Photos by David Rubene.
Everything about last night was weird. The line-up was weird, the choice of venue was weird… it was just weird. I didn’t care. Weird is good and I was about to cross off one of the remaining bands on my ever dwindling bucket list. Although the show didn’t quite go as planned and the whole running forty minutes behind had me struggling this morning, it ended up being a hell of a show and will definitely be in the running for top of the year.
Kicking the night off was Gozu from Boston. Their sludgey almost stoner metal sound was the perfect soundtrack to kick the night off with. Although distorted and heavy, everything about their set was precise. Without any jumping or running around on stage, it was clear that the four members are truly masters of their craft. You could see the concentration in their faces and feel the passion that came off of their instruments. As someone who had never heard of Gozu prior to walking into last night’s show, their short set last night was the perfect teaser for this band. I walked away from their set feeling like I knew their music but also knowing there was so much more. I honestly can’t wait to dig into their music a bit more and hope to catch them again soon.
After a quick stage change over, Great American Ghost blasted onto the stage and instantly stole my heart. Vocalist Ethan Harrison probably only spent about ten percent of their quick set on stage and spent the rest of the time stomping across the floor just in front of the stage. The crowd followed suit and within the first song a pit had opened up and I found myself in a precarious location against the wall with nothing but open space to my side. Knowing that chances of me being hit would be high until someone came and stood next me, I split my time between watching the rambunctious crowd and trying to watch the band. The music was much more intense than that of Gozu and just as precise. With a more hardcore vibe, Great American Ghost’s music was much more up my alley and could be why I enjoyed their set so much (it was either that or the thrill I always get from standing near a pit). Even with some technical difficulties spattered throughout their set, Great American Ghost absolutely killed it and definitely earned a spot in my heart.
Up next was Black Tusk from Savannah, Georgia. They brought a little bit of southern metal mixed with a whole lot of sludge and energy. Although the crowd calmed a little, it wasn’t much and the pit that had been opened up for people to throw down and ninja kick in was quickly taken over by the push-pitters. It was a good old-fashioned metal show as Black Tusk powered through their heavy and dark yet energetic set. Although constantly being compared to bands like Baroness and Kylesa due to sharing a hometown and the overall vibe of their music but Black Tusk is truly on their own playing field. Their music is unique and their live show is intense without being in your face. Like during Gozu, I was captivated by the four members of Black Tusk and the obvious amount of concentration and talent they each had. Having seen them before, it’s easy to see that this is a band that never stops working and learning. Although their music is distinctively theirs, it’s also always evolving and that will always keep me coming back for me.
What happened next may be one of the best sets of the year for me. The Casualties got me into punk music. Sounds dramatic but it’s true. I remember getting a copy of their 2001 album “Die Hards” and being captivated by the look of the punks. Their brightly colored hair fashioned in giant liberty spikes and mohawks, the chains hanging from their camo pants– they were everything my mother had warned me of and therefore everything I wanted to be. Their music was fast and intense with a sense of aggression that instantly stuck with me. Fast forward to last night and I was finally getting a chance to see this band that set me on a path that I have yet to leave. Although it hasn’t been a straight path, I always find myself going back to my roots and listening to “Die Hards” by the Casualties with a giant smile on my face.
Although not the exact line-up that I had obsessed over back in the early 2000’s, as soon as I saw the mohawks I was transported back to my angsty years. The band blasted into their set which was complete with stage dives, circle pits, and everything in-between. The amount of energy this band had was truly off the charts and although it was already past my bed time and we still had a whole other band to go, I found myself completely lost in the moment and the atmosphere. Vocalist David Rodriguez had nothing but amazing things to say as he spoke about the Twin Cities’ punk scene and how great it is. He went on to mention the Triple Rock (RIP) and all of the people in the scene that make the Twin Cities a home away from home for him and his bandmates. I couldn’t argue with anything he said, the feeling I had during The Casualties’ set couldn’t have been better. Watching as people stopped to help those who fell in the pit before continuing on their journey around the circle pit was heart warming and being able to sing along to the songs that had me falling in love with punk music back in the day while being surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people was a feeling I will never forget. The Casualties may not have been the headliner of Tuesday night’s show but they definitely stole the show for me.
Closing out the already amazing night of music was the almighty Goatwhore. Again, at this point I was ready to leave. Being able to cross The Casualties off my bucketlist was a dream come true and their show was so much more than I could have ever imagined. That being said, Goatwhore definitely did their best to keep up and end the night with a bang. Their lengthy set had to have lasted nearly twenty songs with each being more intense than the last. Ben, the vocalist, has a way of coming off as truly aggressive while also staying completely real. There’s something so intense about him but not to the point of making him intimidating. That vibe kept my stuck in the palm of Goatwhore’s hand as they played through their set with an undeniable sense of intensity and power. When it was all said and done, I was left exhaustion. Not just physically but also mentally. It was a long night of intense music and passion and Goatwhore’s closing set just about did me in.
I’ve seen bands from my bucket list and been completely disappointed with what they give me when it comes to their live show. That was not the case with The Casualties. Every band that performed last night was amazing but being able to see that one band you never thought you’d get a chance to see and having them be better than you could have ever dreamed– yeah, I went to bed with a giant smile on my face.