Lucid Culture


Concert Review: The Coffin Daggers at Otto’s, NYC 12/7/08

A raw, cold, drizzly night didn’t stop their fans from coming out and dancing. Hitting the stage a little after midnight, the Coffin Daggers validated their reputation as one of New York’s half-dozen or so best live bands, tearing through one song after another without so much as a word to the audience. With Dick Dale temporarily on the shelf after surgery, it’s hard to think of a more intense, powerful surf band anywhere in the world right now. Last night their mix of scorching, distorted reverb guitar and ominous organ was as bracing as ever. Lead guitarist Viktor Venom played with his usual gleefully macabre sarcasm, much in the same vein as the Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray but with vastly greater speed and agility against organist Eudocia Rodzinak’s somber gothic atmospherics. The rhythm section hit with Joe Louis power and precision, bassist Peter Klarnet blasting out big, distorted chords on many of the songs’ massive crescendos.


Alternating between standards and originals, they opened with a Link Wray number with an eerily smoldering guitar feedback solo, later ripping through punked-out versions of The Cruel Sea and Out of Limits (lots of sci-fi instros in the set tonight). But their own songs were the best. A new one began dramatic and somewhat tongue-in-cheek, building to characteristic, chromatically-fueled menace. Another newish one, perhaps titled Monsters from the Id pounded along with a lot of call-and-response between the guitar and organ, winding itself up to a nasty, sunbaked fuzztone guitar solo. Perhaps the best one of the night was yet another new number, ghoulish and minor key with a sepulchral, watery tone from the guitar, climbing to an inexorably brutal, percussive chorus. While the band has tightened up, abandoning most of the noisy psychedelic wildness that was their stock in trade seven or eight years ago, they typically jam out at least one song and tonight that one was the snarling Avenue X from their 2004 full-length debut cd (which made our top ten list that year). They started it slowly with a wall of noise from the Echoplex unit, Klarnet playing evil tritones against the organ’s slowly rising flood. After a long, hypnotic noise solo, they suddenly hit a false ending before wrapping it up with a roaring blaze of guitar. They closed with Caravan, this time pretty close to the classic Ventures version on Live in Japan, right down to the drum solo, Pete Martinez putting his own propulsive spin on the Mel Taylor beat.


Like a lot of New York bands with a big out-of-town following, the  Coffin Daggers don’t play many dates here anymore (they do a lot of European and Midwest tours); this show was a stark reminder of what we’ve been missing. Watch this space for upcoming shows.

December 7, 2008 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, New York City, review | , , , , ,

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