On Friday night, October 23, one of the most buzzed about rock and roll concerts of the fall pulled into town, with Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity lighting up the Boise Knitting Factory. Either band could headline this event, but both bands together are a heavy rock fans dream. Clutch has always had a strong following in the Treasure Valley, and it’s been over a decade since Corrosion of Conformity has performed here as a quartet. The air in The Knit crackled with anticipation.
Kicking the show off, were SoCal proto-metal trio, The Shrine. Throw three young retro hippies on stage and crank up the old school wattage and you get a band that recalls elements of Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer, and Dust. The band hails its sound as psychedelic violence, which is not too far off course. Fronted by guitarist and vocalist Josh Landau, properly attired in leather jacket and bandana, The Shrine delivered a 30-minute set of riff-driven debauchery that concluded with a 10-minute closing jam. It was all great fun, though on many of the songs the lyrics were so repetitive I renamed the band, Beating a Dead Horse. The Shrine is touring in support of its upcoming Century Media Records release, Rare Breed. Check out the video for “Death to Invaders” here.
Corrosion of Conformity fans have long awaited the return of frontman Pepper Keenan to the fold, and seeing the band once again as a quartet is a rock and roll right of passage. The band served up a finally tuned set or raucous classics for the enthusiastic crowd. The set’s nine tracks heavily favored the band’s 1994 album, Deliverance. They performed four songs from that record including the show opener, “Heaven’s Not Overflowing” and “Seven Days”, as well as their two biggest hits, “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds”. Two tracks were played from 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer; “13 Angel’s” and “Who’s Got the Fire”, the latter of which Keenan dedicated to The Shrine. Two of the night’s highlights included “Vote with a Bullet” and Paranoid Opiod”. They also played “Wiseblood” to round out the set. COC’s intensity on stage was contagious with Keenan riling up the crowd, and guitarist Woody Weatherman’s burly countenance manhandling his low-strung SG. Drummer Reed Mullin was all smiles and thunderous beats, while bassist Mike Dean moved about in animated agitation looking like a crazed serial killer ready to strike. The entire performance blistered the walls and COC engulfed the audience with its kinetic energy.
When Clutch took the stage they seemed almost casual by comparison, but they were no less intense in their delivery. All clad like a blue collar bar band from the suburbs, the band made its intent clear from the opening notes of “X-Ray Visions” and “Firebirds”. Both tracks which lead off their newest release, Psychic Warfare, from which they performed eight songs including; “Sucker for a Witch”, “Quick Death in Texas”, “Doom Saloon”, “Our Lady of Electric Light”, “Noble Savage”, and “Behold the Colossus”. The new record served as the crux and the highlight of the set. Clutch also included five songs from their highly-celebrated 2013 release Earth Rocker, serving up “Cyborg Bette”, “Crucial Velocity”, “Unto the Breach”, “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…”, “and “D.C. Sound Attack”: The latter performed as one of Clutch’s three encores. In all, the quartet played 18 songs for the ecstatic crowd, spanning all the way back to their 1998 Elephant Riders album. You can check out the full setlist here.
Frontman Neil Fallon delivered a dynamic performance with his whiskey-throated bellow commanding the crowd. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster propelled Clutch like a groove-laden, synchronized weapon. One noticeable drawback that several fans mentioned was how low the volume of Tim Sult’s guitar sounded; almost like a damp blanket had been hung over his Orange amp. When Fallon picked up his own guitar it sounded clear, sharp and twice as loud as Sult’s. Still, Sult made every note count, even if there were moments we struggled to take it all in. Dan Maines’ bass shook the venue, rumbling prominently, in particular on “Sucker for a Witch”.
Clutch is above all else, a consummate live band. Every performance served up a balance of humor and emotive punch, with Fallon utilizing his voice and mannerisms to create the right atmosphere for each song. On this night in Boise, the band felt as comfortable as your favorite pair of worn in jeans; they fit right, they feel right, and they make you want to grab a beer and crash a party.