Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
September 4, 2016
Review by: Andy Samford
Uncle Acid returned for their second Atlanta appearance, nearly a year to the day of their first at Center Stage. This show would take place at Terminal West, a slightly more intimate venue, in front of a smaller crowd than last year’s show. There was a lot going on in Atlanta this weekend, but if your goal was to have your mind blown and your face melted, Terminal West was certainly THE place to be. Though the crowd might have been a bit smaller, they were certainly no less enthusiastic, and being sufficiently warmed up by openers The Shrine and Danava, everyone was pumped and ready for the headliners. Though they are still touring behind their 4th album, The Night Creeper, the backdrop featured artwork from the previous Mind Control release. They opened with the slow sludgy shuffle of that album’s opening number, Mt. Abraxas, and the crowd began to bob in unison to the groove, quickly falling under Uncle Acid’s delicious spell. A bit of impact of the opening song was lost, as there was something obviously amiss with the sound, and after nearly 3 minutes, the sound guy finally figured out that the bass drum was on mute, or the mic came unplugged, or something, but once that was solved, it was quickly forgotten as the full power of Uncle Acid’s live sound took hold.
Frontman K.R. Starrs didn’t say much throughout the night beyond “how are you, Atlanta”, and the occasional brief song announcements. Most of the night featured one song right after another, barely giving the crowd a chance to catch their breath before the jumping back into another hypnotic, pounding groove, sometimes slower, sometimes faster, but always groovy, filled with loud guitars, dueling solos and Uncle Acid’s secret weapon, beautiful melodies with Lennon/McCartney/Lawless style harmonies deftly executed by Starrs and guitarist/vocalist Yotam Rubinger. Bassist Vaughn Stokes also contributed to the backing harmonies while holding down the rhythm with drummer Itamar Rubinger, whose swing is nearly equal to Bill Ward and Peter Criss in their primes. Mosh pits broke out, and the crowd was clearly whipped up into a frenzy. The first surprise of the night came with the performance of Dead Eyes Of London from the impossible-to-find-outside-of-Youtube debut album, Volume 1. Though a couple of songs from that album have been regulars in the setlist throughout the past, Dead Eyes Of London is a recent addition and to my knowledge has never been played prior to this current run.
Though Starrs didn’t say much, he had a commanding stage presence, full of energy, movement, and the occasional Blackie Lawless inspired hair flip. There was no let up of energy from the band nor the crowd as Uncle Acid ran through a string of songs from their breakthrough release, Blood Lust, including crowd favorite I’ll Cut You Down, which had the whole room jumping, head bobbing, and moshing. The band attempted to bring it down and add some dynamics to the proceedings for another surprise and recent addition to the setlist, the slowburn closer from Night Creeper, Slow Death. Joined on stage by a roadie on keys to add some of the atmospheric sound effects which are key to the song’s effectiveness, Slow Death was nearly transcendental. Starting quietly and building to a rapturous finish, the music took you along the journey of a soul trapped in a decomposing body desperately trying to escape, before succeeding and then being sucked into the light. Some momentum was lost at the beginning as several members of the crowd took the opportunity of a quiet number to have a conversation with their neighbor while they could hear themselves. Why someone would choose to disrespect the band in this way when there are 23 other hours in the day to talk to your friends is beyond me, but once the song began to build, Uncle Acid quickly recaptured the audience’s full attention.
The 11 minute death trip of Slow Death closed out the main set with the band leaving the stage to huge applause. The crowd chanted “encore, encore” which was never really in doubt considering the roadie spent the set break tuning the instruments. After a brief moment, the band returned, tuned their instruments again, and kicked into one of Night Creeper’s finest moments, the first single, Melody Lane. Desert Ceremony and Withered Hand Of Evil brought an end to the night, with the roadie joining on keys once again for the finale. At 80 minutes, Uncle Acid seemed to find the balance between not overstaying their welcome and leaving the crowd wanting more, especially one over-enthusiastic participant who loudly begged for Murder Nights between nearly every song, but in the end, was denied. Despite that one possible unhappy attendant, the crowd left with smiles on their faces, completely spent, with minds having been blown, faces having been melted, and beer having been spilled. With a couple years of regular touring under their belt, including an apprenticeship with Black Sabbath, Uncle Acid are at the top of their game, firing on all cylinders. Any fan of heavy rock, loud guitars, and excellent song craft would be advised to take every opportunity to experience Uncle Acid’s musical sorcery any and every chance they get.
Uncle Acid, Terminal West, 09/03/16
Waiting For Blood
Over And Over Again
Dead Eyes Of London
I’ll Cut You Down
Withered Hand Of Evil