Skeletonwitch exploded on the Turf Club Friday night as part of their recent tour promoting their latest album “Devouring Radiant Light”. The venue was packed and the audience was ready to party hard on the sultry end of May evening.
I thought I left for the Turf Club with plenty of time Friday night, only to find road construction and closed roads on my route to the show. Arriving on the scene with only a few minutes to spare, I wasn’t able to find a place to park. Finally parking a few blocks away, I gathered up my photo equipment and hurried myself to the Turf Club. By the time I got to check in, Wiegedood had already started and the bar was packed. I pushed my way to the front and was able to get a fairly good view of the stage, but soon discovered I was on the corner of the mosh pit. I got rocked around a bit, but didn’t sustain any internal damage.
Wiegedood is a three piece, Black metal band from Ghent, East Flanders in Belgium. “Wiegedood” literally translates to”death in the cradle” – it is a Dutch term for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The band is comprised of two guitarists and a drummer. The stage was dark with little lighting and the band stood in place, with little or no movement and no talking in between songs. Their set was relentless and harsh. The moshers and crowd loved the performance and finally settled down after the band left the stage.
As Soft Kill was setting up, the crowd thinned a bit to get drinks and hit the restrooms, so I pushed my way to the front of the stage. Soft Kill is a four piece, post punk band from Portland. They used bright back lighting with two fog machines and little front lighting. The bass player spent the entire set with his back to the crowd, although it was hard to see any faces with the dense fog and little front lighting. Soft Kill’s performance was a stark contrast to the previous (and next) band’s performance. The heavy metal crowd seemed to move to the back of the bar and a new set of people moved forward. The people around me danced, sang along and shouted for songs to be played. Their set was definitely softer, but very melodic and enjoyable. They definitely made at least one new fan Friday night – I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. After their final song, they abruptly left the stage as a few encore shouts were heard from the crowd. But they weren’t coming back tonight.
The people in front of the stage changed again, with a wave of black shirted Skeletonwitch fans taking over the area. A circle was created for the moshers with several large members of the audience lining the outside of the circle. As band members took the stage (minus lead singer Adam Clemans), the audience erupted and the band began to play. Then Clemans came on stage in a leather jacket, with leather gloves, hair soaked and the crowd went into a frenzy. Clemans patrolled the stage, frequently leaning over it and sneering at the audience. Several attempts were made by audience members to get on the stage, but they came up short. There were too many bodies pushing forward to get enough momentum to get on the stage. Standing at the front of the stage, I was getting pummeled by moshers and people trying to get on stage. Trying to shoot the show while protecting my camera equipment was becoming a problem. Finally a guy got on stage when a bunch of people lifted him up over their heads and threw him on the stage. He seemed a bit dazed at first, but then got up, danced around on the stage for a second and dived back into the audience. He body surfed for a while and I was hit by arms and legs of the surfer and the people holding him up. A few more attempts were made to throw people on the stage, but they came up short, knocking throwers and throwee to the floor.
Skeletonwitch was very entertaining with lead singer Clemans stalking the stage and the other band members high energy performance. The audience chanted, pumped fists, moshed and screamed at the band. I was only allowed to shoot three songs, so at the end of the third song, I tried to push my way to safety at the back of the Turf Club. Trying to move back proved problematic – people were packed in the bar trying to get a good view of Skeletonwitch and all the action. After several minutes I made my way to the back and the moshing and charging the stage continued – I was happy to be out of the action, a sure sign that I am getting old. It was warm outside and a pressure cooker in the Turf Club. Despite the heat and all the pummeling I took, I really enjoyed the show! Skeletonwitch and the other bands put on a great show and I can’t wait to see them again!