with Ophiuchus and Kaustik
Live at September 6th 2013
The Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood CA USA
Live Review and Pics by Metalette
It’s always great to be at the Whisky a Go Go on a Friday night. While standing in line to get in, or grabbing a pre-show slice of pie from Frankie and Johnnie’s pizza up the block, you really get to experience all the weirdness that the Sunset Strip has to offer. There’s a yuppie-or-something club nearby (do people still say “yuppie”? I do…), an Irish pub which I have yet to check out, the Hustler store across the street, and average LA joes taking their Lamborghinis for a casual cruise back and forth on Sunset a few times, or walking their large, exotic dogs haughtily down the Strip. And lest we forget the constant stream of tourist buses slowing down to take pictures of the Whisky, as well as flash devil-horns (as if they even know what they’re doing) at the string of less-than-impressed metal fans who are just waiting to pick up their tickets at will-call.
It was on such a Friday night as this that Colorado thrashers Havok rolled into town, bringing the greater LA-area metal scene together for a nose-busting, neck-spraining good time. I had the pleasure of interviewing Havok lead guitarist Reece Scruggs before the show, and then I grabbed a piece of pizza on my way into the Whisky – never mosh on an empty stomach, kids! (Or maybe you should…)
The opening bands, of which there were a good amount, played great sets. A large audience built up pretty quickly, which proves that LA metalheads not only rally for well-loved headliners like Havok, but for their local scene of bands as well. I arrived in time for Ophiuchus’ set – an excellent young band who I personally think are on their way to going far in the scene.
To be honest, I only knew that I was seeing Havok that night; the rest of the bands were a surprise to me. So when LA metal kings Kaustik took stage as second-to-last act, I was so stoked. I love Kaustik – they put on a thrilling live show and their music is pure, raw, and everything I crave about heavy metal. They also have a dedicated fanbase – so dedicated in fact that they won the LA Battle for Mayhem and played Mayhem Fest dates this year. I was really feelin’ those same, dedicated fans during their set. Literally feelin’ them; I was in the front row and they were squashing me. That’s fine and cozy unless you’ve got a camera to protect, though I did truly love the passion these fans were displaying for Kaustik. One guy was requesting Freebird for a while until the guitarists started playing the opening notes of the song, and singer Robbo said they’d actually play it only if the audience would sing it. No one actually knew the lyrics of course, so Freebird was not played on that fine evening. But all of Kaustik’s face-melting music was, so hallelujah!
Holding my ground in the front row during Havok’s set was one of the most intense experiences of my life. Oddly enough the hardest part was keeping a girl who was way smaller than me from squeezing me out of my spot. But I tell you, seeing Havok up close and personal is a must. Though I rather imagine seeing them from any corner of the venue would rip you a new one, being in the front row was a damn experience. They put every single shred of energy they had into their amazing stage-presence – never a dull moment for you or your neck. Their music is perfect for playing live and loud, and the extra bits they threw into their songs onstage were a real treat, like a tribal-esque drum interlude from drummer Pete Webber. And talk about fans – the love for this band in the room that night was tangible. Many endearing calls of “Papa Sanchez!” to singer David Sanchez were made, as well as requests to play favorite songs. And every time Havok began a song, everybody in the room went berserk. I did eventually move a few rows of sweaty humans back from the stage, though then I was part of the wall around the almost-continuous circle pit, so I’m not sure that was any safer for my camera. But it was pretty fun. That Freebird guy started requesting, well, Freebird again, and bassist Michael Leon grabbed his mic and said, “Ain’t happening!” Oh well, maybe someday. Havok knew how to work a crowd and make a good time for everyone. At one point “Papa” Sanchez threw an emptied water-bottle into the crowd and full-on hit a guy in the face with it. Sanchez then shouted, “Take that, mother f**ker!” to everyone’s amusement, including the victim of the bottle who was obviously quite honored by the whole incident. Havok left stage before everyone was ready for them to, and of course played an encore. Anyone who hadn’t let their hair down up to that point certainly did then. The whole event was exactly the way I like to spend my Friday nights, including getting skin gouged out of my arm and hair literally ripped from my head. Long live heavy metal. Oh, and all the guys from Havok have wonderfully long hair. ALL of them! I mean, what more do you want from a band?