Clutch @ Bowery Ballroom

Neil Fallon of ClutchNEW YORK, NY—I was trying to make my way to The Bowery Ballroom to catch what would have been a kick ass show, had I seen the whole thing, and to start Labor Day weekend off with a bang. I blame the Holland Tunnel and the obscene amount of traffic that is always there for my late arrival.

The 2007 release party for Royal Flush Magazine was set to take place that night, and the lineup was definitely motivating enough for me to leave the sunny beach that day and head back up north for this event. The bill included the spoof band, Beatallica, as the opening act, followed by Mastodon member Brent Hinds’ side project Fiend Without A Face, and finally, the headliners…Clutch!

Well, the doors opened at 7:30, the bands started at 8, and I got there a bit after 9; damn Holland Tunnel. So, I missed Beatallica. I’m pretty upset about this because I’m definitely a Beatles and Metallica fan, and I think that the whole absurd idea behind this band is hysterical; I love them. But what can I do, right?

Okay so I missed having a chuckle, but the rest of the night amply made up for this. Soon, three men with funny little hats with tassels and stockings over their faces took the stage and sure enough, it was Fiend Without A Face. Their sound, much different than what we’re used to hearing from Brent Hinds, was more of a rockabilly, mostly instrumental, poppy jam band one, filled in with random shouts into the mic by Brent here and there; almost reminiscent of a ’60s surf’s up movie. I must say, I really liked them, and it seems that the rest of the crowd did too because mostly everyone had their full attention directed toward the stage while they were playing. The set was a little over a half-hour long, give or take.

After hanging around for a while and anxiously waiting, Clutch finally came out. What was a decent size crowd in a room with plenty of space to move around became a shoulder to shoulder, completely packed club with no room whatsoever. I guess maybe a lot of people either didn’t come until later, or the bar crowd from downstairs crawled up the stairs to hear the band that’s been putting on kickass live shows for upwards of 20 years now. This was the first time I ever saw Clutch live. I heard about past shows from friends and whatnot, but that never does any justice to what a band is really like on stage; you have to be there, you have to experience it for yourself, and my take on it is this: Clutch is a band that will never lose its appeal and one that will always bring a badass live performance whenever and wherever they play. They definitely owned the stage that night, and they knew it too. The set lasted forever. It was just never ending, and that’s a good thing! The whole time, lead singer Neil Fallon was right in the face of the crowd, and everyone was desperately trying to capture the moment on their digital cameras.

After the performance, everyone was handed a flyer announcing the official “Clutch After Party” at a bar around the corner where some other acts would be performing as well. I hate to say it, but I didn’t go. I was tired and hungry and completely satisfied at this point. I didn’t need anymore entertainment for the night. Shit, I even forgot about the dreadful experience I went through to get to the show. Good times.

Photo Credit: Angelo Ismaelito