The only thing worse than opening a blog post with an apology for a lack of updates is continuing that post with a litany of reasons as to WHY said blog has been ignored by its curator.
I’ll meet you halfway by skipping the apologies and getting straight to the excuses.
Before I start whining, it’s best to retrace our steps: The entire premise of RJKT was/is peer into our city’s nightlife and culture. It’s never pretended to be all-encompassing, but its limited scope was usually dependent on my ability and/or enthusiasm for getting out and doing things.
During the month of October, I went full-on hermitcore. I didn’t go out, I didn’t talk to people, and I sure as shit didn’t write. (Well, that’s not entirely true, but more on that later.) Lots of cool things were happening around town, but due to my the seasonal demands of my dayjob–which involves coaxing literally hundreds of temporary laborers into schlepping Star Wars memorabilia at maximum speed, for 60+ hours each week–I locked myself indoors.
Usually, my seclusionary tactics were the result of sheer exhaustion. But often, I felt defeated. My rhythms and routines had been ground underfoot and scattered into warehouse dust. My little pocket of the world had been thrown into chaos and doubt. Would I ever get out to a show again? Would my friends forget about me? Would I ever redevelop a taste for fruits and vegetables after spending an entire month surviving on donuts, Red Bull, and Pizza Ranch?
I was so, so close to losing hope. BUT I NEVER GAVE UP…
…on consuming degenerate art.
Without the therapeutic benefits of human interaction, I was forced to supplement my usual diet of heavy metal and beer with healthy doses of sci-fi in the following formats:
⦁ Last-gen video games
⦁ Hardcover pulp
⦁ Graphic novels
…and honestly, these nerd ‘roids were probably the only things from keeping me from being crushed under the wagon’s wheels.
So, in the interest of getting back on track, consider this the thank-you section of the liner notes for RJKT’s unreleased harsh noise triple-album, October Crust. After we slog through this together, we can return to our regularly scheduled programming: Publicly shaming under-educated bike lane opponents and grown-ass adults that still listen to nu-metal while previewing Kato events that don’t totally suck.
But first, THE SURVIVAL JAMS:
While albums from Clutch, Kylesa, and VHÖL received a ton of pre-release anticipation, the only intelli-heavy record from October to truly cash in on its massive hype was Deafheaven‘s New Bermuda. Next to Royksopp & Robyn’s “Do It Again,” “Luna” was the only thing that effectively charged my batteries when the coffee quit working.
Incidentally, it was an entire pot of dark roast (imbibed at noon) that powered my review of the record, which the Angry Metal Guy himself graciously allowed to desecrate his pages.
While lingering in the AMG offices, my friend and colleague Grymm’s delightfully OTT take on the new Killing Joke album, Pylon, caught my eye. While only a few cuts got me deep–“Big Buzz” being the sharpest–it reignited a love affair with their 2006 opus, Hosannas from the Basements of Hell. New records from living legends don’t have to be revolutionary, they just have to stoke the flames.
Meanwhile, left field winds brought us fresh radness from Beaten to Death, who established themselves as the most effervescent band in grindcore with 2013’s Dodsfest! (which I also ranted and raved about at AMG). Their latest, Unplugged (which isn’t), whips their whims into tighter, more concise assaults, and the result is absolutely batshit.
But against all odds, the month’s king comes from the realm of death metal, as Dark Descent‘s crown jewel, Horrendous, crafted a masterpiece. Old-school DM has been the most played out sub-subgenre for ages now, especially if you still think “occult rock” has legs. But Anareta‘s blend of Asphyxiating vocal delivery, Atheist / Cynic prototech homages, and absolutely bonkers timechanges have prog-pushed the record into AOTY contention. (And actually, everyone’s favorite record-label-ad-revenue-driven heavy metal catalog, Decibel, recently crowned it as such.)
And now, some auxiliary acknowledgements, for without these non-aural cathartic devices, I’d have barely survived.
The copy of Deus Ex: Human Revolution I swiped from We Got Game for $2.99 (TOP-NOTCH sci-fi stealth / RPG yarn that actually rewards you for not being a murderous shitbag, even when thrust into the cold machinations of a libertarian dystopia), bicycles, Transmetropolitan Volumes 5 and 6 (because the New Scum shouldn’t forget where they came from), bicycles, John Scalzi’s The End of All Things (proving that there’s serious legs left in the Old Man’s War saga), Fargo Brewing Company’s Wood Chipper IPA (get it?), bicycles.
NO THANK YOU / SLIT YOUR WRISTS AND LAUNCH YOURSELVES INTO THE SUN:
My janky bottom bracket, Scott Walker (the shitty one), big-ass trucks with North Dakota plates that don’t use their turn signals, Five Finger Death Punch, people that order Coors Light at Boulder Tap House, Wallace and Gromit, the loathsome old crank in the dark blue Nissan Xterra that tried to start a fight with me last winter (with his seat belt still fastened), solitude.
Whew. That felt good. You ready to do this again, Mankato?
This weekend, local non-profit Midwest Art Catalyst is throwing their 8th Post Holiday Extravaganza, a two-day celebration of music and art that benefits, well, local music and art.
Supporting Greater Mankato’s independent art is a noble undertaking, but it’s probably going to take more than goodwill to lure people out of their climate-controlled caves. Thus: LOUD GUITARS.
If the names on the above flyer seem foreign, don’t fret. (Most of ’em are just from Minneapolis, you filthy xenophobes.) We’re here to school you on some of Minnesota’s best music before it lands on your doorstep.
The festivities kick off at 9 p.m. at the Mankato Event Center–the space formerly known as the Aboveground, located across the hall from the former Buffalo Wild Wings in the formerly (?) thriving Mankato Place indoor mall.
Mankato vets Old Towne Ghosts will be the first to take the stage, rocking a brand of straight-up punk rock that draws from mid-80’s hardcore (you know, before hardcore became hardcore) and 90’s melodicism. It’s pretty timeless stuff, and currently, these guys are the closest thing the Mankato scene has to an institution.
Strap yourself to those sinewy basslines and HOWL.
Next up are Minneapolis’ Buildings, the weekend’s most abrasive act. But those with an aversion to noisy riffs and jagged edges shouldn’t flee, as the trio’s compact, bass-driven bursts rain down like a storm of tiny hammers. (That’s a good thing, if you’re keeping score.)
Their frenetic kinetics are comparable to a band like Coliseum, yet gravel-mixed with noise-rock dredged from the chasm between Big Black and Unsane.
Finally, the evening is headlined by BNLX‘s first appearance in Mankato. A calming wash to counter Buildings’ racket, BNLX weaves robust post-punk (think The Church‘s Starfish, only with Red Bull in lieu of NyQuil) into towering shoegazey soundscapes.
Sensing a pattern here? Three bands culling all the right influences from three decades of punk rock to create something fresh, vital, and wholly of-the-moment.
Three bands. Six bucks. Nine o’ clock.
While Friday evening is strictly a 21+ affair, Saturday’s daytime events are open to enthusiasts of all ages, free of charge.
The Mankato Event Center will once again open its doors, this time from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. On tap? A bake sale, art raffle, silent auction, and other superfun shenanigans. (If you’re clamoring for a sneak peek at some of the initial art submissions, a handful of the offerings have been posted on MWAC’s freshly-brewed Instagram.)
Those craving literal taps can retire to the NaKato Bar & Grill after the daytime festivities, where the raffle winners will be revealed and Liquor Beats Winter will storm the stage / billiards room floor at 9 p.m.
Here’s the deal with NaKato’s musical guests: Most fall within the wide-ish spectrum of folk and roots-rock, from the likes of Teague and Ian Alexy to AARP favorites Ross Kleiner and the Thrill. But the best nights are had when bluesy filth is dealt in spades, from bands that sound like they fell off a train and rolled their ragged asses into the venue leaving a trail of too-warm whiskey in their wake.
(Basically, the nights when The Hooten Hallers swing through town.)
But Liquor Beats Winter wreaks a similar recklessness; a little more ragged, a little more sparse, a little more garage-rock…if they torched the garage and generator-jammed amongst the ashes.
If liquor does, in fact, beat winter, lets band together, take up arms, and bludgeon the thing to death.
See you this weekend, Mankato.