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Graveyard & Uncle Acid rocked Brooklyn Steel (review, videos)

An eclectic rock ‘n roll crowd descended upon East Williamsburg Thursday night, filling the cavernous Brooklyn Steel with a sea of swirly Sixties band logo t-shirts and the distinct aromas of incense and… something else. All had come to bear witness to some of the best modern conduits to a time before many of them had been born, a period in rock history both deified and (occasionally) vilified. The night’s co-headliners, ostensibly similar as they are, showcased two very different takes on the ’67-’73 hard rock aesthetic.

Opening act Demob Happy, whose profile in the States isn’t quite as high as a spot on this tour might suggest, set an upbeat precedent for the night. Their songs run the gamut of jangly radio-friendly fun to slightly sinister fuzzed-out jams. A trio in such a large venue is always at risk of sounding thin, especially in a half-full room, but the band had their sound dialed in tight and knew how to work the stage. The crowd was receptive, slowly filling the main room for the duration of the set, heads nodding and bodies swaying to the beat. It’s safe to say Demob Happy left New York with new fans. (And they’ll be back in New York for a headlining show on May 16 at Elsewhere Zone One.)

Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats took the first headliner spot on this night, and once again completely delivered. Honing their motif over the last decade, their live show has become more and more impressive to the point where it’s now almost cinematic in its presentation. Flashes of biker gangs, Satanic rituals and distant mountain ranges appear on the backdrop as Kevin Starrs and Co. rip through Uncle Acid’s oeuvres, pulling songs from each of their five full-lengths. Much of the set, including opener “I See Through You” and closing number “No Return,” came from the latest release Wasteland, which may be their most full realized album to date. Eternal crowd pleasers “Melody Lane,” “I’ll Cut You Down,” and “13 Candles” all made appearances, with Starr and rhythm guitarist/co-vocalist Vaughn Stokes harmonizing effortlessly in their distinct falsettos from start to finish. A lucky-13 song set closed out with Starr and Stokes remaining on stage, plucking a lovely nameless guitar instrumental until the feedback washed everything away.

Following an act like Uncle Acid is an unenviable position, but Sweden’s Graveyard have a mighty presence all their own. They’re the perfect complement to the other band, a photo negative; a Woodstock to Uncle Acid’s Altamont, if you will. Their bluesy, introspective compositions – paired with Joakim Nilsson’s soaring and distinctive croon – are a wonder to behold in person. There’s no flash, no gimmick, simply four stellar musicians on stage doing what they do best. Their set leaned heavily on 2011’s Hisingen Blues, and almost half the songs were pulled from last year’s Peace. American audiences are hearing these songs live for the first time, and tracks like “Walk On,” “The Fox,” and “Low (I Wouldn’t Mind)” – the first of three encore songs – slotted in naturally with the rest of their classics like “Uncomfortably Numb” and “Goliath.” The crowd was enraptured, three thousand eyes focused intently forward, breaking only to cheer each jam as it concluded, until the night ended on perennial favorite “The Siren.” The throng dispersed peacefully, happily, heads buzzing with riffs to last a lifetime.

Watch some videos from the show below…

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