(The photo in it’s original context here)
A couple of weeks ago on a Friday evening I was feeling pretty blue and in an unbelievably timely fashion, my friend Adam (a.k.a. Domer) gave me a call to let me know that he and his friend Hilton were going to check out O’Death at the Mercury Lounge later that night. Normally this might not have registered, but it just so happens that when I went to see Nous Non Plus a while black O’Death came on two sets later.
What I remembered from that very first encounter can only be described as pure intensity. These guys clearly fell into this really interesting niche in the Alt-country, Bluegrass, Punk area that they inhabit (as though that’s not niche enough). There seems to be some aesthetic carry-over from a lot of the other genres that seep into Country to form the Alt-country sub-genre. Most often these are vestiges of Punk. But in the case of O’Death and some other bands (perhaps the Handsome Family and Puerto Muerto as well) there seems to be this Death Metal vibe that comes through in various shades. In the case of O’Death I’d have to say this shade is black. These guys have a serious dark vibe that comes through, especially in the shreeky, whispery vocals. The crew I was with when they came couldn’t handle it (perhaps in contrast with NNP’s Faux-French Power Pop) and we left.
Needless to say I wanted to come back for more and so I met up with Adam and Hilton and some other kids where we were comped and drank beers and listened to an excellent set by Salt & Samovar who did an excellent even slower than usual cover of Hank’s Ramblin’ Man. The energy when O’Death came on was palpable. They have this local following (I think originating from their college days at SUNY Purchase) that comes out strong for each show. These kids were definitely ready for O’Death and O’Death was definitely ready for them. They just came ready to play in a way I’ve seen very few bands ever achieve. It was bananas. Bassist – no shirt (normal). Lead singer – no pick. Violinist – (after a few songs) no strings, literally sawing with wood. There was moshing . . . at Country show. “Lay Me Down,” a favorite of mine and the crowd as well it seemed was particularly charged. All of this energy is stacked on top of this dark charged Country tinged lyrics. They seem to play about once a month in the city. I seriously recommend the show because their studio stuff just doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing.