We arrived at Bart and Urby’s around nine o’clock. What I didn’t know is there was a bar and patio that separates the casual bar goer from the actual venue, The Other Side. The bar itself acts as a kind of decompression chamber, a way to get a buzz on to draw focus away from the inevitable Tinnitus. Also, who could say no to $2 Yuenglings on tap? The bar has a mahogany aesthetic with paintings of cats and rabbits done in a Picasso-esque style, divided into separate triangular portions. Here, fans and band members alike stock up on alcohol and conversation.
The Other Side is a tiny brick rectangle that acts as a tunnel, blasting concentrated sound. If played too loud, a band goes from playing music to harmonic fuzz. The first act, a two piece band called Clerikal Error, is content with this. Their chords washed out in a screeching echo, rendering them indistinguishable.
“Don’t cheer us. We’re really not that good.” The drummer says.
They played a few seemingly original songs and a possible cover before they’re stopped by an unknown figure, probably the sound guy, hanging in the back.
“Huh. I guess that was our last song.” They wave to a crowd of about a dozen and saunter off stage.
I head back to the bar for another Yuengling only to find myself accepting a shot of Jager, along with beer of course. A significantly larger crowd files in for Bloodeagle, a three piece metal band and arguably the headliner. A clear divide is set up for those who want to drink and listen and those who want to mosh. Bloodeagle opens their show with a Stone Cold Steve Austin video before kicking out their thrashy jams. Arms and legs overwhelm a couple moshing newbies, who have seized up like statues. They are pummeled out of the pit. Thirty seconds into the first song and the concrete floor is decorated with broken glass and beer residue. Eventually blood would mix in as another mosher leaves, clutching his wrist. A maroon swirl would soon turn into a smear as a couple metal heads intentionally slide through it. Bloodeagle finished their set with a cover of “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica, appeasing repressed long hairs like myself and an older crowd unaware that metal survived the 80s. Bloodeagle came, saw and conquered.
Another beer or two (maybe) and Foul Taste is mostly set up. The crowd has noticeably cleared out but there is still an ebullient few ready for a band with the succinctness of punk and guttural growls of black metal.
“I’m kinda high.” The singer announces, unbuttoning his flannel shirt.
Out of the three bands, Foul Taste does the best job balancing their sound to avoid incoherency. The singer looks out toward the crowd with an air of confusion before muttering into the microphone. In the far corner I see the man who told me about this place. A short man with a long trench coat on, black hair mostly contained by a fedora. What are the odds of seeing him here? I sardonically debate myself. Foul Taste finishes a song with primal screaming which, when echoed, was shockingly eloquent.
“I didn’t write lyrics for that song yet.” The singer states. Apophenia at its finest.
They finish their set with a cover of “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath, replacing their singer with an unabashed dreadlocked man. I later learn it was the singer of the actual headliner, a sludge metal band called Earthmouth. Unfortunately, I left before they took stage.
Outside, Wilkes Barre is damp. I am sufficiently tipsy with a static ringing in my ear that would last until morning. But that monotonous ringing would be a steady reminder of a night filled with solid music, good drinks and splendid people.