Union is a weird venue (and I say that entirely with love.) The range of genres and performers you can see there within any given three day period is unparalleled; multiple rooms and the willingness to take risks and work with promoters and musicians from vastly different scenes gives many acts a proper home beyond DIYs and dives – often juxtaposing seemingly alien niches on a single patio on the busiest nights. This lack of pretension has allowed some of the most intimate and (truly) stacked metal lineups to flourish here over the month of May – all beginning with Cough and Grime.
A quick glance at Midnite Collective’s past events reveals a finely curated selection of some of the most forward thinking and refined artists in doom and sludge – bands more than capable of exceeding the expectations set by the buzz and hype surrounding them: Cough and Grime being no exception to the standard. The night began with support from Midnight Collective favorites Trapped Within Burning Machinery and -(16)-, each delivering charged performances that set the tone perfectly. -(16)- has grown on me quite a bit as my initial exposure to their live show in the past left something to be desired. Moments after they took the stage at Union something clicked for me and a true appreciation grew: Chris Jerue’s vocal delivery is captivating and never feels as if it lacks complete devotion and focus. This level of intensity is mirrored by the entire band and the resulting soundscape is something that thrusts weight on the listener in a way very few bands are capable of after 27 years of existence.
Grime’s performance in LA was not only their first in the city but their first in the US; an occasion nearly eight years in the making. Traveling from Trieste, Italy, the band was facing this short US run as a trio yet their massive sound made no indication any member of the band could possibly be missing. Described by a friend of mine as “Vermin Womb but slowed waaaaaay down,” Grime’s live show maintained the truly crushing spirit of the aforementioned while generously mixing in the filthiest vocal texture I’ve heard in years. After witnessing their set I honestly can’t think of a group more deserving of the name and I’m eagerly awaiting their return to the states.
Following a brief set change (and a gasp for air by those of us pulverized by the acts we’d all witnessed by that point) the ceremony approached its end with Cough, hailing from Richmond, VA. Presented by Midnite Collective at almost each SoCal appearance over the past four years, Cough’s reputation drew a packed house of devoted fans and followers familiar with what was in store for the night. Nearly abstract projections of hammer horror clips provided a perfectly fitting backdrop to the set as the band filled the stage and conjured a hypnotic mix of the most soul crushing and melodic compositions to fill the air throughout the event. The essence of grace that compliments their music so well is exactly what sets them apart from so many other acts in this genre and gives their presence a very real and relatable emotional backbone. As it’s felt with each Cough show I’ve seen, I was once again left wanting the set to be twice as long; here’s to hoping they’ll grace LA with another performance soon.
Words and Photos by: Dillon Vaughn