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Twenty three years. That's a long time, and even more pent-up doom frustration. Luckily, Saint Vitus were happy to oblige the crowds at Europa on 10/16 by playing an incredible set of doom classics to an electrified crowd who spent their energy moshing.... slowly.
Saviours had already taken the stage by the time I made it to the packed (sold out?) Europa (I missed both Orphan and Bassoon). The Oakland band gave a predictably awesome and thrashy performance filled with Maiden-style dual leads, touching on both their recent Into Abaddon and their upcoming Accelerated Living. As much I dig their records, their magnetic live show is where it's at. Like the Cali boy he is, vocalist/guitarist Austin Barber spoke between songs in his heaviest smoked-out Jeff Spicoli.
"Who's ready for Vitus! Yeee-ah, brah!"
I was, and so was the crowd (no offense brah).
As Saint Vitus was setting up, Dave Chandler was checking his gear by riffing on "Nervous Breakdown" by Black Flag and it reminded me of their connection to the legendary band and SST Records. Signing to SST on Henry Rollins' advice, Saint Vitus were easily the diametric opposite of the hardcore and punk mindset that came along with the label; while everyone was pushing tempos to the brink, Vitus were playing at speeds infitely slower. The band played to mostly punk crowds, pissing off the bulk of them and creating a legend in the process. THAT is punk.
Save for a few wrinkles and hair that had gone monochrome, I'd venture to say that Saint Vitus was every bit as good as I would have imagined them to be. Songs that suffered from thin and hollow production came alive and rattled with power at Europa. The band was tight and did justice to their legacy.
Though it was great to see Wino JUST on vocals (he's usually an axeslinger too), taking an active role with the crowd by shoving the mic in their face for singalongs, Dave Chandler was the most enigmatic of the bunch. It's hard to miss Chandler with his shock of grey curls held back by a bandana; his look would have fit in with Lynryd Skynrd perfectly... in 1974. "Born Too Late", indeed.
70's look aside, Chandler would snarl, yell, feedback, and mouth the words while riffing at the speed of a tortoise. In between songs, Chandler would riff odd songs like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and "Batman" before transitioning into classic Saint Vitus tracks. Odd? Yes. Kinda funny and genuinely fascinating? Definitely.
Lets hope that Vitus gets the show back on the road. I hope to seem them again sometime very soon.
Full setlist and more pics are below....