The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Uncle Acid Drops The Ball At Subterranean

By Casey Moffitt in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 2, 2014 9:05PM

photo credit Ester Segarra

The anxious crowd waiting for Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats to take the Subterranean stage was eager for the British, psychedelic, doom metal band to make its Chicago premiere Tuesday night during the band's first North American tour. Perhaps some had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to catch a set in Europe, or made their way to Maryland Deathfest in May to see them, but for the most part many were seeing them for the first time.

Unfortunately Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats came out of the gate wrestling with tuning issues during the first few songs and never really put it all together during the band's 90-minute set.

Not only were those early tuning issues a distraction, but the band had a difficult time maintaining tempos. Time again songs would start at one speed and then steadily drag slower and slower. The failure to adhere to these basic elements added up to a rather sluggish and uninspired performance.

Sure, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats is a doom metal band first and foremost. It's designed to be rather lethargic at its core. Still, that doesn't mean the performers can't attack the songs with a sense for ferocity, and the band lacked to do so Tuesday night. As one associate of this writer put it immediately after the set, "It's was like they were just going through the motions."

Another lacking element was volume. As the dynamics of Uncle Acid's songs remain fairly constant, a certain amount of volume is almost needed to add muscle to the songs and the band performed at fairly reasonable decibels.

However, Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats did a nice job of creating a sense of doom and dread with their stage presence, which added to the nature of their moody tunes. The stage was sparsely light, with just six red spots at the back of the stage, two four-foot wide cat's eyes mounted on the cymbals stands and two old television sets emitting black and white static. Uncle Acid himself hovered over his microphone, long hair covering his face, looking rather eerie.

The band's vocals also sounded great. When guitarist Yotam Rubinger and bass player Dean Millar joined in, they added tight harmonies that were spot on. We'll go out on a limb here and crown Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats the Crosby, Stills and Nash of doom metal.

They also did a nice job of recreating the fuzz-drenched guitar tones they capture on their albums, and Millar's deep, rich bass tone sounded great.

Drummer Itmar Rubinger has a punishing right foot, which drove the bass drum right into your chest. It would have been much more effective if it kept a consistent tempo, however.

Perhaps the fact the Uncle Acid and Deadbeats followed Davana, who put on a blistering set of wild riffs and progressive grooves. Danava is a well-rehearsed machine, and each member of the Portland, Ore. quartet hit every time change, every deliberate tempo adjustment and every turnaround during their set. This was band that grabbed control of their songs and set the stage on fire, something the headliner failed to accomplish.

Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats will be back, no doubt, as their star continues to rise. They will be playing larger rooms in the next coming years, and we'll give them another chance as they are recording some interesting music. But on Tuesday night at Subterranean, they just didn't have it.