Monday, September 27, 2010

Concert Review: Torche, Hellas Mounds and The Silence Within at Martini Ranch on 9/26/10

Much like their studio albums, Torche's concert last night at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale was energetic, rollicking, blissful... and frustratingly brief. In their penultimate headlining show before joining up with the High on Fire/Kylesa tour that kicks off this Wednesday, Sept. 29 in San Francisco, Torche played a roughly 30-minute set to a small but appreciative audience. Vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks was clearly having a blast, grinning from ear to ear and even striking the occasional cock rock pose as the band steamrolled through a set of material old and new. Despite the show's brevity, Torche managed to pack a lot of music into the half-hour set, keeping the stage banter to a minimum and sticking mostly to their trademark two-minute "doom pop" staples.

Brooks' vocals were spot-on, and the band's sound was crisp and full as a three-piece, rarely missing the additional guitar work of departed guitarist Juan Montoya. The short set is probably due to their status as openers on the aforementioned HoF tour - this headlining run was only a five-date trek that took them across the southern half of the country, starting in New Orleans and wrapping up with tonight's show in Los Angeles. If Torche have any kinks to work out, they certainly weren't evident last night, whether the band was performing tracks from their latest EP, Songs for Singles, or closing the set with older tunes featuring the infamous "bomb string" that figured prominently in their early work.

Locals Hellas Mounds preceded Torche, playing a 20-minute set of ethereal, instrumental post-rock. With three guitarists, a keyboardist, bassist and drummer, Hellas Mounds created an impressive wall of sound that would sound right at home on Torche's label, Hydra Head Records (hell, perhaps moreso than Torche themselves, even).

Another local act, The Silence Within, kicked off the show with an energetic set of mainstream metal. Despite not sharing much in common with the two bands that followed, TSW overcame some early technical difficulties and played a strong 20-minute set that seemed to draw the biggest response from the under-21 section of the venue.

Overall, this was an excellent show, even if it ended too soon. As much as I'd have loved to see Brooks and company rock out for an hour or more, a half-hour of Torche is still better than a 90-minute show from damn near anyone else.

Click here for the full High on Fire/Kylesa/Torche itinerary and an interview with Brooks.

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