Coliseum / Sweet Cobra / Burning Love - live in Chicago (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Coliseum / Sweet Cobra / Burning Love

live in Chicago (2010)

live show

It's rare these days that a new album can grip me so hard that I learn all the songs and the words in just a few weeks' time. Such is the case with Coliseum's latest, House with a Curse. And when I heard they were playing a show in my town with local heavies Sweet Cobra, well, I just had to make the trip and see this happen live.

Fight Amp are from New Jersey, and started out the show with some crushing riffs and heavy rhythms. Repetitions, sludgy tones, yelling--all the aspects of some solid rock 'n' roll music. I do have to say, though, that seeing them live probably wasn't the best way to first experience their music. Their guitars weren't coming through the PA very well, and it was hard to really get a good feel for their songs. But their drummer was a beast. A good way to start the evening off.

Burning Love, well, let's imagine something for a moment. Let's imagine that Hank Rollins spent a good portion of his youth listening to Motörhead albums instead of the Stooges and the Ramones. Blistering riffs, non-stop onslaught, and a singer who understood the meaning behind the term "stage presence." Antics aside, the band pummeled its way through its set, and caused the crowd to reevaluate their planned merch purchases at the end of the night. Definitely a live show you can't pass up if they're coming to your town.

Sweet Cobra took the stage after that--the first time I've seen them as a three-piece. After opening with "Jackals and Arabs," and before closing with "Leviathan," the band took time off from animal-themed, crushing sludge songs for a bevy of new material. The sheer wave of sound that this band generates is ungodly. Among the new tracks were a few D-beat tributes, a new harmonics-driven pounder and hint of extra melody thrown in for shits and giggles. I wish I would have known more of the songs, but then again, "Jackals and Arabs" and "Leviathan" are clearly the fan favorites (and the best songs they've written), so there's no reason to complain. This new album, it seems, will destroy the competition come fall.

And then we get to Coliseum.

I've got a thing for bands that break the rules. Almost all of my listening habits these days come from Melvins catalog exploration. And while Melvins had an integral role in creating sludge metal, drone music, and general ambient weirdness, at their core, they're still just a punk band doing whatever the hell they want to. Ryan Patterson said something to that same effect at the end of the night about Coliseum as well.

And so the band's shift from thrash-inspired D-beat hardcore to angular, melodic, post-hardcore rock and roll music is a bit jarring. But man oh man, to see those excellently crafted new songs played live is a whole other story.

I've got nothing but utmost respect for bands that can record an album, and then take the stage and produce a live sound that is exactly the same as that which had been put to tape. Seeing Coliseum take the stage and open the show with the first three tracks from HWAC was spell-binding. It really was. The band played most of their new album, from start to finish, with detours to some songs I didn't recognize off No Salvation, and a few oldies from their self-titled album as well. I was a bit let down that they didn't play "Isela Vega" or "Perimeter Man" live, but both those songs had a variety of guests helping perform them on the album, and are generally slower songs. Maybe they wouldn't translate live the way Ryan would want them to.

As a consolation prize, a guitarist from Burning Love took the stage to play second guitar on "This Mind Locked Inside This Body," the oddly melodic track off the band's self-titled, and they also played "Detached." But as much as I was dying to see those songs played live in 2004, compared to the band's new material, the songs seemed almost lifeless. I'm not sure if that speaks to the absolute fantastic quality of their new material, or to my shifting taste preferences. Who knows?

In either case, the show was just an absolute fantastic performance, and further proof that House with a Curse really is one of the best albums so far in 2010.