I started the night with a game of billiards down the street - which I won - and a couple Brooklyn Lagers at Al's Bar. The bar was originally also a show spot hosting the likes of Cro-mags and The Melvins before their renovation. Band stickers dot the walls, the bar is much more laid back than the better known Vitus. For those that prefer smaller crowds and less noise definitely a good place to hang before bands at Vitus though the beer selection there is not anywhere near that of Vitus which carries the excellent Kelso IPA along with a handful of other brews. No pool table at Vitus though and free games at Al's if you're done within six minutes so players that can run a table playing 9-ball or straight pool could possibly get a ton of games out of the machine.
I headed over to Vitus about eight expecting the show to start at 8:30. I spent the half hour talking with the bar tenders and St. Vitus sound man, Brohammer bassist and all-around nice guy Nick Cageao. After that half hour had ended, another half hour passed by before the show actually started. First band Ambiguity, an eccentric two-man improvisational unit fronted by Bob Ross look-a-like Harold "Fro" Davis Jr. on guitars and Drew Drumz on... well.. drumzzz. The ambient third track was probably my favorite though it was atypical for their sound which often had big chunky chords paired with interesting tribal beats. The band was dynamic, and didn't take themselves too seriously, ending their thirty-five minute set with a track parodying Queen's Flash Gordon titled "The Hardcore Adventures of Thrash Gordon," which had no relation to the track musically.
Lionel Pryor were excellent. They were able to recreate their progressive instrumental sound perfectly live. Most impressive for myself was bassist Andy Longo. His incorporation of multiple styles and techniques on bass was interesting to watch. Slap, alternating and even tapping out entire movements were commonplace. Tonally the band were excellent with great separation between instruments thanks to Nick. The three-man group played a mix of older tracks like Caster Troy - a misspelled reference to the 1997 John Woo film Faceoff perhaps? - and newer material off their new album Azhdahak. My only complaint was the between song banter which detracted from the progressive mood of their music. Talking with them later outside they came off as total stoners which, when looking at the album art and song titles, should have been expected. A bunch of really nice guys though. Andy's 1920's bow tie and suit creeped me out a bit. There I said it.