And You Will Know Us By The

Trail of Dead

April 19, 2003, Irving Plaza, NY, NY

Before the Trail of Dead even took the stage, co-leader Jason Reece made their foreboding   presence felt. In enthusiasm for the opening band America is Waiting (who were otherwise marginal,) Reece hurled himself into the crowd, igniting the room like a firestorm. For the rest of the night, the Trail of Dead tore the place up, living up to their name—In their wake they left mangled guitars, ruptured eardrums, torn drumheads and streamers of bloody gauze.

But despite the ominous name (which is derived from some obscure parallel between a Mayan corn god sacrament and ancient Babylonian texts) and their aggressive tendencies, the maelstrom was all in the name of good clean fun. They blazed a sonic boom of crafted noise, from the opening It was There that I Saw You to the complete onslaught of Homage. Somewhere around Blood Rites they completely lost control and trashed the stage, dismantling and distributing the drum-kit and other instruments throughout the audience. But they managed to pick up the broken pieces and pull themselves together for a second movement.

  Besides having a Who-like affinity for destruction, the Trail of Dead also switch instruments so often that it is hard to tell who is who. This chaos is compounded by the fact that they all look the same—indeterminate ethnicity, Caesar mop-tops, and standard issue black jeans and shirts—giving them the appearance of punk Children of the Corn. Conrad Keely is the other fearless leader, who like Reece, plays guitar or drums equally well. Lurking in the shadows was the quiet guitarist Kevin Allen, perhaps the only stable force to the cacophony—perpetually hunched over, with the neck of his guitar pressed into the trashed Marshall stacks for optimal feedback effect.

In the end, the Trail of Dead boiled with testosterone, but seemed devoid of ego. They blurred the barrier between audience and performer, often handing the microphone over to the nearest fan or letting any outstretched hand strum their guitars. By the time the encores came around, Keely said, “Y’all may as well just come on up here. Why not?” At which point, half of Irving Plaza took to the stage for the final number. It was a complete free-for-all… With all the ripped-out cords, knocked-over instruments, and groping hands, was it possible that the Trail of Dead somehow never skipped a beat? Did bassist Neil Busch really hurl his guitar haphazardly over his shoulder into the sea of fans? It may have been a roadie’s worst nightmare… but man what a show!  

Want to find out more about The Trail of Dead? Check out www.trailofdead.com.

 

 

 

 

Get on the ...Trail of Dead at  73x18Tower Records Logo

 

(c) 2003 Text and Photos by Derek White