Monday, January 28, 2008


NOVEMBER 10, 2007

There’s no stage at Reggie’s in Wilmington, North Carolina, just a concrete floor. The local haunt is where bands and drinkers can get to know each other up close and quickly. Bands play crowd level, face to face where it may be rustic, but suitable if you like music played down and dirty. Reggie’s is three rooms - pool tables, a long bar and the back room where dart boards line walls surrounding an area where bands slide their equipment against a wall between set ups. It feels like a holding pin for bands and fans to work things out.
Virginia Beach’s Freedom Hawk took the floor around 11:30 bringing their stoner rock by-way-of nu-Sabbath back to Wilmington. But this trip was a little lighter, the band having lost guitarist Matt Cave, leaving drummer Lenny Hines, bassist Mark Cave (yes, brothers) and singer guitarist TR Morton lighter, but remaining a heavy trio of power groove metal musicians and high pitched rock vocals.
The band decided to finish their booked shows in lieu of cancelling but the loss of a guitarist made playing more work for TR. Having seen the band previously it still sounded heavy and entertaining. Something was missing, but the band soldiered on, playing a refined set of mostly new material. ‘Stand Back’ was an interesting stand out, bridging Sabbath inspired solos with crunching, breakdown riffs. The band played consistently, almost defiantly, like the east coast’s answer to Fu Manchu - keeping it simple and thick with harmonious metal groove. It wasn’t heavy riffs and growls, but power riffs and soulful rock delivery wrapped in metal packaging.
Freedom Hawk’s sound was large, like trying to force an elephant to fit in a closet. It was also melodic for such heavy handed playing - a wall of guitar riffs pushed out sludge heavy, soaring and moving like swells and waves at the same time. The band played tough and very loud; Hines’ drum sticks hammered the skins like tree trunks and Cave’s bass marched tightly alongside. The band pulled out standards ‘Universal’ and ‘10 Years’ along with newer songs ‘Palamino,’ ‘Land of Lost’ and ‘Sunlight.’ When they played thye did so with great concentration, Morton’s eyes closed tight much of the time and Hines played with his head down and eyes closed. Cave seemed to watch over, as if the band were huddled down for a fight.
As the band tried to end their set people yelled for more, twice actually, and they complied, closing with ‘Bad Man’ in which TR opened with a grinding guitar riff and sang “I’m a bad man, and you’re a bad girl,” the last word squeezed out for effect.
Afterwards, a kid invited the band and anyone else back to his place, a keg waited he assured. The kid was still grooving on the music he heard, singing out loud and throwing his head around. Morton smiled at the kid’s energy and eventually asked where the kid was form. The kid replied, Virginia Beach. Small world.

Story and photos - Brian Tucker

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