It was a cold night in Deroit. It was a Monday night in Detroit. These two things combined made the neighborhood around the Shelter feel like a ghost town, and the inside of the Shelter only a little less so. It was a little disheartening. When we wandered into the shelter, there were only 20 or 30 people on the house. I'd hoped that more people would have turned out to witness this powerful band from Venus who has graced our planet with their rock and roll message, but it wasn't going to be in the stars.
Casket Gasket = "Grittabilly
The night opened with a solid set by local guys Casket Gasket. Their set was a tight solid blend of buzzsaw guitars, old-school hardcore and some straight up rockabilly. I'll go on the record now and dub this new genre "grittabilly." When that starts to catch on in the music rags, remember, I said it first.
Casket Gasket frontman struts the stage like he owns it, and commands the mic like a rockabilly Rollins. And this band is tight, too; their set was short, raw and solid, and the guys from Valient Thorr were out in the crowd acknowledging this. When Casket Gasket hits the road, be sure to check them out.
Like Manson, But Nicer
It's tough to describe Valient Thorr's appearance. They are intimidating, to be sure. Lanky and hairy, these guys sport more beard than the last 20 bands I've seen; kind of like a Southern-fried Manson family. While they may hail from Venus, it was definitely by way of a basement in the South.
And yet, despite the intimidating appearance, they exude charisma. I met Valient Himself before the show, and he is a genuinely friendly guy. Again, like Manson perhaps, but with a more positive message. A message of rock, with a bit of politics thrown in.
By the time they took the stage, the crowd had only grown to about 40 people, but the band treated us like it was a sold-out stadium. Himself simply called for everyone to come close to the stage, and he tore into the first song.
"Do you know what I'm talking about!"
They'd rocked for thousands at Warped Tour, but they treated the crowd that night like it was their biggest show ever. Himself was like a Southern-fried heavy metal preacher, getting in the face of the crowd, dancing like a madman, stripping out of his jacket and shirt, all the time shooting positive energy at his fans, punctuating each of his rants and preachings with a solidly yelled "Do you know what I'm talking about!"
He dragged a stool into the middle of the crowd, and stood on it to sing. He urged the crowd to air guitar along with the solos. He shared beer with the people in the front. And he preached. Against war. In favor of rock. About the insidious way Reagan infiltrated popular culture by writing Star Wars and most of The Matrix. Again, emphasizing each point with the forceful "Do you know what I'm talking about!"
And the band brought the rock. There are hardly any Earth-born musicians with this much passion. They hammered through much of Legend Of The World (highlights being "Fall Of Pangea" and a "Heatseaker", which they hauled out "because it's so f***ing cold outside"). The air was thick with their energy and the solid slabs of rock they were throwing out.
A Command For The Thorriers
Just before the encore, Valient Himself announced that they would be touring with Gogol Bordello, and announced that he wanted the "stone-cold Thorriers" in Detroit to build a float for the show. I'm looking forward to that; two of the best live shows I've ever seen on one stage, and the possibility of a parade. If any frontman can instill in his fans the desire to build a float in tribute, it's Valient Himself. Not only was it nice to see these guys treat a small crowd so well, it's nice to see someone with the charisma of a cult leader or politician apply that ability to the noble profession of rock god.