It was evident to me by the time I left the building on Labor Day evening that, as far as the average club show attendee is concerned, I am old. My standard question of "Well, do you remember this place when it was the Sports Palace?" was almost unanimously met with blank stares and looks of disappointment from the few who had heard the name but were not old enough to partake. The 'place' in reference is the new Club INT in New Britain, but from my arrival in CT in 1995 to my original departure in 1998 the non-descript building in (at the time) a fairly rough neighborhood was a bastion of original music...especially the heavy varieties.
The number of shows I attended at the old Sports Palace are countless. Hell, I'll be honest, I probably don't even remember half of them (such is the life of the audiophile who attends way more live music events than he probably should). I'm hoping the new Club INT finally fills the void in CT of that larger sized venue that gives a home to heavy music. I thought that place would have been the Webster in Hartford and for a time in the early 2000's it was. But unfortunately when Mass Concerts moved into town The Webster became 'The Palladium Lite' and the better shows still go to Worcester, MA and unfortunately Toads in New Haven just doesn't seem as interested in heavy music anymore.
What Club INT has going for it over the old Sports Palace is a) a safer neighborhood that the city has put a little money into rejuvenating over the last decade and b) better promoters who understand 'the game' a little better and can compete with the other larger sized rooms in the state for shows (and that includes The Dome at The Oakdale). I have high hopes for Club INT. Although I will say, I do kind of miss the old AstroTurf floors.
My first show in the new room was Sunn O))) and Atlanta's Dead In The Dirt. Dead In The Dirt was the perfect anti-compliment on this tour. 30 or so minutes of blistering, crusty grind to offset the 90 minutes of pummeling drone from Sunn O))). They were fast and pissed, just the way a crust/d-beat band should be. I'm a fan.
Roughly 20 minutes before Sunn O))) took the stage the smoke machines started to churn. By the time they took the stage (at least I think they took the stage, I never did actually see them through the haze) the room was so full of smoke that your eyes were watering just a tad, your throat burned just a bit and you literally couldn't see the person standing on the other side of the person next to you. If they wanted to give you the idea that you were on the precipice of hell, well, then mission accomplished. Let there be no mistakes: unless you smoke copious amounts of pot Sunn O))) can only truly be enjoyed in the live setting. Their notes, dragged down to where the sun never shines, rattled the room like a minor earthquake while the combination of smoke filled room and thunderous noises become so disorienting that you honestly feel like you are on the ferry crossing the river Styx to your doom (pun intended). Sunn O))) is not a band for everyone. Quite the contrary, they are a band for a select few individuals who like artistic performance pieces as much as live music. But for those in attendance, much like the venue in which they were haunting, they certainly did not disappoint.