Codeine – Bell House 2012 [uncut#7]
Brooklyn, Bell House 29 June 2012
Set List: D > Cigarette Machine > Median > Tom > Sea > Pickup Song > Jr > Loss Leader > Barely Real > Washed Up > Cave-In > Pea > Promise of Love > Broken-Hearted Wine
Words by Brandon Stosuy
The N.Y. slowcore trio Codeine were one of my favorite live acts in the early 90s because of the emotional and musical weight of their sets, a heaviness intensified by the glacial pace of the music. (Their drummers, first Chris Brokaw and then Doug Scharin, looked like they were playing in slow motion underwater.) The band also possessed a cleanness and clarity, something echoed in the icy, spare covers of their two Sub Pop full lengths, 1990’s Frigid Stars and 1994s White Birch, and reflected in the eyes of sad-sack vocalist and bassist Stephen Immerwahr (at the time, those eyes reminded me of pools of slush). But there was power and strength in the sadness: Masters of an intense concision, Codeine made some of the heaviest music I’ve ever heard.
And it’s aged well. Their output– the aforementioned LPs plus 1992’s Barely Real EP — was reissued last year, and Immerwahr and guitarist John Engle got back together to play shows with Brokaw. They didn’t get “fancy” or add anything to the originals, and the shows were as powerful as the ones they did 20 years ago. In an age of excess, Codeine remain a band that knows each element has its place and that there needs to be space for these things to breath.
Tools: Sony HVR-Z5U, Sennheiser MKH418S – M/S Stereo Shotgun Microphone
Promise of Love