Live Review: Graveyard, Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies in Manhattan, 01.12.12

Pompous as it sounds, I consider myself pretty affected by the atmosphere in whatever given space I’m occupying, and last night the Bowery Ballroom was all douche. There were hipster douches, douchey douches, ladydouches — an entire Baskin Robbins 30-howevermany flavors of douche served as dessert for a sold-out beardo flannel fashion show, and though the place wasn’t full when former Year Long Disaster frontman Daniel Davies took the stage opening for Radio Moscow and Graveyard, it wasn’t long before the whole room was springtime fresh and I was fucking miserable.

Davies earned his stoner rock cred through a multi-album collaboration on vocals with Karma to Burn that, like most things that band touches, seems to have fallen apart. Sorry, and nothing against them, but Karma to Burn has the shittiest luck I’ve ever seen. Anyway, Davies reportedly got Brad Davis from Fu Manchu to play on his new solo record, Hidden Faces, and though I’d hoped Mr. Davis would join him on stage as well, no dice. Instead, it was Davies (who is the son of Dave Davies of The Kinks) joined by drummer Jess Margera and bassist Matt Janaitis, both of CKY. Small world sometimes, and it only occasionally makes sense.

The music was heavily indebted to ’90s-style alt rock, and not bad for what it was — Davies is a more than capable songwriter — but without even the vague notions of heaviness that Year Long Disaster hinted at in their chic way or the involvement of Davis‘ unfuckwithable tone, my attentions wandered elsewhere, and mostly in the direction of beer. I bided my time waiting for Radio Moscow to hit the stage and watched as the room gradually got fuller and fuller of people I was embarrassed to have anything in common with, especially music.

It’s been a hell of a week for Parker Griggs. The Iowan guitarist/vocalist of Radio Moscow was going to replace his rhythm section after this tour anyway, but on the seventh, he took part in an ugly on-stage meltdown that turned violent with drummer Cory Berry, who, after Griggs threw his guitar into his drum set, launched it back at Griggs‘ head, splitting it open and requiring a reported 14 stitches. The resulting video was a big hit Monday and Tuesday. I got two separate press releases about it, and though it doesn’t really make either Griggs or Berry look like they’re in the right, that’s rock and roll, so whatever.

But backed by new bassist Billy Ellsworth and new drummer Lonnie Blanton, neither of whom threw anything nor had anything thrown at them, the stitched up Griggs sounded dead on as he tore through a set of swampy whiteboy blues. I’d never seen Radio Moscow before, but they’ve been one of those names that there’s been no avoiding for a couple years now, and they served as a decent lead-in for Graveyard, with a clear affection for and (to an extent) emulation of ’70s rock. Listening to them jam out on material from their latest offering, The Great Escape of Leslie Magnafuzz, you’d never know they’d only been a band for five days.

The Bowery Ballroom was full by the time they finished. I stood in the back by the door for most of their set and would remain there for the duration, on either side of the open doorway to watch Graveyard (once I was done taking pictures), who, in the interest of understatement, I’ll say were well received. They started out subdued with “Blue Soul” from the self-titled, but the momentum soon picked up with “Buying Truth (Tack och Förlåt)” from last year’s excellent Hisingen Blues, with which the crowd seemed more familiar and more ready to groove on.

Whatever you can say about their fanbase (and given the paragraphs I cut out of the beginning of this review, I could say plenty), Graveyard were killer. Guitarist/vocalist Joakim Nilsson seems to still be in the process of coming into his own as a frontman, but the band was charismatic and the songs sounded excellent. Rawer than on record, particularly the Hisingen Blues material, but “Ungrateful are the Dead” might have been the high point of the night. I know it was for me, and although for many bands, there’s no way in hell I’d have put up with staying in a place that packed, Graveyard kept me there the whole time. I even tried to leave once and couldn’t bring myself to do it.

And I’m not interested in holding being popular against them — hell, that’s how a band like Graveyard gets to afford to come do a North American stint in the first place — but god damn. This tour’s in Philly tomorrow (Saturday, 01/14), and I just know that the demographic down that way would be totally different if I decided to get in my car and truck it south. I’d probably hit less traffic too. Rest assured, lesson not learned.

They finished after midnight, which was a surprise given Manhattan‘s curfewed norms, and sent the crowd out into the cold. By the time I got back to meiner bescheidenen flußtal, the rain that had been falling for the better part of the last 48 hours was thinking about turning to snow. I took out the garbage, ate some leftovers and crashed out with “Ain’t Fit to Live Here” stuck in my head, where it remains still.

Extra pics after the jump.

Dan Davies

Radio Moscow


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12 Responses to “Live Review: Graveyard, Radio Moscow and Daniel Davies in Manhattan, 01.12.12”

  1. Don’t worry , bro. Soon enough, you won’t have to suffer through a night of rubbing hip bones with hipster sheep flocks just to see Graveyard. Hopefully if there’s any justice left , they will be playing theatre sized places.
    I’m dreading a similar situation at the upcoming ORCHID gig. Hope i’m wrong.

  2. goAt says:

    I’m still trying to figure out why this band is so beloved while Wolfmother gets the “stinky feet face” treatment.

    Only difference to me is radio play.

    I avoided the Cambridge, MA show (HOLY HIPSTERVILLE BATMAN!) for all the reasons you described.

  3. chuck says:

    Wolfmother were just too early.

  4. Jon says:

    dang. i was really pulling for Lost in Confusion. I can’t wait either way. Nice pictures.

  5. Pete says:

    Philly has had a LOT of love for Graveyard since they completely stole the show opening for Witchcraft a few years back. The douche presence was definitely felt Saturday Night, especially the 1/5 of the crowd who all had to have conversations during the quieter parts of Uncomfortably Numb.

    I don’t mind when I like a band and their fanbase grows. I actually like it, because it means they’re making money, and are more likely to tour. I do mind when people go to shows just to be seen at the show at which it’s cool to be seen this month, not to actually watch the band playing, and to talk throughout the whole show as if there was no band playing. It’s rude and annoying.

  6. Lindsey says:

    Who the fuck cares whos there go for the band you freaks

  7. goAt says:

    It’s the vibes, Lindsey. If you’re in a room full of people who treat music like it’s fashion, you feel it, and it’s a bummer.

  8. aj says:

    Wish i could see graveyard and radio moscow! Unfortunately i cant but if i could i would….even if i got to be in a room full of the douchebags. I wont let them fuck up my enjoyment of my favorite rock bands, fuck that! I’ll enjoy them as much as possible:)

    @goat why graveyard (which i assume is the beloved band u are referring to) gets more love? only people in general who praise them can answer that.

    IMO, speaking for myself on why i think graveyard is far more better band:

    Joakim can sing & howl so naturally and with enough raw emotion that i want to sing along with him outloud each song.

    Andrew’s voice is scratchy, annoying and his singing feels put on.
    His singing is worse than jack white’s. Plus he’s a horrible lyricist in comparison to joakim (see the lyrics of woman or apple tree and then compare them to thin line or the siren)

    The guitar playing by joakim & especially jonathan is great in every way possible: licks, riffs and nice guitar solos

    Wolfmother’s guitar playing by andrew is boring, too predictable, too repetitive and has barely any solos whatsoever

    And do i need to explain why graveyard’s rhythm sections & production shits on wolfmother’s?

    Didnt think so.

    For me personally, thats why i love & enjoy graveyard and not really wolfmother so it has nothing to do with 1 being more commerical than the other, i would still feel that way even if WM was still obscure.

  9. aj says:

    Btw, parker better not get into it with his new bandmates given how much bigger they are than him. We seen what cory did to him being damn-near the same size & heigh as parker…imagine if lonnie and billy got up and went at parker with a instrument.

  10. dirty dixon says:

    I saw graveyard in MD. They were really good. I was impressed with the quality of their performance. I had been looking forward to them hitting the states. Their drummer is awesome.

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