn't aware that his set was going to really be solo and not one of his Wino band shows.

But I finally got a chance to see local group King Giant, and I'm singing their praises. They played a great set, despite a couple of songs that lost my interest. The band is heavy and rooted in classic blues rock. Makes sense they'd be on a Clutch tour, and not only because they're practically neighbors. Both bands have heavy metal thunder sounds but just good old-fashioned hard rock songs, and both can turn south, with just a bit of twang, and go swamp metal. No one does that better than Clutch, but King Giant deserves their recognition, too.

Seemed like a destination show for the Rolling Thunderers this weekend. Dozens of bikes were lined up outside the club, and inside, the crowd just didn't seem to be D.C. at all. In a way, it was like I was able to get out of town for a bit of the holiday weekend.

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