Wednesday, May 11, 2016

HMT GOES TO THE SHOW - Michale Graves - May 1st, 2016

Firehouse 13
PROVIDENCE - It was a rainy night in the city of Providence. The city that inspired a number of the creepy tales HP LOVECRAFT is famously known for. Firehouse 13 was the venue and my Sunday night was free. I was too lazy to try and find some concert appropriate wear, so I just hopped in the car wearing my button down shirt and a hoodie. I've gotten to the age where I'm ok with being the older guy in the crowd that doesn't always fit in. Hell, isn't that what Punk was founded upon, the intentional nonconformity was not lost on me. With the guidance of GPS on my cell phone, I traveled down a few streets I wasn't familiar with and landed right smack in front of the old firehouse renovated into a punk club. The parking situation wasn't great. No off street parking garages. No sketchy guy with a flag offering an overpriced spot in an abandoned lot. Fortunately a spot was open about a block a way near some type of housing situation. As I locked my car, I kept my fingers crossed that it was mere luck that I found a spot and not that I missed a "no parking sign" somewhere like I did many years ago in Boston. It was on the verge of raining and walking across the city to find a tow station was not something I was looking forward to.
Graves in Action! (photo credit John DeAngelis)

Approaching the front of the club, I could see that my wardrobe was definitely going to make me stand out like a sore thumb. While I'm not a guy that usually cares about fashion or what I generally wear from day to day, when it comes to concerts I am apprehensive about being "that guy". Leather, spikes and battle vests adorned the concertgoers standing outside of this old firehouse. Various forms of facial hair and fake blood smudged faces crook their head as I walked up to the door. I was greeted by an old friend who works various clubs around the city. We chit chatted a bit and then I paid the very fair price of $13 to get in.($10 if purchased before show day).

Michale Graves and Band (photo credit John DeAngelis)
The Skeleton Beats were on stage and causing quite a punk rock ruckus. The band's sound was a cross between rock-a-billy and your standard modern punk. Their frontwoman was a breath of fresh air in a mostly male dominant genre. They cut through a swath of songs, some only played a few times previously according to their frontwoman. During the set I met up with fellow HMT contributor Gary Deangelis(he writes our pieces on KISS) and his brother John who is an avid concert goer. I picked up a Blue Moon Beer between sets so as to avoid having to do that yell and hand signal ordering thing you end up doing during a really loud show. The venue was indeed loud when bands were playing but I commend them on their sound system. The overall atmosphere of the club reminds me a bunch of the old clubs I used to hit up in Providence in the 90's. The room was low lit, various exposed beams and pipes hung overhead and the dancefloor was tight quarters.

Next up Tony Jones and the Cretins 3 made their way to the stage. Tony is a mountain of a man, towering over everyone everywhere he goes. Tony is also as nice as he is tall. While watching his mannerisms behind his bare bones drum kit I had to smile. He comes from a by gone era even though he's still a pretty young guy. He is a band leader in the true sense of the word leader. He's been known to dabble in the Rhode Island Political scene and he definitely comes off as a man of the people. The band itself brought to mind the punk stylings of a band like the Ramones. I personally dug a song about waking up on a bathroom floor. The same scenario had happened to me many years ago unfortunately at a friends graduation party. Tony's lead guitarist has a very original style and it was cool to hear him throw in some psychedelic distortion into the mix. Tony also shared vocals on a few songs with his bass player who while being a completely different type of vocalist gelled well with the energy of the rest of the band. Overall I was impressed with my first time really hearing the band in a live setting.
Graves resident Axe Grinder

As Tony and the band broke down their set, my friends and I decided to take a breather outside. There is a Mcdonalds right across the street from the venue and for the next 20 minutes or so we found ourselves shaking our heads sitting in the golden arches regretting our decision to even order food. The food was crap, the service was atrocious(one kid behind the counter was practicing karate and dance moves) and I swore there was a dead guy sitting in a booth. Fortunately the comatose patron moved before we left.

With stale burgers on our breath we headed into the Firehouse which was now filled with the sound of another local act Damnation. I wasn't feeling their vibe too much. The band had been walking around the crowd earlier wearing leather jackets with patches of their band's name emblazoned on their backs. I hate to judge a book but I wished the band would've taken as much care with their performance as they did their appearance. Everyone's gotta start somewhere I guess.

Meet and Greeting with Graves
As we reentered the venue, Gary spotted Michale Graves in front of his merch table. I was beyond psyched. As someone that likes to stay low key and not stand out in a crowd it's often times difficult for me temper my excitement in situations with people I admire. I kept it cool and thankfully Gary's bro John had a camera on hand to take a pic of our meeting. Gary had Graves sign an incredible Misfits poster. I planned on picking up Graves latest cd which I had been listening to for two weeks straight off a leaked youtube video. I loaded up this very web blog onto my cell phone to show Michale
our interview in case he didn't recall me from the name of the blog alone. As I approached Michale I pointed the screen of my cell phone towards him and he gave me a big smile. He also gave me a hug which he gave everyone that met him that night. "Free Hugs" was written on his merch poster. I put down my cash for the cd, thanked him for giving me the time for our interview and was floored when Michale proceeded to sign several posters and the cd jacket. He handed me a stack of signed merch and I walked away in a daze. He patted me on the back and said thank you. Sometimes meeting your heroes turns out phenomenal. With my hands full I ran down the street to my car(which was still parked where I left it) and hid my goods in the trunk.

I returned to the venue and met up with my friends near the bar as Damnation was finishing up their set. Spotting some real estate near the stage I walked over and claimed my spot for the Michale Grave's set. RUSH was piped into the PA system as Graves band sound checked. The lights came up as Michale took the stage in his trademark Fedora which he told the crowd made him feel like Sinatra. The crowd shouted "I love yous" throughout the set which included a perfect mix of new tunes and classic Graves era Misfit singalong songs. I lost my voice and regained it several times. The crowd was a mix of young faces and older guys like me who remember hearing many of these tunes when they first landed in our cd walkmans many moons ago. We sang, pumped our fists and it felt like the music brought out our inner young punks for at least that set. Michale Graves has put together an incredible group of musicians who remind me a lot of the classic Danzig/Christ/Biscuits/Vonn lineup. They are as adept at playing the incredibly fast "fits" tunes as well as the heavy tracks like Robot Monster and The Beginning of the End. After walking away drenched in sweat and fake blood(yeah someone tossed a cup of what I thought was beer into the crowd at one point, when the lights came up it looked like I had attended a GWAR show), my friends and I walked over to the merch table. We were able to purchase a few drumsticks which the band graciously signed for us. I bid ado to Tony Jones and said so long to my friends as I walked back to my vehicle. It was an incredible night I wont soon forget.

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