The time had come for metal to return to Saratoga Springs. On Friday, Sept. 5, the Putnam Den held court for Jesus Christ and the Hallucinogenic Allstars (JCHA) monthly residency, where they bring the best in hard rock and metal from locals to bands up and down the East Coast. Unfortunately for this show, Surfacing from Brooklyn had to drop off last-minute due to vehicle troubles. The three remaining bands though from the local scene were primed to give up their offerings to the gods of metal, and to the wanting masses gathered at the venue.
First up was Crown of Vultures, from Albany. Formerly known as the band Vacant, they have a progressive, heavy sound reminiscent of bands like Tool or Chevelle. The singer did his best to croon in that vein over the music, but their set was lackluster. People were already milling about the venue as they took to the stage, but a dynamically flat performance did not grab too much attention. Not sure where this band might fit, but in the bulging heavy scene that breathes metal and hard rock, this band sounded reserved and gave an almost boring performance. Their set was peppered with some great driving riffs, but they were too few and far between, with some stumbles along the way by the drums. They are a budding band though, which has been re-tooled with new members, so look for them to hopefully coalesce into a powerful outfit soon enough.
Next up was Foaming at the Mouth, who flanked the stage with two towering posters, depicting a screaming girl writhing in the dirt. With that image in full display, the two-member band took no time diving into their first song. Guttural vocals being slung by both the guitarist and drummer, they instantly redeemed the show. Playing their own brand of crushing metal, with elements of death metal and grooving riff-rock, the sound paralleled to Lamb of God and Dying Fetus. With a brand new music video that dropped the same day and a new CD coming out in December, these guys are on a fast track to turn heads and melt faces. The absence of a bass player was never felt, as the onslaught of sound and technical prowess of the guitarist won the crowd over, gaining huge responses after each song. Both guys looked at ease and truly enjoying being on stage, even covering a Death song almost flawlessly.
Resident pushers of all things stoner rock, JCHA prepped the stage with all their tricks. They took their traditional whiskey shot onstage, served by their bearded bartender-slash-light tech. They then launched into a barrage of sound and laser lights that instantly took over the audience. The band commanded the best sound of the night from the Putnam Den, but the vocals of bassist Dustin were a little overpowering at times, losing the drums in the mix. But these were only small technical problems that were made up for by the energetic performance the band produced. Jon, the guitarist, showed the crowd his brilliant talent through precise riffs and big solos. Ross beat his drums like they owed him money, but kept the floor held down throughout the performance. Dual vocal harmonies from Dustin and Jon, and well-timed lights and smoke brought the performance higher than a casual listener might have anticipated. At one point, during a cover of “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent, Jake the bartender stepped out from behind his stage bar to mix a drink in the faces of the audience, adding to the intense fun being had by the band on stage.
They raffled a beautiful piece of art from local artist Alexis Herzog, who paints live during their set. The only downfall was that the stage lights were too dim to make out the piece being raffled, and she was working on the side of the stage in virtual darkness, making it hard to see what she was producing. There was still a good crowd as the show went on past 12:30 AM, and JCHA livened it up by unconventionally launching into three cover songs in a row. The fans that remained were still hungry for more, and they graced them with a brand new song as their final offering of the night.
JCHA will be performing again Sept. 12 at Monirae’s in Pennelville, NY, as well as Sept. 19 at Sharpshooters in Amsterdam, NY.
Setlist: Greed Makes You Fatter, Great Sage, Stranglehold, Late and Lost, The Mountain, Extension, Never Clean, Bear Steak, Green Machine, Children of the Grave, Ommision, Dying in Leather