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Tuesday, October 13, 2009


By Crystal Snyder

Far down West Broad Street 11:00pm is oddly quiet for a Friday night in Richmond, cars come and go, few people walk the street, but in their hurried rush to get to various clubs and bars they miss my destination, a small pool hall called The Triple.

Upon approaching this unlikely venue, I see several familiar faces, one in particular of the man who had me coming out here in the first place, Seth Nicholls (also of Red Clay Village). Seth was excited, I could tell that from down the street, and his voice belied his cool demeanor as we talked before entering the club. He told me about the bands that were playing that night, and about his new band, the one I came to see, Before the Machine.

I quickly took stock of my surroundings as we entered the bar, blood red walls, a cool tile floor, billiards in the back, and the familiar smell of alcohol and cigarette smoke encompassed my senses, as the first bands music assaulted my ears. I looked for the familiar faces I had seen outside, the other members of Before the Machine, Johnny Throckmorton, Jeb Mease, Chris Ratterree and Mike Lester. Knowing the superb talent they showed in other bands, I felt that this new project had a lot to live up to, I knew then this was going to make for an interesting night.

As the second band took the floor, I talked to some of the other patrons of the bar, all of them excited to see Before the Machine. This was their second show, and as the second band’s set drew to a close, the tension grew thicker, almost suffocating as the guys picked up the instruments that had been so patiently waiting in the corner.

Sound check and tuning commenced as people rose from their various perches like bones rising from the dead, waiting to pass judgment. Then it happened, the first note, the first chord , and Throckmorton took the mic. With a quick shout out of “What’s up RICHMOND?!?!?” Before the Machine had arrived, and even in the Intro it was apparent they were at no less than 110%.

As they slipped into “Blissful“, “Mikie’s Song” and “Eye if the World“, the crowd reaction went from swaying bodies and nodding heads to a full on mosh pit. Mease’s drumming was right on, never once skipping a beat, the phenomenal guitar work of Ratterree and Lester surpassed my expectations, and Nicholls’s bass work rounded out the whole outstanding package.

They ended the night with “Silent Movie” and “The New Song”. Even as the clock approached 2:00am all five members never lost the breakout energy of the Intro. Before the Machine is a ton of talent a mile outside of the box and a live show should not be missed, find out where you can catch them next near you on their MySpace Page!


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