Last World, Barbacoa, And Rough Francis At Higher Ground April 18, 2015
Words by Tim Lewis.
I had a great time seeing music last night at Higher Ground. I bought tickets some time ago and scheduled myself out of work early, but still worked an 8am-4:30pm shift. Instead of just running running running, I stopped an home, settled a bit then walked downtown, and caught a bus to Shelburne. I chatted with my brother Ken, and realized how early it was, around 6 for and 8:30 showtime. We headed out anyway and went to the pop up record store they were having in the HG showcase lounge. I though there might be more bands representing themselves, but a lot of the vendors, who lined both sides of the room, had tons of vinyl and art for sale. James Kochalka was there with his books and comics. The Smittens had some vinyl, Justin Gonyeahad some Doom Service shirts and tapes, and Rough Francis had some t-shirts, mix-tapes, CD’s, and a couple of various oddities. Both Ken and I bought one of the black Rough Francis Burlington Vermont t-shirts, then we headed out in search of dinner.
We arrived back at the venue just before 8, had a super short wait, then the doors opened, and in we went. We ran into Ed, who is a friend of a friend, and a huge fan of RF, and chatted a bit as DJ Disco Phantom spun some records. Around 8:40 something odd happened. A bass player I did not recognize (Scott McCormick) took the stage with a guitar player I did recognize, but doesn’t Urian Hackney play drums? They were joined by Bobby Hackney Jr. on drums and lit into some wicked fast hardcore that would make As We Were try and keep up. The blisteringly screamed vocals of Julian Hackney rounded out the sound and they kicked out four or five songs. The set was, maybe, 15 minutes of pure fury and was a fantastic treat. It was kind of cool standing next to Paul Comegno when most of RF were on stage. After, he let me know they are called Last World and they just lost their drummer, so Bobby is playing with them now. What a great bonus!
It was not too long of a wait, after they wrapped up their set, until Barbacoa hit the stage as a four-piece with Lowell Thompson sitting in. They dove into their surf rock noir set with grace, precision and a beautiful flow to the music. The third song in was an instrumental version of Paint It Black and by the end Bill Mullins jr was standing on his amp, Lowell was standing on the bass drum, and bassist Kirk Flanagan stood on the amp on the other side of the stage. Drummer Jeremy Frederickpowered his way through the song and it was brilliant, both visually and musically. Next, Bill put on a virtual guitar clinic by wandering into the audience and playing right in front of people. He hung out in the audience for several songs and made a remark about enjoying hanging out with the people. As the 45 minute set headed towards its conclusion, he returned to the stage and they let loose a killer mix of Miserlou (I’m pretty sure) that flowed into the Spiderman theme and ended with Secret Agent Man. What a killer show, as always.
After another short wait, ROUGH FRANCIS took the stage just before 10:30 and kicked off with a new song I did not recognize, but rocked hard. They followed with a bunch of songs from Maximum Soul Power including I-90 East, Righteous, Black And Red, Staring Out The Window and a super intense version of Not A Nice Guy. They headed into new song territory with MSP2, which is on the 45 they released that day, since it was record store day, then the second big surprise of the night happened. They brought Bill Mullins jr out to play a couple of songs with them. The first one was the b-side of the single, Blind Pig, and began with a moody bluesy riff that sounded a little Barbacoalike, then shifted into the heavy rock we know and love from Francis. They kept him out for another new rocker, and the music was wonderfully intense. The half full room had people dancing around happily, but in the next set of new songs, Paul exploded off the stage and started slamming with the audience without missing a note. The energy jumped for the next few songs, and something close to a mosh pit emerged. The energy was through the roof as they played the final song, Every Day (??), which is fun, since that is the song they have been opening with lately. They left the stage, but one huge song was missing and there was no doubt they would come back for a well demanded encore. It wasn’t quite the midnight hour but Comm To Space started slowly with Urian taking command of the beat on the toms and Steven Hazen Williams reinforced it with the bass. The song built into it’s huge unhinged rock sound as Bobby let loose some blistering screams. Everyone had fun and they jammed hard as the song fell into it’s conclusion, then came back and rocked some more, before finally finishing off the night.
We said a quick goodbye to Bobby who headed over to the merch table as soon as the set was done, then I drove Ken back to Shelburne. It was a great night of music and I’m so happy I got to be a part of it.
This post was originally published by Tim Lewis at his personal blog, https://timstriangletribune.wordpress.com.