There are a lot of things that can be said about The Bitters live in concert that can also be said about being ambushed by Genghis Khan’s Mongol horde. All songs are sudden and powerful, mathematically precise and terrifically decimating, producing a reaction that nestles just beneath shock. Listen to the end of the song “Pentepus” on The Bitters’ 2013 album Live in Vegas. You’ll hear “God damn it!” and “That is SICK!” picked up from somewhere on the floor. Which tends to be the only remotely social-feeling element of the performance. The music is so involved, so instrumental, so Rush-like, that to engage in traditional stage banter and theatrics would be to risk missing one of the hairpin time signature or volume changes for which the band is deservedly king.
So you’d think celebrating 10 years of playing back-breaking and face-melting prog rock would be one of those banner moments, a time to reflect and kiss each knuckle, thanking luck and good genes, possibly a diet high in Omega-3s, for narrowly escaping early onset arthritis. But the show, and the occasion, approached the way a 33rd birthday might: without a helluva lot of fanfare. “We were asked by Christy [Larson, bartender] from Motor City Cafe to play for her birthday show,” guitarist Jeff Murphy says. “Only after booking it did we realize the date coincided with our 10th anniversary playing together as a band.”
This year alone The Bitters put out the full-length Live in Vegas and the Fat Dukes of F*ck split EP High ‘N’ Live. But to celebrate sticking it out, they plan to play their first, self-titled album in its entirety, containing songs that haven’t been seen the fuzz of a monitor since 2006. Nostalgia abounds.
The Bitters10th anniversary show October 5, 10 p.m., free, with Invisible State. Motor City Cafe, 4080 Paradise Road #8, 307-1732. thebittersband.com