by Daniel Turner
I felt a little nostalgic walking into New Brookland Tavern in Columbia, SC for the first time in a while. NBT has been hosting everything from national touring acts to local punk shows and open mic nights since before I was old enough to drive. It’s a very “come as you are” type of place and a bit of a dive bar, in the best way. There’s typically an eclectic crowd, the drinks are cold, and the place gets rocking. I hadn’t seen any of the bands playing tonight before, but I was certainly in for one hell of a show.
The first offering of the trio of bands was a local surf rock group named Burrito Wolf. They went on a little late as the headliner was still on the road trying to get to the venue. Burrito Wolf was a fitting opener for the night with their chilled out, lo-fi, garage surf rock sound. Bright, twangy notes contrasted the fuzz distortion on the guitar. Their vibe felt like when the first drink of the night kicks in and the edge comes off, and you just start to relax to the instrumentals. They were well received by the crowd and a local brewery employee commented to me that he wanted to book these guys for a show soon. Good on ya Burrito Wolf. Hopefully I’ll catch you at the brewery soon.
Next up was Columbia, SC based hardcore band Abacus. 3 out of the 4 band members are professional cooks as well as musicians, so if you’ve ever ordered 10 minutes before the kitchen closing at a certain Columbia establishment, you may have contributed to the raw energy that these dudes bring to the stage. Abacus funded their second album Pellicule though sales of their home made Gold Standards BBQ sauce (available here).
The pit filled in quickly while the hometown boys were setting up and things jumped off pretty immediately when they started playing. The energy got turned up a few notches by Abacus. They’re hard, loud, and aggressive. Shifty rhythms and guttural screams, pounding drums, and a solid bass line had the crowd moving in no time. Shortly after yours truly retreated away from the stage, it became apparent that I wasn’t the only one feeling my age. Between songs the singer announced that being in his 30’s was catching up with him and he may have been going a little too hard. He said that he needed a minute to go and hurl, and off the stage he went. I think the pre-show ritual of shotgunning a cold brew coffee may not have helped. The rest of the band kept the groove going and after a short musical interlude they were back to leaving everything they had on stage. Abacus goes hard and you should absolutely check them out.
Last, but certainly not least, was the headliner Diakaiju. Daikaiju is a kaiju-themed surf rock revival band from Huntsville, Alabama, now based out of Houston Texas. Think kabuki theater goes punk, but plays loud and fast surf rock in Japanese masks. This was my first time seeing the band, but I had heard they put on an amazing show and I was not disappointed! In fact I quite honestly was not ready for the spectacle I was about to behold. My first clue should have been the tequila shots placed on each amplifier as the band got set up. Daikaiju are non verbal to the point that there were no mic stands on the stage, but they still command a crowd. A quick point and a few claps turned the crowd into their own metronome. If the Rocky Horror Picture Show is the Platinum Standard for audience partici—pation, Diakaiju is closing in on the title of Gold Standard. High fives from the stage are one thing, but handing off a guitar to an audience member and crowd surfing your way to the bar to hand out shots is another. The band didn’t stay on the stage for very long, opting instead to set up in the pit. The sideshow antics kept coming as the drummer hopped back on stage, soaked his cymbals in lighter fluid and set them ablaze. The crowd that was sitting stage left had taken over the stage and the band was playing IN the crowd. I emphasized in the crowd because that quickly turned into ON the crowd. A guitar or bass player crowd surfing and playing is pretty cool, but tonight was the first time I’ve ever seen a drummer, kit and all, crowd surf while playing along with the rest of the band. The show ended in the back parking lot of the venue on top of the tour van with a steady drum beat and A LOT more fire. Best load out ever!
When Diakaiju plays your town, they call it an attack, and between the Japanese masks and the fire, it kinda feels like one. GO SEE THIS SHOW! You can thank me later!