Smooth Sailing

The name Beerijuana practically begs for a snarky remark — or 27 — or 420... Heh. But the fact of the matter is, unfortunate name or not, these guys are brutal. They melt faces. And their lead singer, Paul "The Prophet" is a tank, so watch what you say.

Beerijuana descended upon The Blank Club in San Jose on Wednesday, May 30, with their pummeling, thrashy, metalcore sound — powering through tributes to intoxication, fist fights and hangovers with blast beats, alternating banshee-gutteral screaming and plenty of djent. This band draws a rough crowd — burly bikers, burnouts and serious drunks. Black jackets, covered in patches denoting motorcycle- and drinking-club affiliations could be seen all around the room. Beer and whiskey flowed freely. As the crowd jostled about in a decent sized pit for a Wednesday night to songs like "Drunken Power":

While it is often called the capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose's music scene has a decidedly working-class vibe. Hardcore, metal and (for whatever reason) psychobilly seems to abound in this South Bay outpost — as all the contemplative indie bands and knob twisting electronic acts seem to pass through the city on their way down to Santa Cruz or SoCal.

But that's OK. After all, if it weren't for this town's affinity for the heavy, I may have never encountered supporting acts Smooth Sailing (Seattle, pictured above) or Granted Earth (Monterey, Calif.).

With two bass players and tricky time signatures, the sometimes-ambient, sometimes-explosive Smooth Sailing struck me as a less technical version of Between the Buried and Me crossed with ISIS and San Francisco's very own Animosity.

"Buy this guy a shot and bring me one, too!" guitarist and lead-screamer Chris Elizaga said after the group's first song, gesturing to a lonely mosher. Smooth Sailing, which lists Converge and Botch among its major influences, moved between Mogwai-esque moody swells of reverb and delay, through technical noodling, on to bone-dry, crunching breakdowns, switching adeptly between each transition, and making even the oddest, halting time change seem... um... smooth.

Monterey stoner-metalheads Granted Earth opened up the show with throbbing, bass-heavy and fuzzed-out riffs, performed by the lovely Rebecca Ugale (guitar) and Mallory Mickel (bass). Jon Ugale (drums/vocals) supported the gooey, psychedelic march, with straightforward four-on-the-floor drumming, and growling over the top of it all.

It was a nice mix of genres — moving from the sluggish, churning rhythms of Granted Earth, through the spacey, cerebral sounds of Smooth Sailing, and then, at the very end, once everyone was drunk enough to forget how much the Thursday workday was going to suck, Beerijuana came in to hammer everyone on the head and send them home to sweet, unconscious slumber.

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