Posted in Whathaveyou on February 4th, 2016 by H.P. Taskmaster
It’s been, what, hours since the last announcement from Freak Valley 2016? So yeah, we were due. The German fest seems to get increasingly badass by the band, and after delivering Danish newcomers The Sonic Dawn earlier this week, it has now confirmed that SoCal-ier-than-thou skate rockers The Shrine will take part in the weekend’s doings as well. The fest, if you can’t see it in the header above, takes place May 26-28. Anybody want to quit their job with me and fly out? Sounds like a good time, right? Baby Woodrose is gonna be there…
The art for The Shrine‘s poster is by David Paul Seymour — this isn’t the last time today I’ll be posting about his work — and the band heads over to Europe supporting their recently-issued third album, Rare Breed, which also marks their debut on Century Media. Freak Valley 2016 announced their addition as follows:
***THE SHRINE confirmed to play FREAK VALLEY FESTIVAL 2016***
We tried to get California’s purveyors of Psychedelic Violence THE SHRINE over to FREAK VALLEY since years – Finally it will happen!!
Share this post (public) and win a free 3day pass!!
Despite forming in 2008, The Shrine feel like a band from a wilder, more reckless era. With a sound that harks back to the early days of punk and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the Venice, California band has a sound that evokes the past without relying on nostalgia. Made up of guitarist and vocalist Josh Landau, bassist Court Murphy, and drummer Jeff Murray, the trio merges driving energy with bluesy riffs to create a sound that feels like an unholy union between Black Flag and Black Sabbath.
The fantastic poster was created by a true legend: David Paul Seymour.
Line-up 2016: GRAVEYARD [SW] – Vintage Rock DEAD MEADOW [US] – Psychedelic Stonerrock SPIDERGAWD [NO] – Post-Boogie WHITE HILLS [US] – Fuzzed Out Motorik Psychedelic THE SHRINE [US] – Psychedelic Violence Rock and Roll BABY WOODROSE [DK]- Psychedelic Garagerock LONELY KAMEL [NO]- Heavy Blues, Hardrock & Stoner ROTOR [D] – Instrumental StonerRock/Psychedelic MONOLORD [SW] – Doom/Sludge MANTAR [D] – Death Metal Doom Punk TOUNDRA [SP] – Postrock FARFLUNG [US] – Spacerock for 21st Century Heads BLACK RAINBOWS [IT] – Heavy Psych THE GOLDEN GRASS [US]- Heavy/Funk//Psych/Freakbeat SPIDERS [SW] – Hard/Glam Rock LÉ BETRE [SW] – Bluesy Hardrock THE SONIC DAWN [DK] – Psychedelic Rock
Posted in Reviews on October 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was only about an hour and a half to the Casino Ballroom in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, from my office, which felt like something of a miracle. Maryland heavy rock kingpins Clutch last played the venue about two years ago, but between it being the beginning of what will no doubt be a comprehensive touring cycle in support of their newly-released 11th album, Psychic Warfare (review here), and their partnering with the reunited four-piece incarnation of Corrosion of Conformity with SoCal heavy skaters The Shrine opening, it was an easy sell as far as I was concerned. Clearly I wasn’t the only one. I walked into the venue a little before The Shrine went on, and the place was already fairly packed. A large room, the prevailing mood was celebratory and ready to blow off steam. I think people were just looking for a good time.
And in kicking off the evening with a classic-rocking-but-somehow-still-punker boot to the ass, The Shrine seemed only too ready to get that good time moving. I had wondered how their very-Californian sound would translate to a chilly autumn night in New Hampshire — even one right across the street from a beach — but the three-piece of guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau, bassist Courtland Murphy and drummer Jeff Murray have busted their collective ass on the road the last couple years, and if they were out of their element, you never would’ve known it watching them on stage. Last I saw them was in early-2013 with Graveyard (review here) in Philly, and it was plain to see at the Casino Ballroom how much they’ve come into their own since. Their second album, Bless Off, was released by Tee Pee last year (I didn’t review it, but should have), following up their aptly-titled 2012 debut, Primitive Blast (review here), and their new one, Rare Breed, is out at the end of this month in Europe and in Jan. here in the States as their first in Century Media.
Their set felt quick, but it was enough to give a sense of the new album in songs like “The Vulture,” “Savage Skulls and Nomads,” which Landau told the crowd was about 1970s street gangs in New York, “Coming Down Quick” and “Death to Invaders” (don’t quote me on that last one, but I think that was it), running from the initial uproariousness of their first record to the thicker grooves of the second. This was the fifth night of the tour, which will run through Oct. 23 with the same three bands, and The Shrine were duly locked in, Murray keeping some bounce in the drums while also adding gallop to some of the more Motörheady riffing from the guitar while Murphy added backing vocals and a steady foundation in the low end. They finished with “Nothing Forever,” the longest cut from Bless Off, which emphasized some of the complexity in their approach — not t0 mention the tightness of their execution — that I think gets lost sometimes in how they present the band. Not that they should be stoic prog rockers, what they’re doing clearly works, but they’re tough to ignore after you watch them play. I’ll hope to get the chance to hear Rare Breed.
I was trying to think of the last time I saw the Pepper Keenan-fronted incarnation of Corrosion of Conformity, and I think it was in 2005. They would have been out supporting that year’s In the Arms of God, which got a mixed reception on its arrival but in my estimation remains underrated, and I believe it was Irving Plaza in New York.Weedeater and Alabama Thunderpussy may or may not have also played. Either way, it’s been a while. With the lineup of Keenan plus bassist/vocalist Mike Dean, guitarist/vocalist Woodroe Weatherman and drummer Reed Mullin — who’ve been playing as the “Animosity-era” trio the last several years and released an EP and two also-underrated albums in 2014’s IX (review here) and 2012’s declarative Corrosion of Conformity (review here) through Candlelight — C.O.C.have been playing shows throughout Europe and the UK since earlier this year, but to my knowledge this marks their first US run, at least on the East Coast, and it will preface a headlining tour set to start next month. A practice run? Maybe, but they hardly seemed rusty.
Set-wise, they dipped as far back as “Vote with a Bullet” from 1991’s Blind — which was Keenan‘s introduction to the band as vocalist/guitarist — and as far forward as the uptempo “Paranoid Opioid” from In the Arms of God, but the focus was on their two ’90s landmarks, Deliverance (1994) and Wiseblood (1996), and as someone who’s been rooting for the trio lineup the last several years sort of as underdogs working against the expectations of that portion of their audience dug deep into the heavy Southern Sabbathisms of those records, I had forgotten just how special that material actually is — songs like “Long Whip/Big America,” “Heaven’s Not Overflowing,” with which they opened, “Wiseblood” and “Seven Angels.” Hearing Dean and Mullin and Weatherman all switching off in backing vocal roles, or better, leading a sing-along all at once, was exhilarating, and Keenan, who’s spent the last several years in Down‘s descent into post-Kirk Windstein caricature machismo, is a frontman of undeniable charisma. There were some sound issues — a chirp of feedback when everyone got on mic during “Albatross,” etc. — but there was very little that would’ve been able to hold C.O.C. back, and even in the slower “13 Angels,” which was the sole representation from 2000’s America’s Volume Dealer, their last album as this four-piece (Stanton Moore of Nola jammers Galactic played drums on In the Arms of God), they were dead on in serving a refresher of just what a substantial portion of their fanbase has been clamoring for pretty much since they stopped playing circa 2006.
Keenan thanked Clutch from the stage for bringing them out and letting them, “Get their shit back together,” but the bigger news was when he announced that C.O.C. were in the process of signing to Nuclear Blast and that they’d have a new album out with this lineup in 2016. I had no official word, but I’d assume John Custer, who’s helmed all their records since Blind, will produce. Once he said it, which was I believe before “Vote with a Bullet” preceded “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” at the end of the set, my mind immediately flashed to the possibilities for what it might sound like, the balance of songwriting, who does vocals where — does the hardcore punk track still get relegated to the end of the tracklist? — and so on. Two months out from the New Year, a landmark for 2016 may have just been revealed.
Finding that out alone would’ve made my night. Even without a show. I mean, if I read that on Facebook or some shit, I’d have been like, “Well, my evening can end now, I feel like I’ve hit a satisfactory quota of awesome.” But there was still a gig going on, and Clutch were headlining! Similar to what they did after releasing Earth Rocker (review here) in 2013, and really going back further than that as well, the set was highly focused on the new album. Their stated method of one band member between vocalist Neil Fallon, guitarist Tim Sult, bassist Dan Maines and drummer Jean-Paul Gaster picking an evening’s setlist always leaves me guessing who’s responsible for what show, but in any case, between “X-Ray Visions” opening, “Firebirds,” “A Quick Death in Texas,” “Sucker for the Witch,” “Your Love is Incarceration,” “Our Lady of Electric Light,” “Noble Savage,” “Behold the Colossus” and “Son of Virginia,” the only song from Psychic Warfare unrepresented was the penultimate “Decapitation Blues.” Otherwise, they played the whole record, which coming from them is just what the crowd both expected and wanted.
“Son of Virginia,” which closed the regular set before a three-song encore, got a particularly vehement response, but “The Face” from Earth Rocker had me pulling my earplugs out to sing along, and “Elephant Riders” from 1998’s The Elephant Riders and “Dragonfly” from that same album felt like something special tossed in for longer-term fans, particularly the latter, which is a rarer inclusion. Their presence and delivery something of a given, Clutch seemed in likewise good spirits to the crowd, Fallon picking up the guitar more than he did when they were out for Earth Rocker to join Sult even on a faster cut like “Your Love is Incarceration.” They’re still tightening up some of the new material — other songs have been around for more than a year already and included in sets — but one assumes that by the time they get around to the inevitable live album sometime in 2016 or 2017, it will be no less second nature (or first, I guess) than “Cypress Grove” from 2004’s Blast Tyrant, which has become a perennial favorite and was clearly known to the packed Casino Ballroom, readily aware of that black plastic bag in the back of a jacked-up Ford.
Who could argue with an encore launched by “The Wolfman Kindly Requests…” from Earth Rocker? From its “Party’s over you all got to go” chorus to the bigger nod of its ending, the song feels hand-constructed to appear near the finish of a set, and joined by the more raucous “The Mob Goes Wild” from Blast Tyrant, for which Bryan “Uzi”Hinkley from Never Got Caught and formerly of Tree joined in on guitar, Clutch seemed geared to cap the night in high-octane fashion, but they cut back and let the more spacious “Electric Worry,” the highlight of 2007’s From Beale St. to Oblivion and an unmistakable precursor to a song like “Son of Virginia,” finish, with the uptempo kick of “One Eye Dollar” tacked on, which is nothing new but still feels like a bonus each time. One felt as though the entire venue, which was built and originally opened in 1899, was caught in the around-the-horn swirling rhythm.
By the time I managed to make my way out, the sidewalk was already flooded with weirdos, working-types and the other such and sundry who’d attended, the off-season windchill not drawing much of a shoreline crowd. I had about another 90 minutes to get home still ahead of me, so didn’t hang around long, but got to see a couple old friends and that’s always restorative, even if brief. Same could be said of the show as a whole, I suppose.
Posted in Whathaveyou on October 12th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster
Day of the Shred is dead. Long live Night of the Shred. Well, I don’t know about “dead,” but at very least not happening this year. Thief Presents, the promoter for the Night/Day fest who also put on Psycho California earlier this year, announced a couple weeks ago that Day of the Shred was off due to poor ticket sales, but the result is that Night of the Shred will happen as a standalone event and the lineup for Brick by Brick in San Diego on Halloween night is pretty impressive in itself. Eight bands on the bill, and it runs for 11 hours, so presumably they’ll all have a good amount of time to play, and in addition to being a stop on the Windhand/Monolord tour, the night will also feature The Shrine, Bang, Elder, Wo Fat and Portugal’s Black Bombaim. There are a bunch of shows that have sort of popped up in the wake of Day of the Shred being nixed (more on that shortly), but the good news is that even though that fest isn’t happening, many of the bands have found ways to make the most of the situation.
Southern California will not suffer from a lack of doom or heavy rock and roll. The PR wire brings details.
‘Night of the Shred’ Heavy Music Extravaganza Set for Halloween Night in San Diego
All Hallows’ Eve Event to Treat Concert-Goers to A Sweet Lineup of Underground Music Titans
This Halloween night, The Night of the Shred will descend on San Diego, CA, featuring a sinister smorgasbord of modern day metal’s finest bands. Billed as an experience “to gather the living and remember the dead”, The Night of the Shred will take place at the Brick by Brick music venue and will celebrate both monolithic riffs and the souls of the departed.
Curated by Thief Presents and Vol. 4 apparel and sponsored by Pabst Blue Ribbon and Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum,The Night of the Shred will feature full live sets from California skate rock kings THE SHRINE, celebrated Virginia doomers WINDHAND, legendary Philadelphia proto-metal innovators BANG!, Boston heavy psych trio ELDER, Portland heavy rockers DANAVA, Dallas fuzz specialists WO FAT, Swedish megariffers MONOLORD and Portuguese acid jammers BLACK BOMBAIM.
Tickets for The Night of the Shred are $20 in advance ($30 day of show) and are on sale now at this location. The event is 21+ and costumes are highly encouraged!
What: The Night of the Shred featuring The Shrine, Windhand, Bang!, Elder, Danava, Wo Fat, Monolord and Black Bombaim Where: Brick by Brick, 1130 Buenos Ave, San Diego, CA Time: 3 PM – 2 AM Tickets:http://bit.ly/TheNightoftheShred_tix
— WEST COAST TOUR DATES — BANG! | BLACK BOMBAIM | GREAT ELECTRIC QUEST 10/27 – Fullerton, CA @ Slidebar 10/28 – Los Angeles, CA @ Viper Room 10/29 – San Francisco, CA @ Milk Bar 10/31 – San Diego, CA @ NIGHT OF THE SHRED
Posted in Whathaveyou on June 20th, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
Well, my summer is pretty much fucking made. When I first saw the tour dates last night for Earthless‘ upcoming East Coast stopover with Tee Pee Records labelmates The Shrine, I was all bummed out that it was either going to be drive down to New York or Philly to see them or pretty much fuck off. Then today along comes the news that not only will Earthless play Boston, but they’ll open for Sleep on Aug. 24 jamming out with J. Mascis and Heavy Blanket, as in doing a full-fledged version of the Earthless Meets Heavy Blanket righteousness from Roadburn 2012 that’s just been released as the In a Dutch Hazevinyl (review here). I could not be more stoked for this show if I tried.
Dates and whatnot follow, but for me the takeaway is “Holy shit fucking Earthless and Sleep on the same night,” so keep that in mind:
EARTHLESS and THE SHRINE to Team Up for August East Coast Live Dates
EARTHLESS and J Mascis’ HEAVY BLANKET to Combine, Open for SLEEP at Special Boston Show August 24!
Award-winning San Diego power rock band EARTHLESS has announced a string of August east coast live dates in support of its critically-championed new album, From the Ages. The space rock kings will be joined on the tour dates by California “Destroyers of Rock ‘N’ Roll” (and Tee Pee Records label mates) THE SHRINE. Confirmed performances include Washington, DC (Aug. 20), Philadelphia, PA (Aug. 21), NYC (Aug. 22) and Brooklyn, NY (Aug. 23).
In addition, EARTHLESS will join J Mascis’ HEAVY BLANKET for a special support slot with metal titans SLEEP in Boston on August 24. At the show, the respected musicians will look to re-create the much-talked-about magic they initially combined to create at the 2012 Roadburn Festival, a searing live performance that will now see release under the title EARTHLESS Meets HEAVY BLANKET In A Dutch Haze on July 8 via Outer Battery / Roadburn Records. In A Dutch Haze is available for pre-order purchase at this location.
EARTHLESS + THE SHRINE tour dates: August 20 Washington, DC Rock and Roll Hotel August 21 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts August 22 New York, NY Mercury Lounge August 23 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus August 24 Boston, MA House of Blues (* EARTHLESS Meets HEAVY BLANKET w/ SLEEP)
The long-awaited EARTHLESS east coast shows will be the band’s first since the release of From the Ages, which was named one of 2013’s best albums by Rolling Stone. Formed in 2001 by drummer Mario Rubalcaba, guitarist Isaiah Mitchell and bassist Mike Eginton, EARTHLESS creates energetic, utterly unique and free thinking instrumental music inspired by an eclectic mix of German krautrock and Japanese heavy blues rock. The trio has dedicated itself to the mastery of the mind-bending jam session, evoking the spirits of Jimi Hendrix and Black Sabbath in equal measure.
Undoubtedly one of America’s hottest underground bands, THE SHRINE plays loud, heavy rock ‘n’ roll that combines the hook-laden appeal of ’70’s garage rock and gritty ’80’s hardcore with a skate punk energy and attitude resulting in a sound the trio describes as “psychedelic violence”. Recorded on reel-to-reel tape using vintage gear and colossal Marshall stacks, the band’s new LP Bless Off is a record that attacks with buzzing riffs, blazing hooks and a bruising, mega-amplified punch.
Posted in audiObelisk on May 21st, 2014 by H.P. Taskmaster
I’m not gonna tell you to only listen to one of these sets, because frankly, there’s a lot of really awesome stuff in this first batch of audio streams from this year’s Roadburn festival, which took place the beginning of April in Tilburg, the Netherlands. What I am going to say instead is that if you’re lost for a place to start, definitely dig into the Lenny Kaye & Harsh Toke jam. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to see the name of the band without thinking of Kaye saying, “Harsh Toke makes good smoke,” but I haven’t been able to get them out of my head since, to the point that I went back and revisited their 2013 Tee Pee debut, Light up and Live, just to hear them jam out some more. Kind of a specialty appeal for a physical pressing, but I can’t imagine there was anyone in that room who didn’t leave that set wanting it pressed to vinyl or CD. I’d take either.
And in the meantime, the audio stream is doing well to suffice. “Harsh Toke makes good smoke,” as Kaye is handed a joint passed up from the crowd. Fucking awesome. Hopefully when they put that out, they call it Good Smoke: Live at Roadburn 2014. Got my fingers crossed on that one.
In the meantime, huge respect as always to Roadburn for preserving all these sets and the many that are sure to come for posterity. As with years past, these were helmed by Marcel Van De Vondervoort of Torture Garden Studios, whose new band, Fire Shrine, I’ve been digging. They’ve got an EP on Bandcamp if you get a second to check it out between all this madness.
Lenny Kaye & Harsh Toke – Live at Roadburn 2014
The Shrine – Live at Roadburn 2014
Ron van Herpen’s Jam Session: Louisiana Voodoo Centre – Live at Roadburn 2014
Mantar – Live at Roadburn 2014
11Paranoias – Live at Roadburn 2014
Papir – Live at Roadburn 2014 (Friday, April 11th)
The Great Old Ones – live at Roadburn 2014
Goatess – Live at Roadburn 2014
Thanks as always to Roadburn for letting me host the streams.
Posted in Whathaveyou on March 1st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
More news from Desertfest 2013 to round out the week. Fresh off their run in the US with Graveyard, Cali stoner-skaters The Shrine will be playing as part of Desertfest‘s London lineup, and traveling from Greece, heavy psych rockers 1000mods will make an appearance at the Berlin fest.
Here are the official announcements, culled from their respective websites (London, Berlin):
The Shrine to Shine at Desertfest
Smashing their way straight into Desertfest, L.A. young bloods The Shrine are set to bring their in-your-face and to-the-point brand of hardcore desert rock. Not many bands out their can claim to mix the tripped-out echoes of fuzz with the rough and ready aggressiveness of early punk, but the upcoming three piece of Josh Landau (guitar/vocals), Courtland Murphy (bass) and Jeff Murray (Drums) make it effortless.
Last year’s Tee Pee Records debut, the appropriately titled Primitive Blast, is a lightning paced wall of sound that blows off your ears. Traces of almost everyone, from Truckfighters, to Misfits, to MC5, are there to find within an all too short 35 minutes of raw, chugging stomp.
It’s no surprise to see that they’ve already notched up some impressive support slots with, among others, Kyuss Lives!, Graveyard and Desertfest headliners Pentagram. No doubt at Desertfest The Shrine will be some of the heaviest fuzz you’ll ever hear.
Desertfest Berlin – 1000MODS (GR)
Today, we are thrilled to welcome the first Greek band at DESERTFEST BERLIN : the striking 1000 MODS !!
1000 MODS is a 4-piece psychedelic/stoner rock band from Chiliomodi, Greece, formed in 2006. They play an impressive and highly addictive piece of downtuned, fuzzed up and hard hitting stoner rock, hone in a serious groove.
In the beginning of 2007, they released their first (self-financed) EP “Blank Reality”, and in December 2009 they stroke back with a brand new 7” EP titled “Liquid Sleep”, on the Greek label CTS Prods. In may 2010, they released a split tape with the German psy-doomsters Wight, and few months later, they recorded their full-length debut album “Super Van Vacation”, produced by the almighty Billy Anderson, and released by German label Kozmic Artifactz (vinyl) and CTS Prods (Digipack) in September 2011. Last December, the band released their latest EP “Valley of Sand” on Lab Records.
Since their beginning, they have played over 100 live shows, including openings for Brant Bjork, Colour Haze, Karma to Burn, My Sleepin Karma, Radio Moscow and many others. In October 2011, they toured in Europe playing 25 gigs in 12 countries, with an appearance as special guests at Up In Smoke 3, and in August 2012, they played at Aquamaria Festival.
This year, it’s time for them to play at DESERTFEST BERLIN ! “Super Van Vacation” vinyl re-issue is scheduled in April 2013 by CTS Prods, just in time for the festival, so get in the van, and come to Berlin !!
Posted in Reviews on January 25th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster
It was the second night of Graveyard and The Shrine‘s US tour and something of a victory lap for the Swedish forerunners of retro heavy, whose 2012 offering, Lights Out (review here), greatly expanded the soulful side of the band’s approach without — if the crowd assembled at Underground Arts in Philadelphia was anything to go by — alienating their fanbase or falling prey to accusations of going soft or betraying expectation. Lights Out is plenty raucous, as the Gothenburg foursome demonstrated once they took the stage, and the band showed why their reception has been so welcome over the last several years of crossover underground success. Because they rock, that’s why.
I arrived at Underground Arts absurdly early, parked outside and waited for the 9PM doors to open. I know people in Philly. I’m not a complete stranger in the town, and I say this not to tout social connections like I’m not some fucking misanthrope who spends his whole life in front of a keyboard, but just to point out that I had options I could’ve probably exercised instead of, say, sitting for 90 minutes and staring at my phone, obsessively lurking on the forum or reading hard-hitting speculation about the Yankees’ prospects this coming season. I could’ve called somebody and gotten out of my car. It could’ve happened. But on the other hand, it was like 10 degrees out. Cold leads to immobility.
I was downstairs — because here’s a shocker: Underground Arts is actually technically a basement venue despite being able to hold 1,000 people — before the doors opened and waited around with the other early-types, who were right to wonder why no one was being let in to drink even as the DJ had already begun to spin ’70s obscurities from heavy lore. As usual, the issue was dropped once they started letting everyone through and soon, soon enough, Venice Beach retro punkers The Shrine appeared to run smiling through a set of their heavied-up no-frills jams. They pretty clearly dig what they do, and I like to watch that, even if their sound is more suited to an empty pool in SoCal summertime than Philly in January.
The bulk of what they played I recognized from their 2012 Tee Pee debut, Primitive Blast (review here), and I’d seen the trio before opening for Honkyand Fu Manchu in NYC, so I had some vague idea of what to expect, but it’s always different seeing a band after you’ve heard the album, and where so much of my impression of The Shrine had been toward the skate-punk end — perhaps because that aesthetic factors so highly in their presentation; both guitarist/vocalist Josh Landau and drummer Jeff Murray wore shirts bearing the logo of Thrasher magazine — I guess I’d forgotten how thick their sound actually was. Landau shredded through his Marshall, true enough, but it was , bassist Courtland Murphy‘s Sunn providing the foundation on which the songs rested.
And as quick as I was to relate Primitive Blast to Black Flag — not inappropriately, in the case of some of the material — their sound live was actually much fuller and less raw than their grainy video for “Whistlings of Death” would lead one to assume. Album opener “Zipper Tripper” and closer “Deep River (Livin’ to Die)” were memorable highlights, though The Shrine moved quickly enough that they probably could’ve played everything off the record had they so desired (and if they didn’t). As I said above, it was the second night of the tour, so front to back there were aspects of the show’s operation that will probably be tighter in a couple more nights, but The Shrine‘s set delivered more than I could ask for and more than anything else gave me the impression that their real potential isn’t to capture the essence of early ’80s hardcore punk — all but impossible — but to grow into something new and individual based off that, similar to how Graveyard and a (very select) few others have been able to do with ’70s heavy rock. I look forward to seeing how it works out.
I’d chosen to hit Philly for the show instead of Manhattan of Brooklyn for two reasons: The crowd at Bowery Ballroom when Graveyard came through just over a year ago with Radio Moscow (review here) and fond memories of Underground Arts from seeing The Company Band there over the summer (review here). I won’t have been at either New York show to know for sure whether or not I made the right choice, but my inclination as Graveyard hit the stage at 11PM and blasted through 90 minutes of blues rocking supremacy was that the extra road time was justified.
Actually, maybe “blasted” isn’t the right word, because where after 2011’s Hisingen Blues(review here), they’d amassed a short catalog of mostly blistering classic rockers, the songs almost terminally upbeat and jagged in their Zeppelin crotchal thrust, Lights Out is simply a more diverse album atmospherically, with subdued, building numbers like “Slow Motion Countdown” and “Hard Times Lovin'” — both of which were played in Philly — to complement the rush of a song like “Seven Seven” or “Goliath.” Their 2008 self-titled had some of that moodier edge, and Hisingen Bluesdid as well on “Uncomfortably Numb,” which they also played, but its most resonant moments were the testimony of “Ain’t Fit to Live Here” or the title-track, drummer Axel Sjöberg challenging the rest of the band to keep up with him and guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson — and his throaty falsetto — rising to the occasion.
With the siren that launches the album as their intro, they opened with “An Industry of Murder” from Lights Out, and if nothing else, it was clear that everybody had heard the record. That would prove to be the case throughout the 15-song setlist (it was numbered), which covered all three of their albums. Wider distribution for the last two through Nuclear Blast, the momentum of touring and growing repute are doubtless the cause of that. I’ll freely admit to not getting on board with what they were doing until the second record, despite having heard the first, but either way, they made the most of it on stage. Guitarist Jonathan Ramm had several instances of blowing out his Orange head — Landau‘s Marshall was brought in as a replacement and sounded fine, but they tried again with the Orange and met with similar results further into the set — and that derailed the initial push of “An Industry of Murder” into “Hisingen Blues,” which, since it was followed by Lights Out‘s fastest track, “Seven Seven,” clearly wasn’t where they wanted the break to take place.
Still, these things can’t be helped sometimes. Nilsson, Sjöberg and bassist filling in for Rikard Edlund jammed out for a bit while Ramm and the stage crew tried to sort out his amp situation, and before long, “Seven Seven” revived the energy of the set and carried into the downshift of “Slow Motion Countdown.” I thought this was an especially bold inclusion, since so much of what makes that song such a high point of Lights Outis the Rhodes, mellotron and piano added to the guitars, bass and drums, but Graveyard made it work, and where Nilsson had seemed rushed in “Hisingen Blues,” the slower tempo allowed him to work his voice more, much to the song’s benefit. It made a solid lead-in for “Ain’t Fit to Live Here,” “Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt)” and “Uncomfortably Numb,” a trio from Hisingen Blues beginning with the opener that were each more welcomed than the last. They dipped back to the self-titled for “As the Years Pass by, the Hours Bend” and returned to Lights Outfor “The Suits, the Law and the Uniforms,” which was rough — though lent extra presence by the bassline — but still grooving and “Hard Times Lovin’,” which Nilsson introduced as, “the most beautiful love song you’ve ever heard.”
I stood directly in front, just about in the middle, and the press of the crowd behind me was such that I’d have a line of bruise across my thighs from being pushed into the stage. This was enough at several points to make me think maybe I should head into the back and watch the remainder of the set from a more comfortable vantage, but to Graveyard‘s credit, they kept me where I was the whole time. “Hard Times Lovin'” turned out to be a highlight of the night, followed by “Thin Line” and “Goliath” (yes, those leads killed) to close out the regular set. After a couple minutes and some fervent chanting from the crowd, the band reemerged from backstage and hit into Hisingen Blues closer, “The Siren.”
The place went off. I continued to get pushed forward with nowhere to go. So what did I do? Motherfucker, I leaned back, trustfall-style. Among the few benefits of being a gentleman of such ample proportion is the knowledge that, if I want to go backwards, I’m going. That eased the pressure some and all was fine till some beardo decided it was time to stagedive, jumped up from the side and took my head with him on his way to the floor. After being summarily punched by his body, he caught my sweatshirt — and considerably more painfully, my hair — with him and then all of a sudden I was crouched over, caught and moving one way without really any choice in the matter. “The Siren” seemed 20 minutes long. Eventually whatever part of that dude was attached to my already-thinning-and-not-at-all-needing-to-be-ripped-out hair was unattached and he went on his way. It was… not boring.
He wasn’t the last, but thankfully everyone else was either tiny or going the other way or both. “Endless Night” from Lights Out and “Evil Ways” from the self-titled followed as a closing duo, the latter with an excellent jam included, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if by the end of this tour Graveyard are closing with “The Siren.” That got the biggest response and seemed the most fitting, with the “Tonight a demon came into my head/And tried to choke me in my sleep” chorus igniting even more of a singalong than had the rest of their cuts.
Whatever they do or don’t do with the order though, it was a quality set, 90 solid minutes that wrapped at 12:30AM and sent me back into the cold night for a two-hour ride home that I made shorter the best way I know how — by speeding. I guess Graveyard will have that effect on you.
Posted in Whathaveyou on December 21st, 2012 by H.P. Taskmaster
A bit of news before we all split out for the weekend: I’ve signed on as an online promotional partner once again for the Desertfest Berlin! Basically that means that we’ll have a lot more news about both this one and Desertfest London as we get into the New Year and closer to that weekend itself — set for April 25-27. Wild times, and it seems like some bands are already slated to do one and then the other — looking at you, Unida and Lowrider — but the lineup looks awesome and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be associated again with Desertfest as the multinational brand continues to grow. If anyone wants to set up an East Coast franchise, let me know.
And here’s the latest lineup and ticket links for Desertfest Berlin. California-based retro punkers The Shrine have been added. Word also just came down the PR wire that The Shrine will be joining Graveyard on their upcoming US run, also not to be missed.