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Pentagram at The End, Candice Burnside cancer benefit with The Features, Cortney Tidwell and more

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Not a soft-rock nutsack in sight

Can we hear some noise from the folks in the cheap seats? 'Cause motherfuckin' summer is in full effect! It's time to party! Well, it's always time to party at Spin HQ, but come summer, we crank it into ultra-mega-overdrive and don't come up for air until a week or three after Next Big Nashville.

We started our Friday night (and this righteous season of self-abuse) at The Belcourt for the hometown premiere of local transgressive-cinema savant Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers, and it was the best thing to hit the big screen ever, or at least since Ice Pirates. We're talking an hour-and-a-half of creepy old people humping inanimate objects, breaking glass and lighting firecrackers, on worn-out VHS tape — it's like somebody made a movie about our childhood and captured the most heart-warming moments. And then let Chris Crofton ruin them with his "jokes." We guffawed like evil schoolgirls the whole way through in the theater's new super-duper comfortable seats.

Next we made our way to The End to catch locals I Am The Tower — well, we think it was them. When the dude growled their name it just sounded like "rumpitdarumpitdarumpitda." Still, they packed enough thrash, sludge and Hawkwind-y overtones into their music to win us over: Three cheers for local bands who aren't trying to lick the lint off The Doobie Brothers' soft-rock nutsacks.

Up next were Savannah, Ga., power trio Black Tusk, who combine super heavy metal and classic late '80s hardcore without ever getting near the dreaded "metal-core" territory. That is one helluva tightrope to walk, but they barreled through an entire set without making us run for cover.

Krazee-Eyez Killah: Pentagram
  • Krazee-Eyez Killah: Pentagram

Finally, it was Pentagram time. We had been kinda nervous that maybe the show was either not going to happen, or it was gonna suck — always a possibility with a re-formed band. Luckily, we were all sorts of wrong. The doom-metal pioneers were as flawlessly badass as we could have hoped for. Mind you, they've recorded some of the best, heaviest records in metal history, so having the show surpass our expectations was more shock than we might have been ready for. Faces were melted.

Bobby Liebling, bedecked in a billowy satin jacket and looking like a crazy-eyed Gallagher impersonator, was one of the most captivating frontmen we've seen in ages. The dude has crazy-looking eyes — the kind that you can feel piercing your soul, or that would make you change seats on the bus. The packed crowd was eating up the ever arched-eyebrow and monster riffs. People were going nuts, but — and they'll probably hate us for saying this — everybody was very polite. We go to a lot of shows, and when shows get packed, people tend to be assholes. But the metal kids always seem a lot more patient, apologetic and, uh, happier. Or at least they're not as pushy about getting past you. Totes weird.

Thanks for the mammaries

It seems like these days, we've been going to more benefits than the regular rock 'n' roll gigs with the usual wanton disregard for the outside world. All of this caring gets exhausting, but we were totally willing to suck it up for a show benefiting former Grimey's record jockey Candice Burnside, who'd been diagnosed with breast cancer in February.

We rolled up to Exit/In earlier than usual, and took the opportunity to chill by the stage with a beer and a peanut butter brownie while DJ Bawston Sean spun records on the laptop equivalent of the ones and twos. Last time we heard the Notorious B.O.S.T.O.N. in action, he was laying down the dense prog-metal pretty thick at the Cream anniversary party. Nothing against impenetrable prog-metal, it's just that "Friends of P" by The Rentals gets us amped.

We haven't seen Cortney Tidwell since the flood knocked her out of the running for the last round of Road to Bonnaroo. Her self-described country-gothic style is more or less the base that she works off of, but her live performances are a whole different monster. Keyboardist Ryan Norris let us have it with his synth bass, which produced the kind of insane low-register sound that makes you forget who you are and what year it is. What makes Tidwell's songs really work is when the appropriate amount of weight is behind them. When the momentum builds up to a song like "17 Horses," there's nothing we want more than to have our brains liquefied by synth bass.

Jolly Rogers: Hotpipes
  • Jolly Rogers: Hotpipes

With an uncertain "Hey ... we're the Hotpipes?" Jon Rogers, Dan Sommers, half of The Privates (Keith Lowen and Dave Paulson) and De Novo Dahl drummer No. 2, Jerry Pentecost, finally gave us the Hotpipes show we've been waiting for. There are some bands that you don't realize you'll miss until they're gone. For a while, it seemed like Hotpipes were constantly playing around town, and we took it for granted.

We're not sure how we feel about one-off reunion shows. Because Hotpipes faded so quickly and so silently, they were never given the send-off they deserved, but playing again is also like reopening a wound. We spent the set with the words, "Why did this band have to break up? They were so fucking good!" rolling through our head like it was the damn CNN ticker. It was easily the best show we've ever seen them play, packed with beer-to-the-sky sing-a-long anthems and a set of sweet-ass bongo drums. And while Sommers is no slouch when it comes to the skins, Pentecost is a machine.

After the dust cleared, The Features closed out the night with a set top-loaded with newish tunes, and the bulk of the show composed of the typical crowd-pleasers ("Lions," "Circus" and "Demons," among others). The boys did sneak in a brand-new tune whose title we couldn't make out, but it bore the usual hallmarks of a Features work-in-progress: The choruses and ending were solid and the song showed promise, but the band was clearly still figuring out how the locked-down pieces fit together.

At the end of the night, we heard that around $3,500 was raised, enough to pay off a significant chunk of Burnside's medical bills. And that's a pretty big win, as far as we're concerned. Even if Hotpipes didn't blow our asses away, maybe we ought to reconsider our benefit fatigue. We came away from the show feeling pretty good about ourselves. The fistful of bake-sale cookies for the road didn't hurt much either.

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