I once heard a story about a deaf neighbor in our townhouse complex who blasted music at all hours. When one of the neighbors went to complain he learned that the man would sit on the floor and let the rhythm wash over him so he could “feel” the music. Even for those fortunate enough to hear that is somewhat like the experience of a Neurosis show. Your body is a Newton’s Cradle; one touched, it remains in motion. The band’s San Francisco show – this year, on December 29th, is one they traditionally play before the New Year in their hometown. Although Steve von Till and Scott Kelly have long since relocated the band’s history is intertwined with the Bay Area. Their seminal 90s albums – Souls At Zero, Enemy Of The Sun and Through Silver In Blood -- were recorded when they were very much a part of the Bay Area music scene. For listeners, a Neurosis show as the year ends offers a moment of reflection and introspection. When the rest of the world is partying, their music forces you inward.
The show at the Grand Regency Ballroom was devoid of filler. The video backdrop long used by the band has been retired. Many have bemoaned its absence but Neurosis doesn’t need it. They certainly don’t need between song banter so why be afraid to let the songs stand alone? The backdrops were in many ways the product of a younger, experimental band. Now, they’ve been there and instead offer a voice of survival and experience.
The band looked – and sounded – like the Old Testament brought to life. Kelly, with his gnarled beard and unhinged growl, resembled John the Baptist after his desert exile and a more sedate von Till wove feedback with his guitar. Neurosis is longer the adventurous young men but, rather, the wise men who have ventured into the wilderness and returned to share their story. They remain one of the few bands that can make you feel what you were supposed to get in church.
Neurosis: Grand Regency, December 29
Locust Star We All Rage In Gold From The Hill The Tide Water Is Not Enough My Heart For Deliverance The Doorway Stones From The Sky
Photos by Raymond Ahner