Mayhem & Watain – Live at Union Transfer, Philadelphia, 23-11-15
My adventure with Watain and Mayhem live At Union Transfer, Philly
So how did I end up at Union transfer on a Monday night viewing some of the darkest purveyors of the black metal scene? The short answer is I have an 18 year old son. My son and I have headed out to other venues together before that were suited more to my taste as well as his. Rob Zombie, Judas Priest and Slayer just to name a few. Even in my younger days I wasn't that deep into the black metal scene. I mean I was listening to the songs Countess Bathory and Black Metal by Venom, but that was the extent of it. So after having tickets on hand for what seemed like a couple months the day had finally arrived and I have to be honest. I didn't want to go. Work was tough that day and I had a splitting headache. But I took an Advil, a short nap and shower, sucked it up and headed out. 20 minutes later we arrive at Union Transfer. There's a lot in the back where we park and you can hear the double bass coming from the venue. Around front a self-proclaimed homeless dude begs for change for coffee. I throw him a buck. I know what you are thinking, but I don't care what he buys with that buck. If it fills his belly or eases his pain is all the same to me. Proceeding we enter the doors and I'm pleasantly surprised. Union Transfer is a well set up venue (at least for the size crowd in attendance). They have an area for merch, good sound, cleanest bathrooms I've ever seen at a place like this, a separate bar in the back which is nice being this was an all-ages show. In short, Union Transfer is a real nice venue. Ok, so I throw in the ear plugs and enter the second set of doors to witness Watain already into their set.
Remember I don't know the songs but these guys are crushing it. I mean it's a real scene. The smell of death is in the air, well maybe that's the fog machine. But that's how Watain make you feel. It's all very dark and macabre with skulls and impaled pigs heads. Their stage show is tight knit, as well as the playing. They look the part for sure and I actually really enjoyed them. With their departure after a short incense ritual by the singer comes the headliners Mayhem. I can't be sure but I believe there may have been less people in the club for Mayhem. They were also extremely good, but there is an odd dynamic on stage amongst the various members of the group. As the show went on I actually enjoyed this fact. Here is what I mean. Watain was dressed very similar and seemed like one unit on stage, whereas mayhem was almost like two different bands with fill in members. One guitarist is in shirt and some kind of slacks, bassist is in a ratty t and jeans. The vocalist is in full make up and costume style garb and then to the left the second guitarist is dressed like the grim reaper.
Very different from the previous act, after about two songs in I start to get the feeling that the bassist runs the show. I turn to my son and ask if the bassist is an original member. He states that he believes the bassist is the only original Member. If that's true it shows. He's comfortable and insane. For me he was the high light of the show. At one point he grabbed the mic and started spouting something about the people on the side stage of which I was one. It was great. But to be fair the whole band was killer. I knew no songs and still loved the Mayhem show. The playing and show was on point. Would I buy the records for either band? Maybe not. But that's only because these two bands are something to be experienced, not just listened to at home in my opinion. The crowd was awesome as well. There was plenty of skanking, moshing, crowd surfing and diving to go around. Great venue, killer acts, great crowd!!! And if they ever return I will be there. If lucky, I can scam an interview next time. After writing the words above I did a bit of research on Mayhem. The extent of which was reading the biography on their Wikipedia page. Wow. Hollywood couldn't write the shit that the band had been through and dealt with. And to confirm my son was correct that the bassist known as Necrobutcher is the sole original member left…
(Written by Charlie Tooth)