Vicious Vacation




Virginia doom crew Salome have been busting eardrums and making waves across the Eastern half of the US on their latest tour, with stops at NYU (with Shrinebuilder/Wolves in the Throne Room) and at the SXSW madhouse, where they decimated showcases from Profound Lore/20 Buck Spin and BrooklynVegan alongside Coffinworm, Yakuza, The Atlas Moth, Zoroaster, Landmine Marathon, and tons more. The next leg of the tour is taking them through the Dirty South, and they’ve brought their buddy “Grim” Kim Kelly along for the ride to sling merch and document the whole thing, Almost Famous-style. You can read the first day’s report here… and now on to Birmingham, Alabama…

Current time: 2:14am
Current location: Jamie’s house in Birmingham, Alabama

“It’s whiskey, weed, and beer night here in Birmingham,” declared our host, Jamie, his good-natured drawl rising above the crackling Zeppelin record that had replaced the free jazz Aaron keeps cranking in the van. An affable chap with a talent for vegan cooking and a good ol’ Southern boy accent, he had set up the gig, made us dinner, kept us drinking, and was putting us up for the night in the rambling, comfortably worn-in house he shared with a handful of roommates and a menagerie of pets.  He’d come out to greet us as we rolled up to Magic City Wholesale a little after seven and helped us haul the now-familiar mountain of gear up a rickety flight of stairs, then produced a pot of curry something-or-other to take the edge off before Salome’s set.  The venue doubled as an art space and community center, and besides the usual broken windows and concrete you’d expect to find, was decorated with tons of off-the-wall art and murals. It was also cold as BALLS  inside– we couldn’t get over how damp and chilly Alabama was, especially after the Texas sunshine and muggy warmth of Louisiana.

The drive up wasn’t quite as eventful as yesterday’s, although, as usual, the hunt for vegetarian-friendly restaurants proved to be an adventure. We gave the Creole Bagelry an honest shot, but after realizing that they had not only were not serving breakfast items and employed the least-friendly Southerners we’d encountered so far, but were out of coffee on top of it all, we peeled out and drowned our sorrows at some overpriced sandwich place (instead of the $18 gallons of daquiris I suggested). Louisiana melted into Mississippi, we passed through a town called Philadelphia (!!!!) and when a gas stop took us through Meridian, Mississippi, we encountered one of the most depressing sights of the tour so far. The place was a goddamn ghost town. Desperation peered out of every boarded up window and empty storefront, dripped off every misspelled sign and leered at us from every shady check cashing stand. The streets were empty, the curtains were drawn tight, and Meridian, Mississippi, was clearly struggling to draw its last labored breaths. I’m sure there are dying towns just like it scattered across the country, but I’d never driven through a place that seemed so utterly devoid of hope. We were glad to get back on the highway.

To everyone’s dismay, our super buddies in Dark Castle had run into some difficulties in Austin and were unable to make it to the gig; fingers crossed for Atlanta tomorrow night. The first band, Drought, genuinely impressed me; for a band whose current lineup had only been in place since two hours before the gig, they conjured up one hell of a racket. Starting off with a thrashy, up-tempo High on Fire vibe and spiraling down into some noisily funereal Moss-styled doom, they ended on the lowest note they could hit, and had me genuinely wishing they’d bothered to record a demo for me to buy. The next band, Null, were instrumental, but still pulled off a nearly picture-perfect Deadbird impression with considerable aplomb, keeping things heavy, Southern-fried, and infectiously groovy.  Salome rumbled through four songs with their usual ferocity and Aaron’s take on stage banter (“We’ve got shirts in colors besides black! Gray and red totally match your camo pants and jeans. Coordinating your outfits is for squares!”), soldiering on through some technical difficulties and, to my surprise, made a killing at the merch table. The crowd was small but were definitely into it – especially the spectacularly drunk guy who cornered Kat and I and told us how “scary, but in like, a good way” Salome’s music was.

We’ve got a short drive to Atlanta tomorrow, during which I can only assume more Miles Davis and CCR will provide a soundtrack for Aaron’s musings on the difference between “brutal” and “br00tal” and his and Rob’s complaints about their itchy black cocks – that is, the brand-new rooster tattoos they got with some of the Hull boys on our last day at SXSW. Here’s hoping Dark Castle makes it out – we love them and their sweet, sweet riffs so very much. I can’t wait to see Sons of Tonatiuh, and hopefully soak up some warmer weather!


When Kim Kelly (or Grim Kim, if we’re being formal) isn’t upsetting gas station attendants and hauling gear, she writes for a number of sweet metal publications (Terrorizer, Hails & Horns, Metal Maniacs, Noisecreep, Metal Injection, and more), reps Amebix with Catharsis PR, and keeps it grim. Soak in her exploits and numerous band recommendations on Twitter.

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