Fostercore and Nate

I got a call from my friend, Fostercore, asking what I was doing on a Thursday night. Thursday? If I’m not checking out songwriters at an open mic, I’m probably either playing guitar ideas into the 8-track or sitting on my ass playing video games. There’s usually nothing great on Thursdays aside from the 14 open-mics around town. “I scored some tickets, but have no license. You have a license, but no tickets. Wanna have an adventure?”  Well, hell yea; who doesn’t? I did a quick check of music events on Music Connection Dayton to see what else was happening and made a mental note of some highlights. I threw on my nearly-clean Slayer T-shirt, grabbed my leather, and I was out the door.

Fostercore explained on the way, “Gnashing of Teeth is opening for a Pittsburgh band at the Rockstar Arena tonight. I did some work on their band van this week, and Duane threw me a couple tickets as a tip!” Duane White is a friend and one of the guitarists for the band. This was very cool news; I really dig Gnashing, and hadn’t seen them perform since we played an underground show in Xenia years ago when I was in a band called Priapism.  We hit Dayton by 6pm, but our tickets said “Doors at 7”, so we stopped at Belmont Park. Several friends were there finishing a round of disc golf, and it turned out we had perfect timing! Pre-game, CHECK. We tossed the Frisbee, caught the neighborhood gossip, and saw that rockin’ Belmont sunset over the field when we guessed it was time to get to the show.

I had heard of several other shows at the new Rockstar venue on 3rd Street, and wanted to check it out for several months. I was dubious of the multi-purpose, wrestling arena/music venue idea, being a NOT wrestling fan. I also had heard second-hand that they didn’t sell beer and had an aggressive security at some early events, and so I was prepared for a “Rebo’s-type”, all-ages club. I have to admit that I also prejudged the site by its official title, Rockstar Pro Wrestling Arena, arguably the least cool venue name since Bob’s Country Bunker. I expected  that I’d have to smoke outside, drink soda, and get searched (all my  favorite things), but none of that was the case!

The doorman was very cool, I turned to see a cooler full of PBR, and the guy running the concessions, Ben, was friendly and full of information. He said the venue was doing well, and expanding rapidly. It had started as a wrestling venue primarily and then they added a couple music events to fill some off weekends. The wrestling ring would be condensed and parked in a corner of the large main room, while the stage used for announcing and monologues was reconfigured into a live music stage and drum riser at one end. Gradually, the musical events began to increase, until now, they may outnumber the wrestling events held at the space, and have definitely become the bulk of the venue’s business.

Gnashing of Teeth

With perfect timing again, we purchased a few tasty beverages and went on into the main hall where Gnashing of Teeth was just about to take the stage! I don’t need to go on too much about this part, as we all know that they brought their crushing, speedy, 7-string thunder down on the crowd and were as great as I remembered. I found a sweet spot at the front of stage left where I could catch some extra stage volume from the guitars and I was rewarded with lots of in-my-face guitar sweeping and lows that made my guts vibrate inside me. I backed off to the rear of the room to listen to the over-all mix, and it was surprisingly crisp at the huge volume. Looking around at the structure, I saw that the main room has a metal siding on the outside walls about 15 feet up and the top 6 feet is covered with an insulating material that extends up onto the ceiling. Whatever the room was used for previously, it seemed to mute and enhance the sound quite well.  After the set, the sound engineer, Bo, talked with me about the PA system. He said he was really proud of the system they had built here, having acquired the bulk of it from McGuffey’s House of Rock at the beginning of this year. It roars, is great in this room, and Bo knows how to run it.

 

I got a chance to speak with the security person, Gavin, also, who told me that they have had a smooth transition to music venue with relatively few problems. He complimented the community of music fans in Dayton, saying that most of the patrons know each other and are coming here to hear music, not to fight. He even referenced the recent benefit show with the Insane Clown Posse, Menace 2 Sobriety, and others, saying that it was a sold out show, filled to capacity with a crew who are infamous for being rowdy, and they had NO problems at all.

The headliners, Those Who Fear (Pittsburg, Pa), took the stage, but to my ears, they pounded their low, drop C note the whole first song and it sounded somewhat monotone. There was an obvious mistake, as they all looked at each other for a few bars in the middle and shook their heads, though I didn’t hear an error (a serious benefit of playing one note?). The singer announced that this was the first night of their new tour, so I cut them some slack as the first song of the first night, and comparison is a little unfair, as these guys had to follow Gnashing, but still…The second song started, pounding the same note, and worked its way into the chorus, still that same low C, when Fostercore read my mind and said, “We can boogie outta here anytime you want.” We were gone.

 

I checked the time in the car, and it was only 10:05 ! I recalled my list of events, “Maybe we can catch Grand Mammoth at Bob’s?”

“Let’s go!”

Landon McKibben of Grand Mammoth

We made it over to Bob’s, found the most prime parking spot, and staggered from the smoky car into the bar. As I paid the cover, I heard Landon McKibben, Mammoth’s singer, checking his mic- perfect timing again! Three for three on being in the right place at the right time. Depending on the crowd at Blind Bob’s, I either feel at the center of a hot scene, or very, very old. We got some tasty beverages and elbowed our way to the front of the pit as the set started, where I was jostled into Richard Brown, Dayton’s premier “gig whore” and white-bearded videographer of local shows. There I was thinking that I looked a little out of place among the hipsters, and here is Richard at the front and center of the pit full of much younger, harrier fans, as if to say “F#(< that nonsense!”  Music calls and knows no age! Grand Mammoth cranked out their groovy-as-hell set of dirty, melodic stoner rock, and it was delicious! Richard and I and the other fans bounced off of each other constantly. Mammoth left the crowd sweaty and smiling and filled to capacity with ear-candy.

We had a quick band meeting to decide that we should push on and try our perfect timing for a 4th time. We walked across to the Oregon Express to see if any singer/songwriters were still at it, but alas, our perfect timing had run its course and they were cleaning up an emptying bar. I guess it couldn’t last forever, and you have to sleep sometime. We made it home, back out into the surrounding county, vowing to do it again very soon. There is no shortage of good local acts for the adventurous music lover if they stay well-informed. It was great to see that Dayton’s famous, if much maligned, music scene is alive and well and kicking asses, even on a Thursday night! Check your events and get out supporting our local bands, whatever your genre-of-taste may be. We are lucky to live in a music-rich area where, if you’re sitting on the couch watching bad TV, you’re surely missing some great art!

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