Last Night: Jinchuu, Mehkago N.T., and Torche at Churchill's

Ryan Russell

Jinchuu, Mehkago N.T., and Torche

Saturday, September 6

Churchill's Pub, Miami

Better Than: The great majority of the corporate metal shows to hit the area in recent months.

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The Review: Here's one thing about underground rock audiences in Miami. They may be smaller than in other cities, but what they lack in number they make up for in fierce loyalty. So it was that Saturday night was bustling at Churchill's, packed with pumped-up dudes (and more than a few ladies) ready to get down and break a sweat. The occasion? A quick hometown gig by the boys of the increasingly high-profile Torche, before the band leaves for yet another outing through Europe and, for the first time, Japan.

Look, I'll freely admit Torche is one of my favorite current bands, regardless of the fact that they're from here. I've seen the band play in three different states now and have acquired two of their T-shirts along the way. I have no critical distance any more so rather than try to weigh some minute pros and cons about the show (and trust me, cons were few to nonexistent), I'll just report what happened for those who sadly missed out.

So, first up was opening act Jinchuu, a foursome who shares a guitarist with Shitstorm, the side project of Torche drummer Rick. Sort of a punk/grindcore/thrash hybrid, they sounded more grindy Saturday night. It's a sound you already either like or you don't, as most songs go something like: "(Screeching voice) Rah! Raahh Rahhh! RAAAAHHHHH! (start-and-stop guitars, start-and-stop guitars, drums-drums-drums-drums-drums)." Jinchuu execute the genre ably. But the most noticeable thing about the band was its singer, who looked like a pretty clean-cut, short-haired dude, except that he was wearing a costume vampire cape.

Mehkago N.T., up next, kicked it more old-school, with a furious wallop of heavy hardcore at punk speed, seemingly powered by a very large pair of gonads. The drummer of this act is, again, Rick from Torche, and the frontman is Shitstorm's P-Dub. He truly owns the stage, pacing in that angry caged-animal, back-and-forth way, his words spurting out in heaved bursts, lungs collapsing with every yelled breath. A circle pit opened within about five minutes, with guys well into their twenties karate kicking and floor-punching. The skinny and not-so-skinny alike stave dived, bodies and sweat flying. Mike props were given aplenty. Fists were pumped. Holy crap, Mehkago N.T. was the evening's not-so-sleeper hit.

And finally, Torche. Over the past year-and-a-half or so I've seen the band play countless times, in three different states -- on one occasion, twice in the same day. And what continues to impress me is that I have yet to see these guys have an off night (or afternoon). They blast out of the gate running, eschew stage patter and other unnecessary bullshit, and continue at full throttle for their entire set. The opening song was the can't-fail "In Return," which, with its circular, pounding riffage set heads banging, speakers shaking, and the room positively vibrating. Much of the rest of the set consisted of material from the group's latest album, Meanderthal, and it was clear that several of those tracks were the closest the band has to hits. The rendition of "Healer" in particular was a hands-up, sing-along affair (and, conveniently, the song has also got a bona fide video forthcoming). Also used judiciously throughout were deliciously sludgy passages that sounded almost improvised, some moments of high-decibel relative calm, during which to zone out and stare at the floor. But only a few of those moments, because the sonic rug would surely get yanked out again from underneath our feat. It's this unpredictability and musical versatility -- a light-footed dance between slow and fast, heavy and melodic -- at which Torche continues to excel. -- Arielle Castillo

Personal Bias: It's no secret I'm a huge Torche fan.

Random Detail: We all know better than to touch any surface in a Churchill's bathroom. But the ladies' cubicle in the back of the main room reached possibly a new low, with a sink clogged with chunky vomit.

By the Way: Torche heads to Europe in September and October with Pelican, returns to the states for an outing with Coliseum and Clouds, then heads to Japan in November with Coliseum, then returns back to the states in November to finish up with Clouds and Black Cobra . Phew.

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