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Death Revisited

Soundbites: Death Revisited, Serendipity, Killin' It, Bite Torrent, Dept. of Corrections


Published December 10, 2008 at 6:14 a.m.

So, have you seen Death tribute band Rough Francis yet? In a word: “whoa.” To my recollection, there hasn’t been this kind of buzz about a local band since . . . um, well, I’m not even sure, really. But judging by the fact that I had to wait in line for almost half an hour to see them at The Monkey House last Saturday, it is safe to say it’s been awhile.

If you’re just joining us and have no idea who or what I’m talking about, check out last week’s column and come back when you’re up to speed. We’ll wait ...

OK, is everybody on board? Let’s do this.

Composed of vocalist Bobby Hackney Jr., Jewels and Urian Hackney on guitar and drums, respectively, My First Days on Junk mastermind Steven Hazen Williams on bass and lead guitarist Dylan Giambattista, Rough Francis simply rawks. There’s just no other way to say it. But given their source material — and pedigree — that shouldn’t come as a shock.

The real surprise is how vital and relevant Death’s music sounds in the hands of musicians who weren’t even a gleam in their fathers’ eyes when this stuff was forged in a Detroit garage some 30-plus years ago. Were the scant eight tunes faithfully and passionately recreated at The Monkey that night — and the previous night at 242 Main — originals, we’d likely be talking about the hottest new retro-punk band this side of Brooklyn or beyond. But as far as the capacity crowd was concerned, Rough Francis might as well have been playing new tunes. Save for a couple of MP3s making the rounds in the blogosphere, most of us had never heard this stuff. How could we? The original master tapes had been gathering dust in a closet since 1976.

And that’s the bitch of it all. Not just that Death went largely overlooked until now. Or that the band’s leader and primary inspirator, David Hackney, didn’t live to see his own prophecy come true. (According to Bobby Hackney Sr., his brother David always knew that Death would live again . . . good call, sir.) It’s that the eight tunes released together for the first time this February are all there will ever be. There will never be a new Death song.

But there will be new Rough Francis tunes.

According to Bobby Jr., Rough Francis won’t be just a one-trick pony — but, oh, what a trick it is so far! The band is writing new material to play alongside the original eight Death songs, the idea being to keep the spirit of the defunct band intact and to bear the torch David lit three decades ago. Of course, whether they can do so remains to be seen. But were I a betting man, I’d put the over-under at “hell, yes.”

If only there were another chance to see them live this week . . .


This just in: There is another chance to see Rough Francis — and a slew of other excellent local acts — live this week! Here’s hoping you pick up this paper the day it comes out. If not, missing this show will be your penance. That oughta learn ya.

Wednesday, December 10, at Club Metronome, the fine folks from Tick Tick are throwing together one hell of a local rawk extravaganza, entitled “White Wind . . . A Happening.” Slated to appear are — in order — The Fatal Flaws, James Kochalka Superstar, The Persian Claws, The Vacant Lots, Rough Francis and Nose Bleed Island.

In addition to the wonderfully high-octane, lo-fi lineup, this show merits note because of the way it will be presented. Rather than the tired “band on stage, crowd on the floor” thing that’s been so in vogue over the last several centuries of music performance, each band will set up in various locations inside the club, blurring the line between artist and audience. When one band finishes, the next one will start immediately from an entirely different “stage.” It’s kind of like a songwriter-in-the-round show, minus the acoustic guitars and sappy love songs.


While we’re talking Metronome, this Thursday night will see a true rising star in electronic music swing through town, as Nexus Artists presents NYC’s Kill the Noise. Though the project is barely a year old, KTN has already stirred up quite a storm in electro-dance circles for boundary-smashing innovation, combining gritty synth distortion and hooky, melodic funk. If hyped-up IDM is your thing, this show is for you. Personally, I’ve never been much of a dancer. But I still might swing by just to check out the four-way tag-team DJ set from local wheel-spinners Tricky Pat, Justin REM, DJ Haitian and Chris Pattison.


Things have been a touch quiet on the local hip-hop front of late. But that all changes this Friday at the Higher Ground Ballroom. Underground hip-hop aficionados are probably already familiar with headliners Necro and Esoteric. In particular, the former is widely hailed as one of the more ferocious MCs in hardcore hip-hop. And the latter’s anthem, “Kill Bill O’Reilly,” should be a staple of patriotic Americans everywhere. Burlington’s own Burnt MD, ever the busy microphone doctor, has been making numerous house calls around the Northeast since dropping his excellent album Burnt MD & Tha Professor earlier this year. He will join the hardcore heavyweights on Friday. Also on the bill are New Hampshire’s Apeshit and Boston’s Ritehook. DJ A-Dog opens the show.

Fans of delectable indie-folk would do well to catch Brooklyn duo The Ericksons, who are making three Vermont stops this week: Friday at the Skinny Pancake, Saturday at Radio Bean and Sunday afternoon at the Langdon Street Café.

Saturday will be your last chance to catch Burlington ska-punk outfit Husbands AKA, who, following an early show at The Monkey House with Boston’s Have Nots and our old friends The Static Age, will be hibernating for the winter and working on new material. In the meantime, their debut album is reportedly in the final mixing stages and should be released shortly after the New Year.

Christmas comes early — if somewhat disturbingly — Wednesday, December 17, as The Dirty Blondes host their annual XXX-Mas Pageant with Sean Altrui and Caroline O’Connor, Blowtorch and The Wards at Club Metronome. Expect a live recreation of the birth of Christ. Really.

The Mad River Unplugged Music Series wraps up its fall schedule — can you believe it is still technically fall? — this Sunday with Canadian contemporary folk favorite Garnet Rogers. Local songwriter Patrick Fitzsimmons opens the show at the Valley Players Theater. Congrats on another great season!

Finally, there’s a new alt-venue in the capital city. Dubbed “Lamb Abbey,” the performance space is akin to Burlington’s own not-so-best-kept secret, The Bakery. This Friday, Lamb Abbey hosts a trio of talented songwriters: Vermont indie-folk impresario Kris Gruen, Will Johnson of South San Gabriel and Centromatic renown, and Chris Brokaw, drummer for The New Year. Because it’s an alt-venue, I can’t really tell you where it is, exactly. But Montpeculiar is a small town, so I imagine a clever “pioneer“ could find the right “street.” Ahem.


Last week’s review of Jay EkisTouched By War incorrectly referred to keyboardist Ron Rost as “Ron Yost.” My apologies for the goof.