Thursday, December 3, 2015

COC with Mothership, Saviours and Brant Bjork and the Desert Punk Band

Braving the spurts of flying snow, driving up to The Machine Shop in Flint, MI, listening to Banana 101.5 FM, the radio station reporting live from the event, telling listeners that tickets were still available for the show. The evening starts with a quick trip to see COC, also known as Corrosion of Conformity, a North Carolina band with a New Orleans frontman.

Reed Mullin greets me with a big smile. We talk about his rotator cuff surgery. The doctor guessed he may only get 70% of his range back, but he shocked himself and the medical world with a whopping 98% full function after the procedure.

Pepper and I chatted about his six-year-old and about my new book, a retrospective of my 15 years in journalism called “Interview Rock Stars.” There is an entire chapter of Pepperisms, and I told him I would bring him a copy in January, when COC plays with Deicide - with any lucky, he might actually write a blurb for me, instead of vice versa. Woody, Pepper and I walked into the club together.

Mothership was already on the stage, first on the bill. Mothership has that Texas guitar drawl, hard hitting but tightly composed with melody. They fit in perfectly with the rest of the bill, a great band to start off the evening; if you're not familiar with them, they're worth a listen.

Saviours is second on the stage. It's easy to get lost in the music. They have that more melodic style with a nice groove line.

Like riding a wave on the West Coast, as Saviours hails from California, their music you can hang ten to, bounce around metal style. The air is thick with smoke outside, left-handed cigarettes burning. You can't see where, but people keep commenting that they can smell it in the air.

Third band is like an acid trip. They have that slower feedback that builds into a crescendo. Fits the stoner vibe perfectly, as it is easy to get carried away in a riff, almost like a jam session.

Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band reminds of that saying, “the riff compels you.” They close their eyes tight, getting lost in the music. When their eyes open, you can see that surprised amusement, like where did these people come from, as if they had gotten lost in the jam and opened their eyes from the wormhole of the music.

When COC took the stage, the crowd seemed to thicken like a gravy. Wet, sweaty bodies, rubbing up against each other, chanting, erupting like a volcano when the first song started. In between songs, they chant, giving the love yet demanding the next song.

Reed may have said that Stanton Moore was a great drummer, but having the main four COC guys back together beats any replacement. There's an organic groove, that spark of originality that Stanton Moore sure as hell could not bring to the table when he tried replace Reed on a tour. Reed brings a serious playfulness, and his backing vocals are much stronger than Stanton's was; sorry Stanton.

Pepper maintains strength, commanding the audience with a take no shit and have a good time attitude. Woody has the rock star poses with comical expressions that touch individual audience members. Mike transcends, like he is playing on the astral plane, then snaps back and sparks up a fire, exploding.

They save "Clean My Wounds" for their very last song, dedicating it to their friends in Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was playing during the attack in Paris. Bubbles storm from the sky, and Pepper jokes, "those bubbles have acid in them." It would have been cool if they did, for they went into a long jam in the middle of the song, reminiscent of "Stranglehold," but with an originality that would make any hippie into jam proud.

Perhaps Stanton left some of his jam influence with the band. Mike and Reed hold steady, while Pepper leads a musical journey to the beyond and back, singing the return with a new undertone to the song. It only proves my respect for the band, way more versatile than the average metal band.

Marisa Williams earned her Master's in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University and is the author of more than 100 books. For more by Marisa, visit and Her latest book, The Murder House is now available on and Kindle; Carnival of Cannibals will be released by the end of this year, and in early 2016, Interview Rock Stars will be published.

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