Perhaps I sound like a broken record, but Riddle of Steel melted my face last night. Again. Playing a rare all-ages show at Cicero's -- a show the band jokingly called its "sticker release show" (see the picture) -- the trio tested out new material it recently recorded both in St. Louis and Kansas City (the latter session with a member of Shiner whose name I don't remember right now -- help, someone?). I'll keep saying this until people start going to see them, but the band's current configuration has finally coalesced, likely because of the constant out-of-town touring -- and they're amazing live. Drummer Rob Smith played a mean cowbell (and unleashed a few wicked drum solos), while bassist Jimmy Vavak took advantage of having a real stage and shifted around during songs more than I've seen him -- adding even more movement to the viscous low-end. The star of the batch of new songs is far and away "Quiet Now"; though it would fit seamlessly on Got This Feelin', it's basically a pop song cloaked in barbed-wire riffs, ominous stoner-sludge and Police-style atmospheric complexity. Other songs gave Ken Andrews/Failure, Jets to Brazil and Queens of the Stone Age runs for their money -- mostly thanks to Andrew Elstner, whose vocals continue to impress each time I see him.
The band's next show in town is the Bureau CD release show on August 11 at the Bluebird. Still think the band's not very good? Go see them, and then let's talk. Don't hate, participate.