On November 2, the Shrines of Paralysis North American Tour launched in Los Angeles, headlined by New Zealand’s Ulcerate and also including the Icelandic band Zhrine, and Phobocosm from Montreal.
Zhrine was one of the biggest and brightest surprises at this year’s edition of Maryland Deathfest (as we discussed here and here, with photos), and now large numbers of other metal fans are getting the chance to discover what makes Zhrine so special. And so we count ourselves very fortunate to bring you a series of tour reports from the road, beautifully written by Zhrine’s manager Bogi Bjarnason (accompanied by his photos). For the earlier episodes, go here and here.
This outlander’s perspective on the crossing of our vast continent pulls no punches; flag wavers and Bible-thumpers would be outraged. But for the rest of us, these occasionally caustic and always amusing diary entries are fascinating. I wonder if we could convince Zhrine to turn West again after they reach New York and do it all again?
As we leave the Pacific coast we’ve run out of Tees both M and S. This is of little concern as waists start to widen a lot as we enter the heartland. Our CDs have all gone bye-bye by the time we hit Texas and the whole stock of posters is long gone with the wind. Our hoodies, however, are about as popular as a heap of small-pox-infected blankets.
My inquisitive mind tells me to make this a thinkpiece on the effects of global warming on merch sales, but my narrative knack disagrees.
The landscape soon turns exotic as geographic features foreign to us tundra dwellers, such as sand dunes and cacti, start appearing, accompanied by a collection of curious oddities like the letter “A” mysteriously formed on every other Arizona hillside — not so much scarlett in color, but an off-white — and the football-field-sized American flags that attach to yuge, white, bean stalks of jingoism sprouting from the Texas soil at odd intervals.
As venues grow variously weirder and/or sketchier, the crazies start circling ever more often, ever more closer. Their ramblings, either drunk and staggering, or swarming like buzzaw riffs scored by pidgin grindcore squeals. In El Paso a last-minute venue closure finds us loading into a warehouse on a back lot with “drug war execution location” written across it with blood in the dirt. Inside looms a skate park and a PA with a tendency to burst into flames. The bill features four acts below the package with a cast of members larger than the attending crowd.
The skaters proceed to bang their rails throughout most of the performances, and the absurdity of it all sees Zhrine forego their traditional onstage garb in favor of sunglasses and a surf-rock vibe. Ævar’s double bass rapes the PA with volumes loud enough to spark tiny fires and the entire touring party is hard-pressed to keep grins from turning to laughter.
The vastness of Texas is staggering, as is the mindless propaganda of the myriad billboards. To an outsider, the American obsession with God is well known, but just how massive the plague of Christ is in this state of the slack-jawed can ill be understood by one not acquainted with the marketing madness employed by your commercial church entrepreneurs. It really is hard to blame the individual being, stuck knee-deep in this swamp of unreason, for being a slow learner, when faced with the storm of hogwash swirling around them every waking hour from the cradle to the grave.
In Dallas we employ an aged Uber driver who embodies the ideology of idiocy perfectly with his claim that Hillary is the Antichrist and that the Coastal states just want free money. I give him a $2 tip and tell him to enjoy the free money and then awarded him with a 1-star review, commenting on the uncleanliness of his vehicle.
The Texan comes for Ulcerate, but as the tenderly crushing dynamics of Zhrine set in they wash them towards our merch table with the demand of “Take my money!” In the outskirts of Houston, Tobbi (guitars/vocals) declares, “Houston, we have a problem!” An uneasy silence falls over the captive audience for a brief second, all ready to cringe at the cheesiness of this apparent non-sequitur, before he continues “…we only have one song left!” At this the FOH claims that he´s “…too old for this shit!” and goes to fetch us all a free round of drinks.
The untold miles pass by in a series of fugue states spanning city to huge city. The hotels exist in a heartbeat of snatched REM episodes and the feral force of repeat Ulcerate sets slowly becomes common place, yet the onslaught always ends way too soon.
Dallas is a highlight soon eclipsed by the magic of New Orleans. After the mind-boggling grandeur of the Buc-eeys stations of Texas, the filth of Louisiana is mitigated only by its fetid air of culture and the depressingly refreshing hue of American history tinting even the shells of a million cockroach backs.
Today we speed through Mississipi and Alabama under a chorus of early morning snores and descend upon an unsuspecting Florida. Tomorrow the gun range awaits.
SHRINES OF PARALYSIS TOUR
Nov 02 Los Angeles, CA Complex
Nov 03 San Francisco CA Elbo Room
Nov 04 Portland, OR Panic Room
Nov 05 Seattle, WA Highline
Nov 06 Vancouver, BC Astoria
Nov 08 Oakland, CA The Golden Bull
Nov 09 San Diego, CA Brick By Brick
Nov 10 Tempe, AZ Yucca Tap Room
Nov 11 El Paso, TX Mesa Music Hall
Nov 12 San Antonio, TX Limelight
Nov 13 Houston, TX Acadia Bar
Nov 14 Dallas, TX Reno’s Chop Shop
Nov 15 New Orleans, LA Siberia
Nov 16 Gainesville, FL Atlantic
Nov 17 Tampa, FL The Brass Mug
Nov 18 Atlanta, GA 529
Nov 19 Richmond, VA Strange Matter
Nov 20 Baltimore, MD Metro Gallery
Nov 21 Trenton, NJ Championship Bar
Nov 22 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle
Nov 23 Boston, MA Great Scott
Nov 24 Montreal, QC Piranha Bar
Nov 25 Toronto, ON Coalition
Nov 26 Detroit, MI Corktown Tavern
Nov 27 Chicago, IL Reggies
Nov 28 Pittsburgh, PA The Smiling Moose
Nov 29 NYC, NY Saint Vitus
For ticketing info visit http://www.ulcerate-official.com/