The Bay Area metal community made their way out last night to San Francisco’s Bottom of the Hill. Even for a Wednesday night show there was a decent crowd who seemed very supportive of the three acts playing: Night Demon, Holy Grail and Asada Messiah.
It was about a year ago that I saw Night Demon in San Francisco. The band put on a stellar performance that night and seemed to take command of the momentum they were gaining from the release of their four song EP. Well, about a year later the band has an impressive debut full-length album out and have toured nonstop since the album’s release. This band is ambitious and one of the groups that I am willing to risk venturing into the wild piss smelling jungle of San Francisco.
Actually, I did not have to deal with too much of San Francisco’s insanity as Bottom of the Hill is located close to the freeway with a fair amount of street parking. Once inside the venue, I felt welcomed by the sounds of classic metal being played over the speakers by DJ Rob Metal. Some people that I was the concert’s DJ since my radio name is DJ Rob “the metal guy.” However, there is a difference in how we use the term “metal” after our names. Also, I do not look like an old hippie...yet.
Now the first band, Asada Messiah, was a local SF band and seemed to be in lively spirits as they took the stage. This group played a mix of traditional metal, thrash and even a bit of punk. Their lead singer/guitarist had a humorous personality and added a few good one liners in-between songs. The band’s sound was tight and the dual guitar attack definitely strengthened their sound. Also, the band would throw in some crushing riff sections to get the fans’ heads banging. I thought the lead guitar playing wasn’t too bad, but the riffs for this band seemed to standout the most.
Taking the stage second was Night Demon. Compared to the other two bands, Night Demon went above and beyond with their stage set-up. There was a sick background banner with, “The Curse of the Damned,” cover art. The band even started their set with some epic cinematic music and burst right into the song, “Screams in the Night.” Once they started tearing away I was literally taken back by the band’s energy. Plus, they had a well planned out lighting arrangement that added to the overall performance. Drummer Dusty Squires pounded his kit with precision while guitarist Brent Woodward played his guitar with confidence and great attention to detail. Bassist and frontman Jarvis Leatherby seemed to pour endless amounts of energy into each song and played his bass v-shaped bass with fierce aggression.
The songs from, “Curse of the Damned,” sounded brilliant live along with the tracks off of that first EP. The band even threw in a cover of Riot’s “Road Racin’,” which sound really damn good. Another cool part during their set was when their roadie and merchandise guy, Andrew Bansal, dressed up as the Night Demon mascot “Rocky” during the song, “The Chalice.” Night Demon finished with their self-titled anthem of classic metal rebellion and left the crowd roaring with applause and running to the band’s merch table.
After Night Demon moved their gear off stage, Holy Grail began setting up. I had not heard much from Holy Grail in a while, but they announced a new album in the works and that seemed to get the fans excited. They are definitely a solid live act and played the traditional metal style in the same vein as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, but with a tad more aggression. The band’s two guitar players amazed me with their technicality and dual guitar leads. Also, singer James Paul Luna knows how to handle a crowd by being a fierce high pitch screaming frontman. They seem to really wave that flag for metal and the fans were having a wild time during the band’s set. If this had been an all ages shows I would have definitely expected Holy Grail to get a mosh pit going.
Overall, the night was what this genre of music needs: passionate fans and hard working bands with plenty of blistering talent. I honestly believe after seeing Night Demon take their live show to a higher level, this time next year they will be headlining an even larger venue. Even the other two bands, Asada Messiah and of course Holy Grail, should be watched closely because they are no subpar acts by far and capture the classic metal spirit in their music. The passion and drive of heavy metal just will not die. I am really looking forward to the future of metal, especially what Night Demon has to offer.