Death, Pure Bliss, Disappearing People
October 31,2013
The New Parish
Oakland, Ca

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I See Death, People

                Saying we were seeing Death on Halloween felt like kind of a Who’s On First sort of situation, but it was true. As a part of the (((Folk YEAH!))) conglomeration, the amazing band Death was playing at The New Parish in Oakland. Death amongst wandering souls recently risen from the afterworld, goblins, ghouls, Insane Clowns, Brittany Spearses and slutty devil-chicks. Not to mention children (and bums) dressed up begging for candy. It promised to be a jaw-dropping night as we made the pilgrimage across the new and sprawling span of the Bay Bridge. I dressed up as Henry Miller and Candice was deciding between being a politically correct Chinese woman or Anais Nin. She also toyed with the idea of being herself for Halloween. This was her ultimate decision. That’s the beauty of Halloween, it’s the one day where anyone can be anything they want. Even if that anything is nothing.

As per usual we got to The New Parish punctually and it was pretty mellow in there as the first band, Disappearing People was playing. They were an interesting duo, a singing guitarist accompanied by a drummer. They were swimming in reverb, both in the tar (my new slang word for guitar)and the vocals and each song had a sort of mellow drone to it where I felt sort of hypnotized, not able to correctly discern when one song ended and the next began. It was like being in a dream –or at least the dream sequence of a movie. Surrounded by humanoids imitating the dead and the damned, I was just waiting for the mullet-donning singer to turn into Freddy Krueger and start wrapping people up in guitar strings or something. That never happened of course, but Candice and I went outside for a smoke just in case.

The previously scarce population of rockers was rapidly escalating and as we stepped out there was a line accruing at the front door. We started seeing some familiar faces too, including our good friend Jamal. We were talking to Jamal about his comical affinity to ICP, him being a monetarily successful black man born and raised in San Francisco didn’t really fit the mold of the Juggalo and we playfully discussed his affinity for that particular variety of music/lifestyle when our good friends Jim, Miyuki and Bob showed up. Miyuki and Jim were characters from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Bob was a man-sized bee. Candice quickly nicknamed him Bumble Bob and that remained his moniker for the rest of the night. Bumble Bob was also quite buzzed (get it?) and the night was becoming more interesting with each passing moment. Bumble Bob and Jim play a variety of music and Jim’s in a band called For the Ladies; we were discussing their projects when a weird youngin approached us looking sort of like a raver who fell asleep outside the gym and woke up a month later then came straight to The New Parish. He was walking from group to group asking for candy. We told him we had none and, upon his exit, he left us with some words commemorating Juggalos. Candice, Jamal and I raised our eyebrows aghast, having just spoken of the devil and Jamal said “I guess we can smell each other.” It inspired many guffaws.

Pure Bliss

We went back inside just as the second band, Pure Bliss was gearing up to get down. Candice and I found a sweet little zone where few tread in the fast-to-overflow venue, off to the right of the stage. Pure Bliss is a four-piece from the Easy Bay and Candice and I immediately dug them. There was something very classic about their sound, like they could be touring with Thin Lizzy back in the dizzy (sorry), and I really liked the way they brought it. Their two guitarists produced some good reverby leads, like symbiotic Rad-waves bouncing up and down the walls of a canyon. Their songs would never really end so much as dissolve into warbs of noise until the next one began. Bumble Bob and Jim are friends with those guys and Bob flitted his way to the front of the stage where he could humorously comingle with their lead tarist.


Pure Bliss finished and we waited on pins and needles for the act of the night, Death to take the stage. Candice, being from Michigan and very up on all varieties of hardcore head-banging type of stuff, knew all about this band but I wasn’t too familiar until the movie A Band Called Death came out. It’s a documentary about them; three African-American brothers from Detroit playing punk rock before punk rock even existed. I feel that claims to who the first punk rock band was is kind of a chicken-or-the-egg sort of thing, but Death is definitely a contender. Coming of age in Detroit in the crux of the Motown rhythm and blues revolution, and being three black boys who wanted to play fast and loud, it’s easy to see how they were reserved to the shadows for so long. I don’t really mind being cliché in saying they were ahead of their time because it’s true, dammit! The world wasn’t ready for Death when they came out. But their time finally came, and holy cripes Oakland was certainly ready for them that night. As the three men took the stage you could almost hear the panels of that little venue coming apart at the seams. People were cramming up to the stage and when they started playing it was like an electric wave shot through the world and the crowd began bubbling up like suds in a laundry machine, threatening to explode. And you could see from the energy on the stage that Death was loving every minute of it. They were so full of smiles and energy, just running around up on there and giving us all they had to give, which had us all frothing at the mouth at how amazing it was. Watching them that night there is no question in my mind that, whatever your beliefs are about the universe or meaning of life or any of that, no one could possibly deny that Death was born to play music. Their set was amazing and I can’t stress enough how essential it is, if Death ever comes a-knocking in your hometown, open the goddamned door! They have a new album coming out in 2014 from which they played a couple songs and if they hadn’t said such was the case I would have figured those songs were written right alongside all their other masterpieces back in the 70’s.


After their set we all spewed out into the night, amazed and enthralled. I had just seen one of the most incredible sets in my life and the night was young. Bumble Bob was slightly incoherent at that point having drunk a pint of whiskey and Jim and Miyuki were getting ready to turn the world upside down with their antics. It was Candice and my cue to exit, having a drive amongst the Living Idiotically Drunk ahead of us. We said our goodbyes and made out way back to the city, our heads reeling from another wonderful night of amazing tunes. Happy Halloween? Duh.

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2 Responses to I See Death, People: Death, Pure Bliss and Disappearing People at The New Parish

  1. I See Death, People: Death, Pure Bliss and Disappearing People at The New Parish | Rockward Silence

  2. Rock Stiffly says:

    Great read! I enjoyed it, Death, and that night very much. Great to see y’all! Maybe I’ll let you wear my jean jacket (signed by Death) sometime….maybe.
    P.S. Thanks for plugging FOR THE LADIES!!!