Six Organs of Admittance and Major Stars at Brighton Music Hall, November 30, 2012.
Ben Chasny has been involved in close to a dozen different projects, and a fair majority of those involve acoustic guitar. The only ones that veer close to the sort of brimstone and hellfire guitar freakouts that punctuated tonight’s performance are the solar flares of Comets On Fire, and the three headed flame beast that is Rangda. Otherwise, the raags and intricately picked guitar lines that he’s known for are coming from a hollow body. Even under the Six Organs name, he’s played in a variety of guises; most of the time I’ve seen him solo, but he’s played as a band (John Moloney and Keith Wood of Hush Arbors who ironically were down the street a half mile opening for Dinosaur Jr.) a half dozen years ago, and this was another rare opportunity to see him tear holes in the troposphere.
Ascent is the newest record, and formed the majority of his set. Which was fortunate, as the electric material is custom fit for this four piece (Casey Keenan on drums, playing double duty along with Major Stars; guitarist John Shaw, and bass player Andrew Mitchell who had also played acoustic guitar with Ben on the touring lineup that included Corsano). The soaring, keening, screaming tone that Chasny wrenched from his unfashionably white stratocaster was never better than during “Close To The Sky,” a molten workout that left fumes in the air. It made my eyes mist up at the thought of Comets On Fire perhaps walking the land again.
The night ended with Ben alone on stage, first playing a quiet song with a sweet vocal (“Words For Two” from his breakthrough School Of The Flower LP) and then a nice cover of Epic Soundtracks’ “Roll The Stone.” Though the crowd was not as thick due to the Dinosaur Jr show (at one point Ben thanked us for coming out on a Tuesday night), everyone walked away knowing they’d witnessed something special.
As (bad) luck would have it, I only caught the last few minutes of Major Stars’ final song, and their particular brand of foaming at the mouth psych guitar freakouts is always a sight to behold. Next time I’ll plan for better time management.