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Concert Review: Red Fang at Irving Plaza, NYC, March 25, 2011

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Unlike many of the cookie cutter hard rock/metal bands out there today, bands who often seem to be constricted by the strict aesthetic demands of their micro-genre-conscious audiences and thus doomed to careers that are nasty, brutish and often short, Portland’s Red Fang does things its own way.

Red FangFired up by my advance copy of Murder The Mountains, the band’s excellent new album of imaginative, grungey psych-metal for Relapse Records, I caught their early set on the New York City stop of the Metalliance tour, which featured a bewildering number of acts, topped off by alterna-metal vets Helmet.

Despite hitting the stage at the obscenely early evening time of 7:40 p.m., the band quickly created a palpable air of excitement as the decent-sized Irving Plaza crowd was drawn closer to the stage.

The Fang led off with “Reverse Thunder” and “Sharks” from their self-titled debut, songs which mix hard rock/metal and punk influences to great dramatic effect, bringing to mind the early days of west coast Seattle grunge, when bands like Soundgarden and Nirvana took the same influences and created something exciting and massive.

Of special note were the combined vocals of growly guitarist Bryan Giles and the more melodic bassist Aaron Beam, a beardy duet which made for a nice contrast throughout the show.

“Malverde” and “Wires,” the tracks that lead off Murder The Mountains, were given a back-to-back airing, and got a rousing reception from the crowd. The latter song–the band’s new single–is especially impressive, featuring an atmospheric “spaghetti western” style middle section that leads into a riff-roaring close.

The multi-dimensional “Wires” is proof-positive that Red Fang has it in them to transcend the musical inhibitions of many of its peers and reach for the stars.

“Humans Remain Human Remains” was a nice change of pace and another highlight, a bass-heavy slow burner reminiscent of early Soundgarden.  And the Irving Plaza crowd was very pleased to hear their repeated shouts for the rousing “Prehistoric Dog” granted for the show’s finale, the song’s Stooges-esque punk/metal meld having even the most reticent in attendance headbanging as the band brought things to a too-soon close.

This critic predicts that big things are in the future of Red Fang. See ‘em now and say you saw ’em when…

Setlist

1.Reverse Thunder
2 Sharks
3.Malverde
4.Wires
5.Humans Remain Human Remains
6.Good To Die
7.Prehistoric Dog

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  • Stephanie

    Love the Djuna Barnes quote – nasty, brutish, and short.

    These guys are terrific – even my black cats adore them, running to the stereo whenever I play ’em. Can’t get more honest appreciation than that!