[GARAGE] For the first time in a long time, Fred and Toody Cole were nervous. Six months after the breakup of their legendary garage-rock outfit, Dead Moon, the Coles were about to debut a new group—something they haven't had to do for 20 years. And their new trio, Pierced Arrows, had only six practices under its belt at showtime. But they were glad to be nervous. "We had everything in Dead Moon down to a pat art," Toody told me, excited by the sense of risk.
Pierced Arrows was the first of three bands to open for Poison Idea last Friday, but the Ash Street Saloon was already at capacity before Arrows appeared. The stage looked not unlike one from a Dead Moon show: Three members were up front—the third spot filled by drummer Kelly Haliburton (also the bassist for Defiance)—with the drum kit in the middle. And, clad in red Western garb, the Coles had not replaced their wardrobes.
But unlike the frenzied, sweating, drunken Dead Moon audiences of old, this crowd was stoic. The audience members looked like attentive subjects being told their futures by a talented psychic. They were electrically still, attuned to every sound and motion, purely perceiving, overwhelmed by the present moment and unable to give a thought to what might follow.
What they heard was, naturally, similar to Dead Moon's folk-influenced punk. Haliburton ground his sticks into the toms after each stroke, lending his simple beat a sense of relentlessness. His playing was brave and well executed considering that the shadow of Dead Moon drummer Andrew Loomis was on many minds in the house—most of all Haliburton's: "I was first and foremost a Dead Moon fan," he told me later that evening.
But as Toody led "Shades" with a sped-up bass line that could have been ripped from a Miles Davis record and, later, sang softly over the marching beat in "Clouds," it became apparent that Pierced Arrows is its own band. Near the end of the set, the band did give fans one Dead Moon song, though: The trio played a fierce rendition of "Over the Edge," a track that Dead Moon hadn't performed in a decade. The crowd inhaled together and then went wild, collectively realizing that Haliburton, the new songs, the mild experimentation—everything—was great.
And the band was equally relieved: "They were listening," Fred said afterward, "really trying to pick up on what we were doing." It was an intense experience that the Coles—and their longtime fans—hadn't shared in a long time.