The Sword w/Big Business and O'Brother at Exit/In, 2/17/14

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The Spin’s pipes swelled ominously, and our supplies dwindled in the ravenous, pitiless, icy claws of winter. Deep in our cave and swaddled in hides, we toiled by the light of tallow candles, scribing the lore of our people on, um, other hides. But there was a pinpoint of light at the end of the long, dark tunnel, and that was The Sword. And The Sword came, and we saw, and it was good. Thanks and praise be to The Sword!

We decided to do our homework on the openers this time; turns out that was not a wise choice, because we neglected to check the start time, and when we rolled up to Exit/In at 9 p.m. on the dot, the place was packed to capacity, and we were three songs into the second band’s set. We weren’t that keen on opener O’Brother anyway — our prep work left us with the impression that they were a bit too poppy for us, despite some solid musicianship — but we’ll have to wait til next time to give them a fair shake. On the other hand, can a group that calls their fans "O’Bruggalos" really ever get a fair shake? “EWW! DO THEY REALLY DO THAT?” asked our intrepid photographer and metal oracle Porkchop. ‘Nuff said.

More pressing was the need to catch up with Big Business. From the back of the room, elbow to butt with the most polite crowd we’ve seen in a minute (hats off to them for making sure the guy in the wheelchair had a clear line of sight), the Los Angeles trio was shining black gold. Not that we’d expect any less from guys who spent a chunk of the Aughts as members of The Melvins, but they delivered the goods, using drummer Coady Willis’ thrash-worthy chops to suspend their black-hole-heavy sounds in mid-air like giants juggling boulders. The variety of different approaches they take to their riffage makes them appealing for a broad audience, but with the ability to make a major chord progression weep sludgy black tears, they’re not going to be mistaken for lightweight by anyone — especially anyone who heard this set die a glorious, squalling death with three false endings.

After a trip to the Little Spin’s room fraught with danger and goblins, we regained our spot just in time for the lights to drop and The Sword to appear, bobbing along to “Protect Ya Neck.” Fuck it, game won! Last time, they had us after the first song, but they didn’t even have to turn on the amps this time. As always, we’re glad we stayed. The set wasn’t a huge departure from the Thanksgiving 2012 set, with focus mostly on Apocryphon and bringing out trad-inspired gems from the rest of their catalog. But with the whole quartet spiraling licks and guitarmonies in perfect sync around the grooves, their Texas boogie-flavored attack softened from ear-bleed levels by the crowd, what more could we ask for? More vocal in the main speakers, that’s pretty much it. To top it all off, we were strolling out to “Magic Man” over the P.A. just after 11 p.m.

Besides enjoying ourselves, which we did to the point that our invisible-orange-hoisting muscles got sore, we were pumped to see a near-sellout crowd at a metal show on a Monday night. It’s great when a top-shelf rock band like Built to Spill or The Jesus Lizard packs 'em in, but when a group does it like Run the Jewels last July or The Sword on Monday, we get an extra warm ‘n’ fuzzy feeling about our peripheral scenes. With heavy hitters like Mastadon coming here to work, local doom-thrashers Yautja getting national pressand Music City MCs like Isaiah Rashad, Starlito and Don Trip going nation-wide, that capricious It City aura has us feeling alright.

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