I wore my favorite Misfits hat to the 1990 Too Dark Park concert at Central Park Ballroom in Milwaukee. No one goes to a Skinny Puppy/Babes in Toyland show expecting things to be sedate but the frenzy of the crowd on that particular night was a surprise and as a result of the melee I lost my favorite Misfits hat to the swirling storm of unwashed punks and rivitheads. I mourned it for days. I was 19.
I mention this now, 20-plus years later, because the exact thing happened to me at the Graveyard show at the Fine Line Café in Minneapolis on Friday, April 25. There was one key difference: I was up there in the front getting some shots of Bombus and off went my hat back into the mass of spasming headbangers. I took my shot and looked around for the hat. A bearded fellow with a lot of black on held my hat out for me to retrieve. I smiled and went back to work, but I felt like some epic Dharma circle had just revolved around me and my hat of choice.
I’m not going to make any assumptions about metalheads circa 2014 vs indie punks circa 1990, but it was pretty awesome how cooperative everyone at this tightly filled metal show was. Usually you get one or two clowns who think it’s really funny to get in all of your shots, not at this Graveyard show. People got out of my way so I could shoot. What world was I visiting?
Graveyard is a “metal” band, but it’s a branch of the knotted metal tree that runs closer to the roots of Black Sabbath and other purveyors of dirge thunder. They brought a good mix of riffs and styles to the show; intense thunder, creepy drifting guitar trips, howling and restrained vocals all rendered with art and maturity that many would not expect when they hear the words “Swedish” and “metal” used to describe an act. They lacked the energy of the more mainstream metal sound, but replaced it with a something that presents the epic rather than just mimicking it. I should mention this is not the metal Graveyard from Spain, nor is this the metal Graveyard from Germany, nor is it the rap Graveyard from somewhere in the United States. This is the one from Sweden.
Kadavar was equally accomplished, but they brought a high-energy stage act that brought as much physical action as aural energy. They weren’t jumping all over the stage, but there was seldom a note that wasn’t matched by someone on stage rocking out. Some friends in the crowd told me this show was a rare chance to see Kadavar and Graveyard back-to-back and as a result there was a kind of competition among the two bands for the night. I believe it. Kadavar was solid and delivered enough intricate grooves and rolling thunder to make me feel like I was tripping through the history of the one true metal.
As I mentioned, Bombus really got the crowd reeling, and they were the closest to what the majority of contemporary metal sounds like. There was the bullet riffs and drumming, screeching howling and plenty of lyrics about hell, infernos and the dark ones. These guys looked the part too, the dark ones could almost be seen manipulating every muscle of their arms and hands to bash out the infernal symphonies. Bombus put on a great show that hit all the marks for a solid a metal act, but they seemed a little sophomoric next to the mastery and maturity of Kadavar and Graveyard.
Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative.