A Tuesday night in San Francisco may seem like a tough night for people to get out and attend a concert, however, when you have Anvil playing along with Night Demon, Unleash the Archers and Graveshadow, it does not matter what day of the week it is. Last night’s concert at the DNA Lounge proved that heavy metal fans have passion and will show up ready to bang their heads and drink some beer.
After waging a great battle through the streets of San Francisco just to find parking, I made my way to the DNA Lounge. It would be my first time attending a show at the venue, and I must say I liked how the place was set up. The stage is raised a bit higher than most venues, but no matter where you go in the venue, I feel like you get a decent view of the stage. I was surprised to see a fair amount of metal fans already inside, which means there was a solid crowd for the first opener. Besides Night Demon who I have seen three times before, this would be my first time seeing the other three bands. Also, Anvil being such an iconic group that influenced bands like Metallica, I knew there would be those die hard metal heads who have the jackets with endless patches and remember when Lars still had hair. Actually, you had a mix of old school metal heads and the younger metal fans which was due in part to the DNA Lounge’s awesome all ages policy.
Starting off the night of epic fist raising metal was the symphonic metal band, Graveshadow. I became quite interested in how they would sound once I saw that they had a keyboard player. Most of your symphonic metal bands come from Europe, but Graveshadow was from Sacramento, CA. It sounded like they had a decent following come out to support them since Sacramento is not far from SF. Right away the band hammered out a bombastic sounding riff followed up by some cinematic keyboard arrangements. Graveshadow’s singer was able to switch from clean vocals to growl vocals, while matching the instrumental tones. She seemed very comfortable on stage along with the other band members. However, I found their set to be filled with repetitive song structures and the lead guitar playing needed a boost. Again, they seemed to be having a great time on stage and their keyboard player was really banging her head while she played the keys. Not my cup of tea musically, but I respect the passion and their onstage presence.
Taking the stage next was Vancouver’s Unleash the Archers. This band of epic metal musicians from the North has been on my radar for some time now, and I have always wanted to hear how they sound live. Their recordings and music videos are rather impressive, especially the Mad Max themed one. When they firs took the stage I was slightly confused as to why they only had two guitar players and no bass player. Even without a bass player, Unleash the Archers found ways to put on an enjoyable set. Singer Brittney Slayes has a phenomenal voice and her vocal range is amazing. She can really hit those high notes like on the band’s albums which is not easy to do live. The twin guitar attack of Grant Truesdell and Andrew Kingsley was working overtime by trading off leads and ripping through epic melodic riffs. Drummer Scott Buchanan held down the rhythm section and contributed to the group’s tight sound. Finishing with the song, “General of the Dark Army,” the band kept the energy flowing until the very last note. The crowd was really engaged during their entire set and I was not surprised when the fans chanted for them to play one more song.
|Unleash the Archers|
Well, Unleash the Archers did not play another song, probably due to the fact that the openers needed to adhere to a strict time limit. Getting ready to go on next was Ventura, CA’s Night Demon. Waving the flag for traditional style heavy metal and relentlessly touring since they released their debut album, Night Demon once again delivered a smashing set. Opening with the song “Ritual” from their first EP, Night Demon destroyed in top notch heavy metal form. Bassist and singer Jarvis Leatherby rocked the mic and feverishly struck the strings on his flying v bass. Guitarist Armand John Anthony who joined the band in late March has solidified his role as the band’s guitarist. Watching him play the riffs in, “Mastermind” and “The Chalice,” was simply amazing. Drummer Dusty Squires of course did a solid job behind the kit by pounding out thunderous rhythms with precision. The band played three covers with my favorite being their version of Golden Earning’s, “Radar Love.” I felt like I would have preferred more songs from their debut album, “Curse of the Damned,” but I understand that the band might have wanted to change up the set list. Still, their entire performance was on another level and I feel each time I see them they find ways to get more metal fans rocking out to their crushing style of classic metal.
After Night Demon ended their set with their always enjoyable self-titled song, Anvil was getting ready to begin their highly anticipated set. This band has really been touring the United States more since that documentary came out and I was looking forward to finally being able to see them. When the band came out it was just drummer Robb Reiner and their new bassist Chris Robertson. I was looking around thinking, where is guitarist Steven "Lips" Kudlow?! Then I looked in the middle of the crowd and saw a crazy brown haired dude holding a red flying v guitar, and realized he was in the crowd! Talk about being up close to personal with the audience. You don’t see Axl Rose and Gene "Money Bag" Simmons doing that.
The guys in Anvil may look old, but when on stage they reminded me of young hyper kids having great fun playing their instruments. Some songs that I thought sounded good were, “Badass Rock 'n' Roll” and “Die For a Lie.” Also, the classic song, “Mothra,” gave each member a chance to show off their talents. Honestly, Rob Reiner’s drummer solo kind of took all the spot light and was the high moment of Anvil’s set. He is a master behind that kit and I respect the traditional grip he uses. Lips of course made me laugh a lot by having great stage comments along with using a dildo during his guitar solo. Towards the end of their set the band played the one song that most fans were waiting for which was, “Metal on Metal.” Then for their encore they played a cover of, “Born to Be Wild.” The cover was okay and I think they should have just ended with, “Metal on Metal.” Compared to what I thought going in, Anvil still knows how to rock and roll.
After all that metal music from each of the four bands, my ears are still ringing and I am still laughing about the dildo guitar solo. I think the all ages venue definitely allowed for a diverse and passionate audience. Even though I thought Night Demon should have been able to play a couple more songs (I’m biased), it was an enjoyable concert all around and I am glad I went. Whether it be old heavy metal music or new heavy metal music, the fans and bands keep the spirit alive by showing up and banging their heads.