When you have grown up with a band and their energy and spirit permeate your very being there is nothing that can compare to the experience of seeing them live for the first time. Especially when that band is as mystic and esoteric as the mighty AMEBIX.
In this essay Val recounts the excitement and magic of finally seeing AMEBIX live. In 2009 Val, myself and several friends make the journey to Texas to catch them on their North American tour.
Later that same year Val had the fortune of seeing them perform live again. Here is Val's reflection on those events...
AMEBIX have, since their inception, been a strange and mysterious force within the larger punk community. A band that seemed to always defy labels and push the boundaries of the genre to new limits. A band that seemed to be able to channel the spirits of the past in their live performances. I was fortunate enough to catch 2 of their shows in 2009 when they came thru the US. One show was during their short 8 date tour in January at Emo's in Austin, Texas. The other was during the unbelievable Chaos in Tejas organized by Timmy Hefner in May.
I had read that there was a powerful, even transformative energy, something that was unearthly and primal at AMEBIX live shows and that certainly proved to be true.
It seemed so surreal to be even walking into Emo's knowing what was coming. It seemed that everyone coming in on that cold January night seemed to grasp the significance and weight of the event. That we were all going to witness something that we had all long accepted that we would never see.
Now, it has to be stated that Texas must have been the last place that I thought that I would ever see AMEBIX. It would have seemed more likely that it could have happened out on some dark English moor. But , Austin Texas has become the site for many great hardcore and punk shows in the past decade. All props to Timmy for making amazing things happen.
AMEBIX hit the stage after Severed Head of State, Deskonocidos and Mammoth Grinder and immediately launched into a set of classics with full force starting with "Axeman". Commanding a powerful force and raw energy they pounded their way thru songs like it was a pagan ritual, like it was something that could forge a new era.
Most bands use props or fog machines to create the atmosphere for their live shows but here AMEBIX seem to simply summon the ghosts, the cold mossy stones and ancient earth of southeastern England by sheer act of will. There were a few minor technical glitches that seemed to be with Stig's amp but they were quickly worked out by their trusty sidekick, Pete the Roadie.
Brothers Rob "The Baron" and Chris "Stig" Miller, looking more like a couple of guys from around the corner than the godfathers of a genre, cranked out such pulsing and forceful bass and guitars that you would have thought they had never put them down. Rob belted out the songs with his trademark gravelly vocals and Roy Mayorga on drums brought an explosive and tribal foundation and the totality was sheer magic.
The whole crowd seemed to be mesmerized and at times chanted the chorus' and verses as if in some cathartic trance. There are hardly words to describe the feeling of having those songs pounding thru me while pressed against the stage. Transformation comes closest. There are no gods but yourselves within the world as AMEBIX sees it and they certainly left me feeling empowered and hopeful. Later they hung out, shared beers and laughs, answered questions and took pictures with anyone who wanted to, and were generally were the kindest guys you could ever hope to meet. Everyone poured out into the streets that night knowing they had just witnessed something special. Something that mattered.
Seeing them again less than 6 months later in the same venue was simply the icing on the cake. Being a part of the Chaos in Tejas festival seemed to somehow dull the significance of it somewhat since there was so much going on and so many great bands that year, including CRUDE from Japan, and England's COCKSPARRER. AMEBIX however came up and turned in a set that was even tighter musically than their January set and proved that they are truly masters of their craft. Still they conquered and triumphed and set the bar again as to what is possible with music...
My take home from all of this? That AMEBIX truly are alchemists, able to transform the simple and profane into something that is enduring yet ethereal, chilling yet warm, mysterious yet embracing and timeless. It is hard to imagine that these guys were once a part of the same Bristol scene that included DISORDER and CHAOS UK because they have done so much more. AMEBIX have returned from their self-imposed exile to reach new greatness in a new millennia and we are all better for it.
Also, check out some of Rob Miller's master bladesmith work at Castle Keep
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Make Some Fucking Noise.