Southport Hall, built in a bygone era as an illegal casino, sits at the dividing line of New Orleans and Jefferson. An oasis of sound surrounded by bakeries, grid pattern streets, streetcar lines, and other “quaint” vestiges of old New Orleans. This former den of iniquity was to play host to the night’s proceedings. My companion and I arrived, as is usually the case, too early. Aside from a couple of venue employees and two guys from EyeHateGod, the place was a ghost town. As we waited awkwardly in the parking lot for the doors to be called, the first band were performing their sound check. The ground (and my car) shook fiercely from the thundering, distorted bass frequencies.
After the usual, predictable delays, the doors opened and the hall was quickly overrun with sweaty, smelly Sludge Metal freaks. My companion and I took a seat at a table that had been pushed next to the bathroom door to watch the first band. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t catch their name. Like something out of a bad television show, every time it was uttered some loud, calamitous noise prevented me from hearing it. This is unfortunate, as their set was very good. Their tone was clear and everything was executed quite well. The material came across as sort of a more extreme version of something Crowbar would have put out in the early 90s. Very entertaining, even if they were somewhat unappreciated by a good portion of the audience.
Up next were Enabler, a sort of Hardcore/Metal crossover trio. I must admit that I am not familiar with their material in the slightest. I don’t know if I was sitting in a bad spot, or if the sound guy dialed their mix in wrong, but apart from the drumming and the bassist’s backing vocals, their sound was muddled and blurry. If I can say nothing else positive about them, the drummer was very solid behind the kit, and I have to especially applaud him for pulling double duty with Ringworm. Unfortunately, Enabler were also not a particularly energetic band, remaining almost completely stationary during their set. As they left the stage, and the next group began setting up, we moved toward the front of the venue. We positioned ourselves right in front of the stage so that my cohort could try and take some photos.
Ringworm are band that I am somewhat familiar with in passing. This is mostly due to their members’ involvement with various other Metal acts. As the Ohio-based Hardcore/Thrash quintet launched into their first song, I immediately began to rethink the wisdom of my position. A few seconds in, some middle aged pit ninja caught me with a left hook right in the back. When I saw a fat gargantuan rolling toward me doing a windmill, I quickly made my retreat to a calmer area nearby so that I could observe the rest of the show without being smothered. Ringworm definitely got the crowd’s attention. By the middle of their set, there were so many people moshing that I could feel Southport’s hardwood floors bowing underneath my feet. Not only were they a surprisingly entertaining band, they were also the only band of the night whose material regularly featured guitar solos. A fact to which the frontman, James “Human Furnace” Bulloch, alluded during his banter. As the final notes of their last song faded out, my companion rejoined me and we settled in for the headliners.
EyeHateGod closed out the night with a set that consisted of newer numbers like Agitation! Propaganda! and New Orleans is the new Vietnam as well as some of the old classics like Masters of Legalized Confusion, Dixie Whiskey, and (my personal favourite) Sisterfucker. The band’s live tone is absolutely crushing. It’s like being beaten over the head with an aural sledgehammer. The mosh pit that had sprung up while Ringworm were on stage had grown to ridiculous proportions during EHG’s set. I watched as Mike Williams pelted them with half empty water bottles from the stage, causing the flabby pit ninjas to begin slipping and sliding all over the floor. After a certain point, it was less like looking at a mosh pit and more akin to watching a slew of flabby, bearded walruses slapping and sliding all over each other. I really could go on at length about some of the crazy shit in the audience during their set, like the couple standing a few feet in front of us making out the whole time (is the music of EyeHateGod sexy? I don’t think so, but that’s just me) or the random guy that walked up on stage and attempted to… erm… pass something to Jimmy Bower, but back to the music. I’ve been a fan of EyeHateGod for years, and this is the first time I ever made it out to a show by them, and I have to say they are definitely one of those bands that sound much better live than on record. Without the layer of static, you can hear just how tight and swinging Jimmy and Brian’s riffing really is. I’m also happy to say that Aaron Hill absolutely kills on the drums.
All in all a good way to waste some dead hours on a Friday night. Having enjoyed almost all the bands, it was definitely worth the price of admission. I also have to give a special thanks to my companion for staying through the whole show, even though she was on the verge of passing out. Also, if anyone attended the NOLA show at Southport Hall and knows the name of the opening band, please let me know. I scoured the internet to no avail trying to find it.