Pittsburgh’s own Molasses Barge is kind of a recent discovery for me. I had become aware of them a while back by virtue of the fact that singer Brian ‘Butch’ Balich is also the frontman for the fucking awesome Pennsylvanian doom band Argus. But, I hadn’t actually heard them until this August when I saw them open up for Pentagram.
In a clear case of truth-in-advertising, Molasses Barge sound just like how something with such a name should sound. The main thing that struck me as I witnessed this sludgey beast in action was the setup drummer Wayne Massey was using. He seemed to have all the drum and cymbal hardware adjusted to the lowest possible height, so that it was all barely above the level of his throne. In this way, he constantly seemed to be hunched over the kit, throwing everything he had into a downward motion as he struck each beat. While it seems this would take a lot out of a person – in fact, before the second song began, Massey had already cast aside the t-shirt he’d begun the set with, and also by this time he was looking as though he might have benefitted from a jug of water like the one Butch was constantly taking swigs from between sections of vocals – nevertheless the technique was very effective in laying down a thundrously driving rhythm underneath the rest of the band.
Guitarists Justin Gizzi and Ken Houser mainly hung off to their respective sides of the stage, out of the spotlight, but their combined crunchy riffs and melodic soloing built a substantial wall of noise that more than made their presence felt. And Butch sort of bounced around the area between the two guitarists,with an imposing presence and also very impressive singing; meanwhile, occupying whatever real estate the vocalist had vacated at any given moment, Amy Bianco sort of meandered through the middle of it all, offering up basslines that similarly filled the empty sonic space between the others.
Of course, I can say all the words in the world describing the show these folks put on, but nothing would help you envision the experience as much as an actual video of the event. Well fortunately, some kind soul recorded the show I saw, and then made it available on Youtube for all who had missed it.
Anyway, now you pretty much know all you need to know, in order to know that you need to get out there and see this band live, as soon as possible! And you are in luck, because over the next few weeks you’ll have not one, but TWO opportunities to do so – as long as you are fortunate enough to be within driving distance of the greater Pittsburgh area. See below for descriptions and details for each of the upcoming shows.
You might also be interested in:
Molasses Barge – Jewels (download)
Argus – Boldly Stride the Doomed (CD | download)