On March 19th 2018, Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Graveyard and Demob Happy brought “Peace Across the Wasteland” to Vancouver, and damn, what a great lineup that was. The night was definitely an interesting one for me, as it started off with excitement purely for Uncle Acid, as I have been listening to them for nearly 2.5 years, and then a growing of realization of how much I enjoy watching bands that I know nothing about.
Let us start off by back-peddling to before the show even started, and do a brief explanation of who the hell the bands that I just listed are, because I think context is always needed to really sell a point, and for a reader to understand what the hell I’m even yodelling about.
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats
Uncle Acid is a four piece UK based “doom metal” band, that I have grown to really love and appreciate over the years. In the nine years together (although many members have come and gone) the band has released five studio albums, and even toured with their inspiration, Black Sabbath.
More often than not, Uncle Acid gets called the “love child” of black sabbath and the stooges, and, although, I can hear the obvious influences, I think Uncle Acid is a melting pot of the 60s emerging metal scene…on acid, and therefore cannot be simply a love child of two bands, but instead a 60s orgy of all bands? Ok I’m getting carried away with this analogy, but just keep in mind that when you do listen to them, you, too, will think “60s metal orgy”.
One of my most favourite things about Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats is the consistent horror thematics throughout all five albums — now is also a good time to mention that they were once called “The Sharon Tate Experience”, like how cool is that? — and you can get a real feel of that with their song titles like “Waiting For Blood”, “Murder Nights”, Death’s Door”, “Dead Eyes of London”, etc. For me, something I really appreciate in a band is not only the musical logistics, but as well as the extra effort of creativity a band can put, such as thematics. It’s one thing to knock out some killer rock’n’roll tunes, but nailing an aesthetic is as important because with an aesthetic comes cool live experiences (like Uncle Acid), killer merch (like Uncle Acid) and a culture that you want to immerse yourself into, to the point you keep following the band (like Uncle Acid).
Now, I will admit, do I really know what Uncle Acid are saying in their songs? No, not at all the time. Can I name the members of the band? No, I had to google it: “Uncle Acid” aka Kevin R Starrs (lead vocals, guitar and organ), Vaughn Strokes (rythym guitar & backing vocals), Jon Rice (drums), Justin Smith (bass). SOO, you may call me a “fake fan”, but to my defence, Uncle Acid is just one of those bands that I listen to, pretty regularly if I’m honest, just never went the extra mile to “creep” (so to speak) — which is why seeing them live was a different experience for me, however, we’ll get to that after I introduce all the bands.
Graveyard is a four piece bluesy-hard-rock Swedish (SVERIGE) band, that formed around 13 years ago in the beautiful city of Gothenburg aka Götenburg (ok, yes, I’ve been waiting for an excuse to practice my swedish, leave me alone). Although, in those ~13 years, the band reformed and disbanded and re-arranged their formation a few times ((according to google)): they toured with my most favourite band in 2013 (soundgarden) then disbanded in 2016..yada yada, Let’s talk about what actually matters: The music.
Graveyard has released 5 studio albums in seven years (2011-2018), and has stayed true to their hard-rock-blues genre, which for me is something I surprisingly have been enjoying with this band even though I’ve only been listening to them (consistently) for 6 or 7 months, and I haven’t fully indulge into their discography (as much as I have liked to). But what I have gathered so far is that Graveyard, unlike a lot of modern bands, stick to their distinct sound and don’t feel pressured to “changed it up”, whhich is actually similar to Uncle Acid in that sense.
Also similar to Uncle Acid, Graveyard has a psychedelic/retro feel to their sound, except it doesn’t give you the “brain melting” effect that Uncle Acid has. Instead, Graveyard carries more of a bluesy grit, that you can’t help but squint your eyes when you bop your head to the sensational guitar sounds. You also can’t help but become infactuated with the strikingly rough voice that Joakim Nilsson pierces your sou with. If sweden had soul-culture, Joakim Nilsson’s voice is the captain of it, because man, the voice on him blows my mind.
Peace , Graveyards fifth studio album, first album without drummer Axel Sjöberg, and introduction of new drummer Oskar Bergenheim, is probably one of the most solid hard-rock-blues albums I have heard in a long time, and I didn’t realize that until I was in Stockholm! So, again, not a lot of background knowledge on my end on the band’s music, other than a few listens of certain albums and songs; which is honestly what made my live experience with Graveyard and Demob Happy (who I will speak of next) all that more exciting and more fruitful.
Demob happy (which, by the way, you are probably reading incorrectly because I certainly was until I heard them introduce themselves and it was pronounced literally nothing like I thought it would be) ANYWAYS, Demob happy is a three piece British alternative rock band from the Geordie Shores (I’m only kidding, please don’t blacklist me).
The band formed in 11 years ago (wow, did not expect that piece of information; they look so young?) in Newcastle, then relocated to Brighton in efforts to gain more exposure, since Brighton is more known for their appreciation of arts than Newcastle is (Still not shading, simply just stating facts). From there, the band has been really pushing through the scene with their dreamy-hip-shaking tunes, and even creating their own label called Milk Parlour Records.
Now, my experience with Demob Happy has been something of a rare one for me because if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, you would be aware of my ever-growing-distaste for alternative rock; if not, read here. Alternative-rock and I have a conflicting relationship, which more often than not, results in me not going back to listen to it.. And that’s not because I have been turning into a metal elitist snob (ok, maybe), it’s just that alternative-rock tends to fall flat for me. There’s only so much repetition I can take without wanting to change the song, however, I didn’t get that annoying feeling with Demob Happy, in fact I wanted to listen to more.
Demob Happy literally has that “hip-shaking, neck grooving” vibe that you just simply want more of. Their music makes you feel good, and for me, that’s enough of a reason to ignore the obsession of “genre-elitism” and just rock tf out! Their sophomore album, Holy Doom, exudes a modern day “Rubber Soul” with a heavy-twist, and as someone who is the biggest Beatles nerd to ever exist, it’s definitely something that attracts my attention and even more so after seeing them live.
WHICH we can now finally get to the discussion of the Peace Across the Wasteland tour and how the three acts, as I like to describe as “melted my face off”, live.
Peace Across the Wasteland Tour
Now I know that Uncle Acid is technically classified “stoner metal”, and metalheads have the tendency to mosh to literally anything, however, I did not expect people to mosh that hard to what I always thought to be “groovy music”. I spent majority of this three-act show against the barrier, until my 5’5 95 lb self had to tap out when the barrier was being pushed between my ribs and I was becoming convinced it was going to pop out — I guess I got spoiled in the Swedish pit when no one shoved to that extent (lol).
Doors opened at 7pm, and the show started at around 8pm with Demob Happy. Now, I will be honest with you all, for the first chunk of the show I was quite inebriated, and I don’t remember how it started — meaning when Demob Happy walked on — but I do remember that no one was in the pit until Demob Happy started playing, because I also do remember that the floor was empty and then all of a sudden the venue was rocking to a stellar drum beat that dragged everyone, myself included, to the “dance floor” — we can now officially call that the “Demob Happy” impact.
Sadly, there is no copy of the setlist online, and even though I tried to attain a hard copy at the show I did not succeed in said temporary goal — I don’t remember what exactly happened, but I think it had to do with my attention not being on the security after the show, and instead being on getting water (it was probably beer, but let’s pretend I was being responsible on a Tuesday). However, I do remember clearly being completely blown away by Demob Happy’s live atmosphere!
As mentioned earlier on, I initially bought tickets to see Uncle Acid, as I am a big fan of their music and I can actually sing along to few of their songs, so I went in with the intention to mostly enjoy Uncle Acid’s set, surprisingly though, now that the show is over, I think I can say that Demob Happy takes the cake as my favourite set of the night…
Although I don’t know the “confirmed” setlist, I do know for a fact that Demob Happy played “Loosen It” solely because there’s no mistaking the groove of that drum beat. The drummer, if I remember correctly, Tom, is a beast on the drums. I could not peel my eyes away from him, even when I wanted to, watching him play is intoxicating. You not only feel his passion, but almost get possessed by it? I mean, like I said, I literally couldn’t look away even when I tried to.
Luckily, I am good at telling my hazy brain what to do and was able to evaluate the rest of the band and soak in all the elements of the music, and appreciated how it balanced well with what I find to be drum-centric tunes (I think I just made that term up, but let’s just keep rolling with it) . Demob Happy’s music, especially live, is quick to get you nodding along to the pace he, Tom, sets up with drums, while your hips sway to the bassline being played by the lead singer and bassist, Matthew, and then when the guitar rips in by Adam…you find yourself questioning why you haven’t listened to more of their music earlier because it all just fucking works so well.
Demob Happy definitely took me by surprise, because, again, I didn’t think they would be so into a “alternative rock” band, which by the way can spill into the “hard rock” genre with some tunes. Their live energy is very electric, it’s fresh and when they get off the stage you get left with the feeling of wanting more — and as an opening band for a two-headliner show, that is damn hard to accomplish! This just proves how underrated and talented they are!
Not only is Demob Happy a genuinely fun band to watch they are actually really cool dudes in person too; and again, I am not only completely surprised by this experience, but really grateful for it because it re-ignited my excitement for “new” underrated bands. Team interwebs, you know the main thing that drives my writing and my blog is getting to know other super passionate people who live, eat, drink, breathe music; and I felt like the Demob Happy lads were just that. Seeing that energy on stage, and also getting a short feel of it when I met them, made my heart so happy, it reminded me that excitement for MUSIC is still very much alive. Thank you Tom, Matthew and Adam for representing modern day rocknroll in such a genuine but humble way and I’m looking forward to seeing you three back in Vancouver (hopefully soon).
With that being said, after having my mind blown from watching Demob Happy (and then meeting the cool dudes), it was time for Graveyard whom, just until a month ago in Sweden, I didn’t know much about!
Graveyard’s bluesy-rock gives you more of an ominous whiskey feeling (yes, whiskey is a feeling,you just need to drink more if you don’t know what I’m talking about), whereas Demob Happy was more of a uplifting rocknroll kinda vibe, so the pace of the show shifted.. Things got heavier and the “face melting experience began” ( as did the rib breaking feeling). Graveyard is something more “up my alley”, as I am a huge fan of the bluesy-grit-rock genre,and I live for the deepdark south music. Also, huge emphasis on Joakim Nilsson’s incredible voice, it gave me some serious goosebumps.
I find that there are a lot of rock bands that are more gratifying to listen to live than on recording, and for me, Graveyard is one of those bands. Before seeing them live, I was only able to listen to a few of their songs at a time until I would change artists because I felt that after a while the songs could feel repitive. Graveyard live, however, didn’t have that repitive feeling, and I think it has to do with the “raw” atmosphere that bands like Graveyard display when they’re on stage, it’s just different live and it’s something you want to keep listening to and watching. Oddly enough, I felt the same way about another “doom metal” Swedish band, Candlemass, they’re just simply more enticing live.
Bands like Graveyard, Candlemass, and even Uncle Acid, are meant to be played dirty and loud, and when the songs get balanced and cleaned up in studio it can really kill the vibe. Which is something you would only notice after you hear the songs live, you will realize that you prefer them live (I actually feel the same way about the Foo Fighters).
Speaking of Uncle Acid, after a good solid full set of Graveyard, the time for me to finally see Uncle Acid had come! By the time they came on, I think it was 11:20pm, I was bruised, battered, dehydrated, and truly living my best life in the (unanticipated) pit. It’s rare that the “opening acts” are as good, if not better, than the headliner, so I felt truly spoiled that I was having such a good time, even before the band that I mainly-intended to see, came on.
I was truly riding a concert-high by the time Uncle Acid came on and things started to blur into one big dream of happiness, and I didn’t want it to end. Keep in mind that I really never searched up any of these bands before, and even though I listened to Uncle Acid pretty regularly for 2.5 years, I didn’t know their names, what they looked like or even where they came from, the night was purely just about the music and rocking out; and the night was exactly that.
Uncle Acid’s set was truly the best way to end the 4 hours of music. I know I keep saying this, but it genuinely melted my face off, and I think it was the same for everyone else in the crowd because everything became a hazy mess of swaying, pushing, jumping and just physically appreciating the music being unearthed into the venue.
It didn’t matter that I didn’t know who exactly the band is, or where they came from, all that mattered is if you’re there to rejoice in the music we all share the common love for and plainly put: ROCK THE FUCK OUT… and that my friends, I did.
All in all, it was such a fun way to kick off my “home based” concert season (since my actual concert season started in Sweden). Going into this event “blind” (aka not really knowing what to expect) made it so much more exciting, and even though I couldn’t sing along to the songs, I still danced along to the songs, and that just proves these bands know how to entertain any kind of crowd. The Peace Across The Wasteland tour is an incredible lineup of three live bands who all offer something different, but ultimately hit every corner of rocknroll that will undoubtedly feed your rock loving soul, so if a show is coming near you and hasn’t passed your city yet, GO SEE IT.
Until next time Interwebs! 🕸
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