Cathartic. Intense. Passionate. Heavy. Loud as fuck. These are a few of the words I’m able to string together off the top of my head as I sit down to write about Today Is the Day’s absolutely flawless performance in Indianapolis on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.
All the cool kids were apparently at the Murat Theater for the Motörhead show that night, but the few people who chose to visit the 5th Quarter Lounge instead were treated to a show they are not likely to forget anytime soon. Vocalist/guitarist/founder Steve Austin poured his heart and soul out all over that room, and drummer Douglas Andrae and bassist Trevor Thomas formed a completely impenetrable wall of rhythm to help drive Austin’s demented vision straight into my very core. “Professionalism” is another word that has been rolling around in my mind since the show; I have no doubt that if the place had been sold out, the performance would’ve been exactly the same. A lot of people in a lot of different lines of work could certainly learn a thing or two from the professionalism on display there.
Quick backstory: Mrs. Stay Heavy and myself had every intention of attending the Motörhead show, as mentioned previously in these pages, but when Lemmy’s health took a turn for the worse and they started cancelling shows and cutting them short not long before their scheduled Indianapolis stop, we decided to not get tickets. In addition, the Murat Theater is a less than ideal venue for a band like Motörhead; it’s the kind of place that Chris Isaak plays, and I can’t really imagine seeing Motörhead in a fancypants seated theater-type venue. At any rate, Today Is the Day added a show in Philadelphia and a show in Indy on their way to Salt Lake City, where they are set to kick off their tour with Abigail Williams tonight, and even though my wife is not quite into such extreme sounds, she knew I really wanted to go, and she agreed to join me, and that’s just one of the many reasons why she is such an amazing human being.
The venue appears to be located in a former church, or perhaps a YMCA – a basketball court remains upstairs (and was definitely in use throughout the night), and the men’s room was very much also a usable locker room, which I imagine works out well for touring bands who find themselves in need of a shower. It was a pretty sweet venue for a show of this nature, and I am very much looking forward to seeing D.R.I. there later this month. It had that familiar dive bar funk to it, pool tables off to the side, and the drinks were priced right.
We walked in and scoped out the room, and when I noticed the TItD merch station, I went over to take in the amazing t-shirt selection. No one was behind the table yet, so I turned around to wander back to the missus, when a longhaired fella who looked familiar to me said “Hi! Who are you?” “I’m Joel,” I replied, and MSH introduced herself, and he said “I’m Mike, I’m in (opening band) Photian Schism. Thanks for coming out tonight.” I told him I saw his band open for Death Angel back in April, and we talked about that show a bit, then I mentioned that I’d never been to the 5th Quarter Lounge before then, and he assured me that if Motörhead wasn’t playing that same night, there would easily be 100 people there.
They went up in front of about 5 people and busted out a raging set of super-tight crusty biker death metal that really has to be seen to be properly understood and appreciated. I liked them the first time I saw them, and I liked them even more the second time. I unfortunately did not get any pictures of them, as I somehow often forget that I live in the year 2015 and always have a camera in my pocket. Check them out.
After Photian Schism’s set, I went to the bar while the wife went to ladies room, and when I turned around with our drinks, I noticed Mr. Austin sitting by himself at a table, so I introduced myself and then started to sit down at the table before it occurred to me that I might be intruding (I’m not the best reader of social cues). I said, “I’m sorry, do you mind if I sit down?” and said “of course not, please do”, and we started chatting, and then Mrs. Stay Heavy came back and stood next to me for a few seconds before Steve said “please, have a seat”, and we spent the next 10-15 minutes talking, and we shared stories about the time his band toured with Motörhead, and about interactions with random people who expect something from him, and about my favorite Today Is the Day album (2011’s Pain is a Warning) and what it means to me, and about Indianapolis, and about dealing with disappointment, and about life on the road and shitty promoters, and about not forcing things that aren’t right, from which I gleaned this exceptional bit of wisdom: “Sometimes, you gotta let life drive the car, and when the time is right, you can get back in the driver’s seat.”
In this day and age of bands charging ridiculous amounts of money for “meet ‘n’ greet” sessions with “select members” of the band and the like (Testament is the first example that comes to mind – my love for that band is very well documented in these pages, but I wouldn’t pay an extra 50 dollars to talk to Chuck Billy for two minutes before a Testament show if I had Ted Turner level wealth), it was extremely refreshing to meet a man who is pretty legendary in underground, extreme music and find that he was so friendly, humble, gracious, and generous with his time.
Detroit, Michigan’s Axe Ripper took the stage next. They are on their own tour and joining up with different bands along the way. I listened to a song of theirs a few days prior to the show, just to get an idea what to expect, and I liked it well enough, but I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect when they hit the stage. Suffice to say, they were fucking awesome. The last song of their set broke into a super-sweet guitar harmony reminiscent of the finest NWOBHM bands. Check them out.
I made another trip to the merch table, and after a long and arduous process, with the help of the very friendly merch guy (whose name I did not get), I managed to decide on a shirt and stick with the decision. I also picked up a Temple of the Morning Star patch and an Axe Ripper button for my jacket.
Today Is the Day was next; the reason for my presence in Indianapolis that night, and one reason that I’m here and able to share these thoughts with you today. They exploded out of the gate with “IED” from 2007’s Axis of Eden, then followed with a song each from 2004’s Kiss the Pig, 1999’s In the Eyes of God, and 2002’s Sadness Will Prevail before getting into the meat of the performance which was heavy on songs from what are considered the “classic” albums, In the Eyes of God and Temple of the Morning Star (1997) and included three songs from the newest album, 2014’s Animal Mother.
Yes, the cool kids were downtown at the Motörhead show, but the 15 or so people gathered down the road, near the intersection of Interstate 65 and Interstate 70, were treated to a genuinely gut-wrenching, mind-expanding, noisy, cathartic, intense, passionate, heavy, loud as fuck, face-meltingly great time. If Today Is the Day comes anywhere near you on this tour, you should absolutely make plans to see them. Also, check them out.
The show ended and Steve put his guitar down, stepped off the stage, and walked right over to me. “Did you have a good time?” he asked, and I said something like “holy shit, yes, thank you so much”, and he hugged me, let the missus take a picture of us together, and told me stay in touch. I can’t begin to imagine Chuck Billy doing some shit like that without requiring a notarized contract and a down payment.
(note: I was raging too hard to keep official track of the setlist, but this is the setlist posted from the show at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia two nights prior, and I’m 98% certain it’s accurate for this show, as well.)
“IED” (from Axis of Evil)
“Mother’s Ruin” (from Kiss the Pig)
“Mayari” (from In the Eyes of God)
“The Descent” (from Sadness Will Prevail)
“The Color of Psychic Power” (from Temple of the Morning Star)
“Pinnacle” (from Temple)
“In the Eyes of God” (from Eyes)
“Spotting a Unicorn” (from Eyes)
“Possession” (from Eyes)
“Animal Mother” (from Animal Mother)
“Masada” (from Animal Mother)
“Godcrutch” (from Animal Mother)
“Zodiac” (Melvins cover, from Animal Mother vinyl edition)
“Temple of the Morning Star” (from Temple)
“The Man Who Loved to Hurt Himself” (from Temple)
In conclusion, Today Is the motherfucking Day. Thanks for reading, and stay heavy, heavy people.