Carcass, Crowbar, Ghoul & Night Demon on tour, played the Roxy in LA
The stacked “One Foot in the Grave Tour,” which was constituted of Carcass, Crowbar, Ghoul and Night Demon, laid waste to the legendary Roxy on Sunday night (July 24) in Los Angeles.
This was an unusually great bill, both based on the strength of the performing bands (it’s hard to find many headliners better than Crowbar, let alone openers) and on the variety of performance styles on display. First up was Night Demon, who took the stage early (7 PM), and those who showed up on time were treated to an insanely fun set. They were the only locals on the bill (they’re from Ventura), and they only have one LP to their name, but they seem beamed straight from London circa 1983. They bring big energy, clarity and tightness (both of playing and of leather) that highlights their knack for catchy NWOBHM-style hijinks. And the dual flying-Vs don’t hurt. It was an auspicious opening.
Next up was Ghoul. The high-concept thrashers have a new album called Dungeon Bastards out imminently, and for those who are unfamiliar, their live show is a kind of GWAR-like hybrid theater/performance art/comedy installation as much as a metal show. They wear their masks and speak in exaggerated faux-eastern European “Creepsylvanian” accents and are flanked at all times during the set by costumed characters who spray water into the crowd and pantomime some kind of story that they have crafted in advance (they were joined by some army dudes, a fat Bernie Sanders parody who eventually put on some kind of giant robot suit and…yeah I’m not gonna be able to describe all of it). The crowd, which had filled out by this point, absolutely ate it up–some of them were in masks of their own, and the chants of “Ghoul! Ghoul! Ghoul!” were the loudest of the night. They put on an undeniably fun show, an explicitly vaudevillian take on thrash that delivers the very fun songs (not to mention the political overtones) with tongue firmly in cheek.
Crowbar showed up next and immediately took things in a more starkly serious direction. After the gimmicky Ghoul set, it was a nice contrast to get a band that couldn’t give a fuck about those kind of frills. These guys are seasoned professionals, and they deliver their sad-edged brand of NOLA sludge with a scowl and the utmost tightness. Frontman Kirk Windstein is a distinctive and imposing presence both visually and musically, and the set (which celebrated the 20th anniversary of their classic Broken Glass) was flat-out heavy and powerful as all hell. Symmetry in Black track “Walk With Knowledge Wisely” was a particular highlight, as was “Like Broken Glass.” Again, these guys are easy headliners on most nights, so it would have to take some truly legendary stuff to top them.
And luckily, that’s exactly what Carcass deliver. I’m biased, because they’re maybe my favorite death metal band of all time (I suppose it depends on the day, but they’re certainly top three), but I just can’t imagine live metal getting too much better than these guys. The tightness (without any of that death metal roboticism; groove is king), the mind-link musical synergy of Jeff Walker and Bill Steer, the absolutely insane drumming of Daniel Wilding, and, mainly, the effing songs. They flattened the place. Jeff Walker has a well-deserved reputation as one of the funniest and best frontmen in metal, and he didn’t disappoint this time, with particular high-points being when he told the crowd at the Roxy (famed 80s hair-metal haunt) that they were “behaving like a bunch of Cinderella fans,” and when he threw a Sabaton DVD (after trashing Sabaton vividly) into the crowd and demanding that he get the pieces back on stage.
They played a set heavy on bangers, opening with the ripping “Unfit for Human Consumption” into the Heartwork opener “Buried Dreams.” There was a great balance of material here (it’s a special band that can go from “Keep on Rotting in the Free World” into “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” without missing a beat). They were funny, fun, incredibly heavy, they played all the hits–it was a star headlining set from one of the best bands in the business, and a great cap to a great night of varied heavy metal.
Check out some instagrams from the LA show below.