Who did the rain dance on Saturday night? The Spin has a bone to pick with you. Our plan to top off a sweltering summer weekend with some tasty heavy psych nuggets was going well until the bottom fell out a block from The Other Basement. We made a grumbling dash for the door, thankful for our trusty umbrella. Inside, we found genial hosts and a cozy, graffiti-adorned pad whose cleanliness was a cut above many basement spaces we’ve rocked in our time. In the corner adjacent to the drum riser, the tiny P.A. bumped hip-hop from its cinder-block shelf, David Shamban busied himself setting up the overhead projector for the Dig Deep light show, and a couple dozen fresh-faced youngsters nursed tallboys while the air thickened up from body heat.
Considering the heavy sounds making up most of the bill, the lack of heshers was noteworthy — it struck us that this could have been a crowd in any bar or basement, despite the backlit, 7-foot-tall rendering of Lucifer on translucent plastic watching over the proceedings. Unless Space Jam is the soundtrack to the new heavy metal parking lot, lines that were once quite solid have blurred more than a little in recent years. As strong believers in adaptation and evolution, we were happy to roll with it.
We’ve had the ladies of Churchyard on our to-see list since we heard their three-track debut in June, and our first meeting didn’t disappoint. Wringing out dripping hair, they kicked off the set with a well-timed song about pumping gas in the rain, with frontwomen Alice Buchanan and Meghan D’Amico locking together nostalgia-laced guitar-monies, propelled along by Rachel Warrick and Rebecca Cholewa in the rhythm section. Building on a base of spare and wistful pop, the quartet escalated into a wash of growling, dark and surf-infused rock, eventually leading to an impromptu mosh pit. Churchyard covered Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl” with as much intensity and more technical proficiency than the original, pointing up their own skill as well as how the song helped level the alt-rock playing field by never sounding “girly” to begin with. There’s much in their catalog that feels familiar, but with surprises around every corner, we’re stoked to have them on the radar.
Soon, it was time to put in the earplugs and warm up our headbanging muscles for Electric Citizen. The Cincinnati quartet delivered the promised “witchy '70s metal” with just the right kind of polish. The tones and rhythms might have been copped from Master of Reality, but there was more fury and fuzz-covered joy in this riffage than the last half-dozen Sabbath reunions put together. Singer Laura Dolan’s words were lost in the wash of guitar, bass and drums — surprisingly well-balanced, considering the size of the room and the size of the amps — but her commanding presence and delivery compensated easily. Awash in Dig Deep’s liquid glow, guitar man Ross Dolan kept the reins on his impressive chops: Always finding the right lick, he never stepped so far out in front as to diminish the group’s full-bodied impact. Hair flipped, invisible oranges were hoisted, and we were highly impressed as we retreated for a breath of fresh air.
Around 12:30 a.m., a pulsing drone alerted us that space ambassadors Ttotals (the first T is silent) were taking off, so we hustled back inside. Guitarist Brian Miles and one-man rhythm section Marty Linville refer to their thick and trance-inducing tunes as “outer blues.” As rock historian Byron Coley noted in his recent review of their 7-inch “Spectrums of Light” (print-only edition of U.K. underground music mag The Wire), this moniker is a little misleading, but it doesn’t matter much. The duo’s ability to turn any kind of noise into a syrupy drone is intriguing on its own, but it becomes a memorable spectacle when used as the backbone for their ominous Doors-meets-Spacemen 3 explorations. Several new songs were on tap, whose hazy memories will tide us over until their next appearance.
The crowd had thinned a little by the end, but The Other Basement was at capacity for most of the evening, which we took as a favorable sign for continued diversity in the scene. We’re looking forward to seeing different audiences merge together a little more, though — that’s when ideas will start to fuse and turn into something new. Satisfied and dripping with sweat, we made our way to the Spin-mobile and peaced out.