Following my recent enchantment with Skysaw’s Great Civilizations and subsequent interview with Jimmy Chamberlin and Mike Reina I was itching to hear this band live. It was odd to see Jimmy’s trademark drum kit positioned in the area of the opening band with Minus the Bear’s kit behind it on a riser, but that unique tom tom set up had me giddy nonetheless.
NOTE: Jimmy had his yellow Yamaha kit set up with tape covering the logo presumably because he is now a dw guy.
As they lit in to “No One Can Tell” there came that wondrous thundering lilt that I missed so much on one of my last visits to The Ritz for the Pumpkins club tour. Mike Byrne is fantastic, but I just have an affinity for Chamberlin’s style; a style that I routinely alluded to as pummeling in the interview without focusing on the other side of the coin in the light, brisk, nuanced delicacy that completes his sound.
The crowd was surely there for MTB and I overheard some of the younger whippersnappers trying to figure out who Jimmy Chamberlin was. “You know, I think he was the drummer for the Smashing Pumpkins before.” This nearly made me break into my 3 Stooges Moe Howard impression, “Why I oughtta” and smack all the 3 hipsters in succession with one brisk stroke.
The turnout for this show was not nearly the Chinese fire drill that showed up for MTB at Firestone for Anti*Pop 2009. Skysaw had a smaller audience to work with. They pulled off the equally beautiful and bombastic “Capsized Jackknifed Crisis” smoothly as Jimmy’s drum work piqued some of the listeners’ interest. The band seemed to tighten as the show went on. The crowd appeared divided as some were already fans or had paid enough attention to dig it. Others continued conversation, not ready for the slightly head-y or prog type vibe of the Eno meets early Genesis sound Skysaw sometimes evokes. The sweet and soft “Tightrope Situation” was nearly drowned out by audience chatter.
Some jerks were even screaming, “last song please!” and “no more!” The odd thing is that this all changed by the last few songs. Honestly, even though I enjoyed the thoughtful presentation of music, I was kind of missing the wide open rock frenzy that I’m used to seeing JC orchestrate. Skysaw really lit it up live, but it was more subtle than the Pumpkins’ histrionic flair. Then they ended with the unreleased “Cathedral” and unleashed a can of whoop ass on everyone’s face. The once lackluster crowd filled in the floor of the venue; the talking turned to howling and screaming, and Chamberlin dropped a crushing solo within a psychedelic jam that allowed Anthony Pirog to open up the rock guitar a little bit more with some face melting antics.
Release the Kraken!:
The bruising ending to “Cathedral” snapped the audience in line. The almost silent greeting Jimmy got as the last one to come on stage was contrasted by the raucous cheers of the final ovation as he exited. I swear the same people I heard complaining were the same ones stupefied at the end. “Last song please” turned into, “Whooo, Yeah!” “That’s how it’s done!” “Jimmy!” And “Ho-lee shit!” I think the last one was me.