Date: July 5th 2018
Review by Nathan Slack
Photography by David William Hatton
In April 2016 Mike IX Williams, lead singer of crust punk/sludge pioneers Eyehategod, was found unresponsive in his hotel room whilst out on the road in Kentucky, USA. Years before, Mike and his partner were told that his liver cirrhosis was so severe, that he would be dead within the year if he didn’t get a transplant, but in 2016 Mike was cleared by his doctor to tour again with Eyehategod.
Whilst on that tour Mike fell into a coma that lasted several days.
On Oct 10th of that year, Mike started coughing up blood and was again rushed to hospital where it was determined that his liver and kidneys were failing. He was placed on life support and was told that he wouldn’t be leaving hospital again without a new liver.
Long time friends of Mike, Phil Alselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint) and Randy Blythe (Lamb of God) stood in for Mike on a few shows as friends and family desperately tried to gather the cash for Mike’s life determining transplant. I personally gave some cash to his crowd funding website and followed his progress as he managed to find a match and underwent surgery.
Mike, ever the fighter, survived and eventually went back on tour with a vengeance, touring the US extensively, then Europe, including a triumphant return to Desertfest London before heading to the mainland and doing the festival circuit. A surprise show was then announced at the Underworld and I have to admit that I was so emotionally attached to Mike’s story that I just had to go…
Having never seen them before I hope you guys can forgive me for thinking that maybe I might not see them live ever again. I really really hope that is not the case because Mike seems to be one of the nicest blokes going in metal.
Tonight’s openers are Gurt, a stompy sludge band from Bristol who have great heavy groovy riffs to their songs and are a band that don’t headbang, but groin thrust to their songs…apparently. A pretty good size crowd is in attendance to catch tonightäs openers, who I believe to be one of the leading UK sludge bands emerging into the British scene today.
They have a definite confidence and swagger on stage and command your attention unlike most opening acts. I was very impressed with their set, shook the dude’s hand later on and got me a patch. One to watch.
I understand why DVNE are here; they are a UK band with sludge elements but are far more proggy and experimental than most sludge out there. I’m not quite sure if they really work here tonight, but I will admit that proggy tinkering really isn’t my thing.
I’m pretty jealous of Eyehategod’s American tour lineups that often include an insane amount of awesome bands….Cro-mags and Pig Destroyer to name a couple. Not to detract anything from DVNE who put on a great performance, but I felt they weren’t a big enough name for tonight’s bill.
Then Mike of Eyehategod appears on stage like a haggard ghost in a black army jacket and all hell breaks loose as they belt out the opening track, Lack of Almost Everything. We are then treated to 1 hour 15 minutes of pure crusty punk and sludgey riffage. There are definitely a few crusty’s in tonight from the smell of them as the mosh pit goes totally bonkers.
I have to admit to being a bit taken by surprise at how brutal the pit was, as other sludge pits I’ve been in (Crowbar, Weedeater) have been more headbanging and bouncing off people. 3 songs in I got a crack to the nose which gave me pause as blood trickled out of my nozzele. Convinced it was broken I tried to hang back a little and failed, crashing into that damned pillar more than once. A few songs later, between songs, Mike asked us how we were doing to which I shouted, “What about you?! How are you?!”
To which he replied, “Don’t worry about me motherfucker!” And then went straight into Sisterfucker.
I laughed and if I thought that Mike was going to be looking for sympathy at his shows I was greatly mistaken. Eyehategod were so amazing live and I felt privileged to have been there.
Defiantly a contender for the best gig of the year so far, and as they ended the gig with White Nigger and New Orleans is the New Vietnam, Mike lingered around the front, shaking hands, posing for photos and signing merch. I turn away; I was never really interested in doing the whole groupie thing and I head up the steps. Looking back I expect him to have left the stage by now but he is still there, meeting his fans like a top bloke, and I swear at myself, dash back down and hold up my hand. He takes it and I tell him to take care. He just smiles and thanks me humbly.
But we mean it Mike, take care and come back and play a storming set once again.
Lack of Almost Everything
Jack Ass in the Will of God
Parish Motel Sickness
Left to Starve
Inferior and Full of Anxiety
Sisterfucker (Part I)
Sisterfucker (Part II)
Take as Needed for Pain
New Orleans Is the New Vietnam
Peace Thru War (Thru Peace and War)