With styles that represented each act’s choice highlights in rock history, their approaches fit back to back while being distinguishable in their own right.
The night’s opener, The Shrine, were undaunted by their place as first to perform. Smashing together influences like Black Flag and Iron Maiden, the intensity was inevitable. The Shrine energized the crowd with textbook '70s fuzz and six-string shredding on top of fast, pounding drums. As guitarist and vocalist Josh Landau hollered barbed lyrics in groveled tones, the band enjoyed a receptive and crowded floor, a factor that can be elusive that early in the night. After the first act, the show was already barreling toward a night to remember. Those in attendance who veer away from the hardcore end of the rock spectrum had to wait for the drifting, creepy melodies of the next act to slink up to the stage.
The Growlers exude a distinctive, but no less grizzly, take on rock history. The music pulses a hypnotizing blend of guitar reverb and plunking surf bass lines. Their sound isn’t easily placed in terms of genre, but it’s not hard to imagine it being the perfect soundtrack for a party for recently deceased surf bums. The Growlers’ singer Brooks Nielson leads the stoner bunch of musicians through spacious garage rock that’s as stripped down as it is intriguing. In person, the five-piece outfit’s sonic melding makes for an enveloping sound that fills every inch of the room. Regardless of where in the group’s discography the set list ventured, its live portrayal of a song is a lush elaboration on the studio-created appetizer. The Growler’s performance was a substantial platform, onto which the headliner would stand and deliver.
Gothenburg, Sweden’s Graveyard is a nerve-tapping ode to some of heavy metal’s earliest rumblings, namely Sabbath. They wield a thundering sound that rolls through the room like a well-oiled machine. Every member is strident, with masterful musicianship and the bravado requisite for their exuberance. The set is packed with speed and aggression yet retains a youthful quality. The group give off the impression that they couldn’t be happier than to be playing the show, especially evident in drummer Axel Sjoberg’s smiling punishment of his drum skins. In front of the stage, the fevered energy gives way to volatile pushing and shoving but never yields any casualties. As captivating as they are on the full-throttle numbers, Graveyard have a surprising sensibility for drawing the audience in on more intimate ballads, as well. Whether the set veered through tunes with breakneck intensity or exhibited composed restraint, Graveyard’s performance was excellent. It isn’t a stretch to imagine that the globetrotting band will continue their conquest in the years to come.