I’ve done a bad job of keeping up with concert reviews as of late, but I wanted to definitely post a bit about the one I attended this past weekend in order to get everything back on track. I wanted to first mention that I saw this in Lawrence, Kansas at a theater called The Granada, and for small shows around this area there is literally no better venue. I’ve been to my fair share of shows at tiny bars where it’s 300 degrees and you leave the show completely deaf because you are basically laying on the monitors and there are 5 sets of back-filled gear resulting on each band having a postage stamp sized spot to stand on.
The Granada has none of this, the sound is solid, there’s plenty of room for the bands, and I’ve never left with serious issues do to my ears wanting to die nor do I usually have to wear earplugs and I’ve seen some LOUUUUD stuff there. I jumped at the chance to see this show since I am a big fan of Deafheaven, but the rest of the show was a mystery to me. This was largely due to the fact that I was unfamiliar with the supporting acts, I knew they are from three very different genres, and I wasn’t sure what sort of crowd would be in attendance. What I will say in short is that weird shows like this are awesome, and I hope to see more like this.
Uniform, a New York Based band that mixes trappings from industrial and hardcore into a relentless sonic attack, were first up. The band recently gained a bit of notoriety for having two tracks included into an episode of the re-launched Twin Peaks show on Showtime, hot off of this, they have a new album coming out and I will likely be getting it after this show. While I’m not usually a big fan of 80’s hardcore, somehow mixing the vocal trappings of that with industrial somehow helps make that style of music, which can sometimes be very harsh, even harsher, bleaker, and more relentless. Michael Berdan’s vocals hit like some sort of angry slam poetry, ranting about the ills of society, touching on inequality, the media and even religion. If any of that seems up your alley, I’d recommend checking them out (posting a video below) and if you get to see them, Berdan is a really nice dude and took time out to talk to fans at the merch table.
Next up was a Goth / Darkwave band called Drab Majesty – I absolutely love this type of music but have never really had a chance to see any of it live since it’s relatively underground, and cool concerts always happen on days of the week where I have to work. Donned in all white with make-up and large sunglasses on, this California-based two piece is a deliberate throwback to the 80’s both in sound and look. The band seemed to have a huge following at the show which is easily to understand considering that they ooze a mysterious vibe that I can only assume gets them legions of female fans that enjoy dark mysterious alien dudes.
The highlight of their set is a song where the lead singer, Deb Demure, strapped a bright light to his chest and performed basically blinding whomever he was directly facing. While this sounds annoying, it was actually a cool effect with the fog machines going, and made them seem even more mysterious than they already are. Perhaps the one way that I knew this band had something special was that one of my good friends, that normally only likes metal, actually enjoyed the set quite a bit due to it’s quirky nature and being something different.
Once again, here is an example of the band’s music.
When I got “back into music” a handful of years ago, I mostly got really into going over to Bandcamp’s “atmospheric Black Metal” subgenre section and simply scouring over endless pages of crazy bands that I haven’t heard of. Many bands from this period have become some of my favorite current bands – groups like Ghost Bath, Panopticon, Drudkh, Wolves in the Throne Room, and Deafheaven are always on my rotation. I’m drawn to many of these bands because they are usually a lot more melodic than standard black metal (which I also like) and are more willing to experiment much to the derision of gatekeepers of the metal scene.
Deafheaven, in particular, seem to always get jabbed at by metal elitests since “they aren’t metal enough”. After this concert I will say that those guys are all buffoons. I have seen a lot of shows, and I have literally never seen a crowd mosh as hard as what happened during Deafheaven. It was a weird thing since the band is known for long-form songs with trippy interludes that absolutely glow with optimism and possibly weariness. Suddenly this would break and all hell would break lose – people were doing windmills, ninja kicks, the whole gamut.
I was also VERY impressed with the stage presence of George Clarke, the band’s lead singer. In the music videos, even the one I will post below, you don’t see much of the band performing – some of the newer ones show the guys recording an album and driving classic cars around. But, good lord does this guy have it. Jumping around like some sort of black metal Mick Jagger, Clarke was absolutely crazy to watch. Much like when I was able to see Wolves in the Throne Room earlier this year, I was blown away by these guys.
Here’s a video