As Valient Thorr set up before their set at the Jackpot Friday night, my friends Jason and Mike stood in front of the stage chanting the following: "P-A-R-T-Y, WE DON'T NEED NO ALIBI! WE PARTY! HEY, HEY, WE PARTY!"
Sadly, it didn't catch on, but one can dream of an entire bar, packed with Thorriors chanting that, and it makes for warm fuzzies. As it is, however, Valient Thorr doesn't inspire half-assedness when it comes to an audience. The crowd at the Jackpot was throwing fists in the air, clapping in time, and headbanging.
And when I say "headbanging," I mean headbanging: long hair flying and heads whipping from side to side like the front row of the audience had practiced beforehand. It was the sort of behavior which one never sees anymore, and right in line with what Valient Himself said as he introduced Immortalizer's "I Hope the Ghosts of the Dead Haunt Yr Soul Forever": "Don't let them think that rocking isn't your fucking priority."
The audience was only giving back what it was getting, too. Valient Thorr puts on a show. Valient's between-song banter is ten times crazier than anything you might find Paul Stanley say on any KISS live album. Plus, the band managed to play with such fervor that a few songs I'd initially dismissed -- particularly "Infinite Lives," a song that compares the war in Iraq to a video game -- were given a lot more energy and breadth, leading me to see them in a new light.
The Architects played a set of mostly new stuff from their recent release, The Hard Way. While the band was tight, and obviously having fun, their set seemed a little by-the-numbers. It's interesting to see the Architects play in Lawrence, as opposed to Kansas City, as it demonstrates what a difference 40 miles can make. Had they played in KC, the audience would've been rip-roaring for the band, but they got their usual Lawrence reception of lukewarm indifference.
Brandon's voice going out probably didn't help any matters, but the audience popped when the Architects launched into AC/DC's "Sin City." Everyone went pretty ballistic when Valient Himself hopped up onstage to take the mic. He flubbed the first verse, but acquitted himself nicely, performing the rest of the song with aplomb and a note-perfect Bon Scott impersonation. The band managed to hold onto the boost that song gave them, and finished on a high note with "Daddy Wore Black" and "Don't Call It A Ghetto."
Openers Mansion played one song, as near as I or anyone in the audience could tell. I showed up to the show about five minutes in, and asked Lizz and Ben from the Old Black if they'd played anything else, and it seems that it was just one song that ran about twenty minutes. It was epic, obviously, and in that Southern Lord style that incorporates elements of drone, post-rock, and doom. It was good, and the band managed to keep it interesting, but I like songs that go on that long to build to something. The tune ended well enough, but a bit more rocking out would've led the song to a greater payoff.