Honky – Desert Storm – Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers – Tower of Crows
The Arches – Coventry
3rd August 2016
Fighting Boredom were a little excited to say the least when we heard about this gig, a band with a pedigree like Honky were going to blow us away. Add in three more great bands and we were set. Adrian Bloxham and Martin Ward now just had to remember when it was on…
I nearly missed this, got all the updates on my Facebook wall as usual but also as usual got completely side-tracked by the date and nearly missed it. This is a joint presentation by two of the best Rock Promoters in Coventry, and one from Oxford, Fargo Tours, Buried in Smoke and RAWK. Two of which let me know about stuff but I still managed to almost miss it.
There’s a good bunch here, rockers, punks and the usual degenerates. Harris is on the door, purveyor of music of a certain taste and the delinquent DJ from RAWK’s excellent nights at the Phoenix. We turn up at half seven and it’s only about a quarter full and A Tower of Crows are on stage already. They are as heavy as you like with metal riffs and chugging nastiness. The band look like a bunch of misfits and weirdos but there’s nothing wrong with that. They have a weighty hip swinging boogie riff, loose limbed without a care. The singers old style microphone gives him a raw and rough at the edges vocal and he looks lost in the music, emotional and raw.
When they slow it down they get harder and tighter, it’s no nonsense good times hard rock’n’roll, a great band that will only get better.
Everyone piles out of the room and onto the patio, clouds roll across the sky and wind threatens to upend the bar umbrellas as people sit, smoke and laugh. There’s two dudes in cowboy hats with beards and huge grins wandering around laughing with each other and with anyone who talks to them.
Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers are on next. They slide onstage and sound check, riffing on nonsense and growling out snatches of Doors numbers, this band are a Fighting Boredom favourite so excuse me for a minute as I expound on their prowess once more. They start off and it’s like the moment when whatever it is you took kicks in, that clear as ice realisation when everything fits and it all makes perfect sense, until, thirty seconds later it descends into chaos and anarchy.
That voice kills me, it’s like gargling blood and petrol with the added pressure of smoking bad cigars and living in squalor. It’s an entity to itself and although I have said it before I will say again that the dude singing is far too young for that voice, it doesn’t fit, I have previously blamed time travel and possession, but I’m still really at a loss as to where the hell it comes from. The band play like there’s a full moon and wolves are howling. Tighter and madder than before they are lost in the music, heads are limbs shake, faces are contorted and they are leaving us all behind as they move into the sound.
They channel all the rock’n’roll nutcases from before, giving no quarter at all. The psychotic blues punk rock’n’roll boogies on. God only knows what these guys listen to at home, heaven help their neighbours, it moves to having no discernible lyrics at all, just vocal noises that are almost speaking in tongues and nonsense but it is still perfect. In the green light shining down the singer looks absolutely demented, and absolutely perfect for the sound. Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers, get on it.
Desert Storm have the unenviable task of following them on stage. More heavy rock sounding and more straightforward in their music too. They have a slow grinding feel, they do move into thrash but I like them better when they slow down and let the vocal ride on the music. That’s when they have more pent up aggression and power builds. They look totally at home on stage and the band are tight, the vocals angry but contained to match the music. A good band and they add their signature to the night.
Honky have been at the back of the room all the way through the acts so far, dancing to CDW, raising a fist to Desert Storm and generally having a whale of a time. This extends to them getting on stage. The drummer resplendent in black and the guitarist and bassist both in vests and battered straw cowboy hats with Honky bands around them. They get ready with the requisite amount of hilarity, gurning and laughing at themselves and the stage crew, then after a few chugs and drum blasts JD Pinkus shouts out ‘Are y’all ready to be brought down?’ and the massive sound of Southern boogie with an edge fills the Arches. It’s like ZZ Top with more whiskey and attitude or Skynryrd with a stupid sense of humour, dirty sleazy biker rock’n’roll that rips you up and makes you, and I mean makes you, move.
Maybe I should mention where Honky come from. Why I felt that we should be here tonight, it harks back to my mate giving me a Butthole Surfers tape years and years ago. They blew me away and the fact that one of them was in my home town meant I had to go. The same guy has also been in the Melvins. That’s right, the Buttholes and the Melvins, there’s got to be some leakage of that legacy into Honky right? JD Pinkuss didn’t disappoint. Bobby Ed Landgraf looked like he was goofing as much as playing righteous guitar, he is also in Down, of which several tee-shirts were in attendance tonight. Trinidad Leal from Dixie Witch on drums added the final flourish, battering the kit like a madman and treating us to several drum solos through the set. That kind of pedigree comes with some expectation and some pre-set ideas. You know what, they were spot on.
Did I mention that the dude has a flying V, reflective bass? That he plays with as much menace as Ben from Godflesh did last time I saw them, pretty much hammering it into submission.
They started out Southern Boogie but pretty much disintegrate into Southern Strange.
The spirit of the band is instilled in cheap whiskey and cheap thrills, they take rock’n’roll and kick the living shit out of it. It’s like they’ve crawled onto the stage to frighten the straights but instead found a room full of believers ready for this onslaught. They dedicate songs to people in the audience, raise glasses to us and sip whiskey, praise the other bands even if they can’t remember their name and generally seem to be having an excellent time.
The sound turns stranger and more violent, the guitars and bass batter us down and they turn into an aggressive bastardised classic rock band, the noise winding round us like a snake ready to rear up and bite.
It’s sleazy, dirty biker rock’n’roll or as JD says from the stage ‘Super Boogie Texas Rock’n’Roll’. As they finish the mood gets closer to violence and insanity, it’s barely holding onto the groove but it’s bloody marvellous. A powerful and unhinged extravaganza.
So, my ears are still ringing as I write this and the lead weight of weariness has settled in on me, touching the madness and the edges of the music we love always takes something from us but it’s always bloody worth it.
A Tower of Crows
Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers
Honky’s website is honky.net, they are also on Facebook.
Charles Dexter Ward and the Imagineers are on Facebook.
All words by Adrian Bloxham.
All pictures by Martin Ward.