HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blogAt the Taphouse: Pain in the Yeahs with the Purge and Raleigh Lights.

At the Taphouse: Pain in the Yeahs with the Purge and Raleigh Lights.

February 04, 20191126Views

Oh man, I got hammered at this show. I squarely place the blame on the musicians in attendance, who so expertly channeled the holy ghost of post-punk that I was feeling like I was twenty again. And in my 20s? I drank. And I drank a lot. The 13% alcohol Heavy Seas Schnee Boot "beer" that Parker was slinging across the bar to me certainly didn't help matters. In my defense, it had a pirate skull on the tap handle. I was baited, I tell you. Lured!

Pain in the Yeahs gets better with every show. Expanded into a five piece this go-round, they sounded massive tonight. Front-man and primary auteur of the group's signature sound, James Wagner, stalks the stage like a Rock God of old, not that the industry is in any shape to support that kind of thing any longer.

It's tragic to me that he wasn't born twenty years earlier, I think he'd have had a shot with a bit of luck of holding his own against legends like Peter Murphy or Ian Curtis -- though sonically speaking, the band owes its largest debt to Love And Rockets. That said, Wagner is increasingly staking out new territory into deeper post-modern waters. I'm told that he's been allowing more input from the rest of the cast -- especially guitarist, Bobby Phillips of Electro-organic fame.

Ultimately, however, this is a ship who's course is solidly set by its main star to great style and panache. And there's a strong argument for "Dopamine Noir" easily nabbing the laurel for our best record of last year. This band never fails to grace my top five list.

. . .

If there's any doubt at all as to whether PITY's album is last year's crowning achievement for 2018, The Purge plays spoiler with "The Bad Ideas We Build Worlds." This is work that seemingly came out of nowhere to land on my desk. I was stunned the first time I heard it. I'd missed the project's last appearance at Charlie's maybe a year or so ago, and had made it a point to catch them this time. Except, to my shock and awe, The Purge is not a them. It's the musical output of one man, Thomas Duerig.

Anyone who pays attention to me at all knows how much I adore the Cure, and Duerig is cut straight from the night-black cloth of the Faith-Pornography-The Top era of that group's oeuvre. If all he was was a Robert Smith tribute act I'd still throw my money at him, but The Purge comes across as a deeply personal, singular construct. Thomas connects with his audience in a way that's remarkable, given the solitary nature of this kind of music. Is this Darkwave? Goth? Ossuary Pop? What I'd label it on any given day really would depend on my mood, but whichever way you slice it this is brilliant work. Add to that the fact that he pulls a off live show of this level of symphonic complexity without nary a supporting band member present?

This music is a miracle.

Go now. Buy all his records. I'll wait.

. . .

Raleigh Lights debuted with a solid post-hardcore set with great energy and the crowd ate it up. Singer Nicholas Harper has a great presence, and the band is tight with deftly executed playing. I look forward to seeing what they become.

All in all, this show was totally worth the 400lb hangover waiting for me in the morning. Rock and roll may never die, but I was a bit worse for wear most of the following day as a result of all this excellence. Kudos to all involved for fabricating a time machine to summon the shade of my ill-advised intemperance. It's nice every now and then to test the waters and figure out what you can still survive.

Seriosuly though.. Let me tell you about that Pirate Beer!

-- end transmission --

Pain in the Yeahs

Norfolk. Post-Punk.

Raleigh Lights

Norfolk. Post-Hardcore.

The Purge

Norfolk. Goth.

Words and film photography by Jeff Hewitt