The Shrine - Don't look for this trio from Venice Beach, California actually on the beaches of California, for these guys are the type that only come out at night. Their particular shrine is one that only works in nightclubs and bars--one that pays homage to rock music in the days it was called hard rock. They have all the spirit and power you would want with this style and knock off the songs quickly in their 25 minute set. They bring the music forward with traces of early Corrosion of Conformity and Valiant Thorr, but the old sounds of the heavier, bar-room blues brand of 1970s hard rock is the core. In other words, a perfect opening band choice for Graveyard. The crowd is warmed.
Graveyard - These four guys from Sweden knocked my socks off (along with pretty much everyone else in attendance) at a sold-out DC9 show just last year (I deemed it third best of my 200+ shows last year). Thankfully, the word of mouth and press coverage has helped a whole lot of people find the brilliance of Graveyard's music, as the Black Cat is nearly full tonight. Whether it is any of their three records or their live show, there are few heavy bands that can pull in as many classic rock fans along with modern rockers and metalheads and thoughtful music fans who enjoy it heavy. The vocal work is Leslie West powerful with the guitars roaring and the rhythm section adding that rare swing element that has gone missing in many modern rock bands. The drummer has the chops to work around the beat in addition to pummeling away when the mood hits. This gives room for undulating bass lines, while the two guitars weave in and around it all in mesmerizing patterns... all while seemingly playing simple bluesy rock songs. If any hard rock band could charm the cobra out of the wicker basket, it is Graveyard. They covered plenty of favorites from all three albums in the 75 minutes they played tonight. They even loosened up a few of them to play around with the dynamics in subtle ways (unlike some of their ham-fisted 70s counterparts). The crowd dug them and I do not believe the exponential word of mouth growth is anywhere near finished. I hope not, because these guys deserve the crowds, as they put on a show tonight that will be hard to keep off this year's 'Top Ten' list.
Quote of the Night: From the opener... "It's fuckin' awesome to be here--we're freezin' our California balls off!"