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THE STEP KINGS / 1/4 INCH MICROBOMB / click. /
EPISODE ONE / XTRA LARGE

The Vault; Baltimore, MD - 02/04/00


Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

For over a year I had been trying to see click. in concert, however, it seemed I would miss the band's shows for one previous commitment or another. I wanted to see for myself if click. was in fact one of Baltimore's best live bands. I finally got my chance as my schedule and click.'s schedule managed to converge (Editor's note: You might say they "clicked.") so that I could actually see the band in the live setting (the planets must have been aligned). It's not often that I go to shows with anticipation, but this night was certainly filled with great excitement.

Xtra Large, hailing from the environs of East Baltimore, took the stage with a sound that is heavy on groove and the ever-sought crunch reminiscent of the days when denim and leather ruled the metal world.  However, there's too much integrity in the music of Xtra Large to accuse the band of hopping on the aggro-metal bandwagon. Xtra Large employ death metal growls and chanting in the vocals that begin to hint at an American version of the popular melodic death style that is coming out of Scandinavia these days. Xtra Large has been playing live for about eight months and their incredibly tight approach is refreshing. For me this was a solid introduction to the band and I am excited to know that new material will be forthcoming from Xtra Large in the near future; Xtra Large will soon be entering the studio with famed local producer Drew Mazurek.

Episode One's thick wall of sound (there are seven members!) is a crossover rap/rock fusion with enough hardcore and metal aggression to make things interesting. Readers of Rough Edge know that the rap/metal fusion is not exactly my favorite style of music, but I've learned to enjoy this style so long as it is played with energy and gusto. And let me be the first to tell you that Episode One have enough kinetic fury for two bands! Episode One's sense of rhythm and space prevents the band from sounding overwhelmingly dense. Episode One are reminiscent of hed(pe), Slipknot, and Deftones all rolled together into one big happy hodgepodge of mayhem. 

It was abundantly clear that those in attendance at The Vault this particular evening were there to see click. perform. The Marshall-driven sound and percussive attack of click. makes the band instantly likeable and memorable. With a mixture of new, yet unrecorded material, and some old favorites click. rocked the house with a tight set. The new tracks ("Scissors," "Deconstructing," "Bitter," and "Delicate") bristled with fierce force. Established tracks from the band's second CD ("Slug," "Slave," "Manifold," and "Hand To Mouth") were given new life by the lavish deployment of effects and processors for a dry, twisted, and oscillating sound. The sequencing of songs was made seamless as nearly every song was bridged with effect-driven drones that allowed the band to explore picturesque washes of the songs' reverberations.

Frontman John Cummings, without saying a word, displayed plenty of the charismatic confidence that he is known for. Bassist Keith Thompson handled the low end with aplomb while drummer Aaron Edmunds' sharp attack is perfect for the band's live performance. New guitarist Marcio Alvarado was playing his second live show since joining the band three months ago; Alvarado displayed plenty of adventurous spirit and youthful energy while adding the art-noise colors that makes click. a pleasure to listen to. I am confident big things are going to happen for click. in 2000 - don't miss out on this very talented and professional act. 

1/4 Inch Microbomb played a short, tight set of their rhythmically conscious, but not overly groove-oriented hardcore material. 1/4 Inch Microbomb's music pushes the listener forward as if to force a confrontation - certainly worth seeing again sometime soon. Currently formed as a three-piece, 1/4 Inch Microbomb will have a new CD in April 2000. 

Originally, I had only anticipated four bands of great local talent, but there was a neat little surprise when I got to the venue that an additional act had been added to the bill. The Step Kings had been added to the night's lineup and made the four-hour trip from New York City to join in on the fun. The Step Kings play a neat little mix of hardcore, punk, and power pop that is infectious and quite "happy" in its spirit. The cool part about The Step Kings is that three of the four members sing for added emphasis on melody. Atypical elements like sledgehammers (see it for yourself!), bongos, and trombone are also utilized by the rhythm guitarist to add a neat facet to The Step Kings' sound. I certainly wouldn't mind catching the band in concert again.  The Step Kings have just signed a deal with Roadrunner Records; their most recent disc "Let's Get It On!" will be reissued by the label in April 2000. 

An interesting feature of the night was the tag-team jungle sounds provided before the show and between each band's set by DJ Hollowpoint and DJ Carlo; this made for a slightly odd mix of musical entertainment, but it was done on purpose to create a unique vibe for the fans. 

Once again, I must praise The Vault for it's perfect stage setting that allows all the fans the ability to see the stage no matter where they might be in the room.

There's one lesson I keep learning by attending local shows - there's a lot of great talent out there! Support local music!
 


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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:15 -0400.