The evening started in unorthodox fashion. St. Vitus was playing a venue some six or seven blocks away, not to be attended by anyone I knew, while a local gig was in full swing, though sparsely attended, at Chop Suey.
I showed up and pumped my fist to the brothers in Skelator, at one point thrashing my way along next to a 60 year old lady in a Tyr shirt. I live for this kind of shit—myself and a few other barbarians holding the line while most of Seattle strokes itself to A7X or wtv halfway across town—but I had to get stoked to get sad, otherwise this wouldn't work. When said revelry had run its course, it seemed almost like I was driving with the e-break on trying to get in the mood to watch Wino and Co. My photographer even cancelled on account of some paying project deadlines.
It's tempting to say I didn't want to go. But, I did. Sure, Born Too Late isn't my favorite record. It's not even close to being my favorite St. Vitus record. But if they were playing it in its entirety, I knew it would draw a crowd.
As I trudged in at the tail end of, "War is My Destiny," things were looking up. I remembered that, though Born Too Late was in fact a doom album, and that, yes, they were playing it in full, it wasn't actually that long—I might just have the chance to enjoy some of their comparatively upbeat tunes. I knew right then that my being in any way not stoked was all about me.
"Clear Windowpane", "Born too Late", and "Dying Inside", uncomfortable as it may have been to a room full of people drinking beer, were all but impossible to argue with. The mix was loud and the low-end provided for a nice massage, though it didn't give one seizures like High on Fire tends to do. It was more about the crowd's fixation on Wino. At first, I thought nothing of it. Zoning out is what people do at doom metal shows (or so I'm told). Then it became more and more apparent that these folks were just as much awestruck as they were hypnotized.
Here was a band almost as influential as Sabbath (now, we can argue this point over a beer anytime) but not one that leans on the audial lovecraftian grooves of a guitar genius, or the cartoony and oddly mystifying wildness of its frontman. It was something much more stripped down and earnest. There are no lyrics about fairies or witchcraft or far off wars that nobody could be bothered to understand, let along raise a finger to protest. Just a man, his demons, and that mammoth tone. Wino thankfully accepted a shot whiskey from the side of the stage, the crowd so silent that it didn't take much to get his attention. He just seemed at ease, Shinebuilder and a host of acoustic work under his belt—he seemed happy to get back to the meat and potatoes of what brought him here.
When they were through, he shook all our hands—not slapping wildly in a fit of adrenaline, mind you—but out of an earnest respect for those that paid to see the band. I shook Dave Chandler and Mark Adams' hands at the bar and slipped out. They may not usurp the glory metal that I worship anytime soon but, that evening, I think I got what Vitus was all about.