As Dead Meadow closed up their set at White Oak Music Hall this week, some of the audience were apt to wonder where the time had gone after the stoner rock legends put on a heavy and introspective showing that put the room under a spell-like trance. The venue’s small upstairs stage played host to one of the only two stops the band would be making in Texas during their recently embarked summer tour, and along with solid sets by the two openers, it’s only a shame that the show didn’t get the turnout it deserved.
Not to say no one showed up, but only about a third of the (ballpark) 200 person capacity room had the right idea of where to be on a Tuesday night. The crowd was made up of mostly middle-aged rockers, likely long-time fans of Dead Meadow and who probably don’t have songs from bands like Earthless, or Sleep too far down their Spotify queue. Beards and cargo shorts or plaid and cuffed pants were seen among the guys, band shirts and skinny jeans for the ladies. All brought enough excitement and hype to make up for the fairly low attendance.
The function of this particular room is not only clear, it’s also effective. Any stage that’s about 15 feet wide and stuck at the end of a small rectangular space is going to yield loud and inherently intimate shows, no matter who’s playing. But hold it to the standard of quality for lighting and sound that WOMH brings to the table and you get a blend of prestige and DIY that’s perfect for a band like Dead Meadow. The tear down and set up between sets lacked the subtlety you’d normally see at big concerts and made the experience feel a bit like a house show, which is something this demographic of fans could probably appreciate.
- “I love You Too”
- “Everything’s Going On”
- “Let’s Jump In”
- “What Needs Must Be”
- “Nobody Home”
- “The Light”
- “The Narrows”
- “Sleepy SIlver Door”
Dead Meadow brought along some friends in Saint Pé, but Houston’s own Funeral Horse rolled out the welcome wagon with a noteworthy set that made more than efficient use of it’s short time. The trio’s flavor of heavy garage rock doesn’t try hard to break boundaries, but instead showcases a level of nuance and experienced songwriting that manages to feel both pure and refreshing at the same time. Saint Pé themselves, fronted by Ian Saint Pé, who earned his stripes as a longtime member of The Black Lips, primed the crowd with a heavy, yet upbeat Southern-tinged grunge set. But the mood switched gears once Dead Meadow took to the stage, welcomed by cheers worthy of a packed room.
Dead Meadow operates well within their own particular brand of what tends to be labeled “stoner rock” or “psych rock.” Any given song is likely to build slowly and work it’s way up to a catharsis, and it’s interesting to see what effect that style of music can have on a large group of people in a live setting. The mix brought on by Jason Simon’s strained vocals and long-winded solos, the walls of sound raised by Steve Kille’s heavy bass, and Mark Laughlin’s expertly patient drumming made for a incredibly meditative experience. Those who made sure they were front and center were seen slowly bobbing their heads in distant acknowledgment as the band took them away with long psychedelic soundscapes and dense, climactic closeouts. The most energy seen from the crowd came in between songs when applause and cheers of enthusiasm were had.
Dead Meadow’s still got it. With a solid catalog of work that dates back to the ’90s, it’s a feat on it’s own to still have the original lineup intact, but the pay off is obvious as they’ve truly settled into becoming masters of their craft. The genre has seen better days, but the greats have been established and this band has cemented itself within those ranks long ago. The only down for this show was that it seemed to fall under the radar for Houston, which not only made for low attendance, but is probably the reason why it was absolutely freezing in the venue. Perhaps the staff overestimated the amount of people, and therefore body heat, that would ultimately be present and left the AC blasting. Or perhaps White Oak Music Hall is run by a bunch of cold-blooded lizard people in disguise. Either way, Dead Meadow performed like there was a crowd of three thousand, and they couldn’t have been appreciated more by the dedicated fans who made it out.