What’s that you say? It’s really freaking cold out? It could have been a record low for the Friday that The Vogue was putting on a local metal extravaganza they called The Dead Rising? I think by the time we walked out of the venue it was a stunning 3 degrees with the real temperature feel being colder than a well digger’s ass in January. . . but, it was February. . . or, something like that.
A great way to say bon voyage to the last day in February and the last significant winter month of 2014-2015. We braved the arctic winds to check out a night of ear-blistering metal. Although not the usual wall-to-wall people like a national concert usually provides, there were plenty of people willing to do the same.
Like a heat lamp to your face, Indy’s Catalytic warmed us up fast. A welcome return to the stage, what a better place to kick back into gear than The Vogue. It’s really a great thing what this venue is doing, being host to more local shows and giving these bands an opportunity to perform on a stage many musicians of the past only dreamed of standing on.
Like the cold being COLD, Catalytic was LOUD. They plunged into their series of songs that instantly impressed the audience to come a little closer and take a gander. Every band member showcased an intensity that not only made the music speak for itself but also proved these group of guys were 110% serious. This was my first time experiencing Catalytic live, and it was only after several songs that we realized there was no bassist. How could that be with a sound as full as this? The span of brutal hardcore riffs and melodic prowess from vocalist Dustin Strole that quickly melted into angered syllables protruding from the human language and being spit out into the crowd would slap the faces of those understanding the experience. The power of their groove beat on a song like “Saving This Day” had everyone watching and nodding their heads in acceptance. Strole’s low-end growling howl put a realistic tinge on the whole facade. It was hard to imagine that after experiencing something like this, we had three more bands to go.
Bionic Monks hit the stage like a ton of bricks, not letting any transition slow them down. They launched into an instrumental that was absolutely fierce and brutal. Guitarist Justin Herb showed such violent headbanging that we were sure he would have extreme whiplash before the end of the first song. Not having a bass player out of Catalytic made the basswork of Eric Herb and father to Justin, which is not something you see everyday, that much more poignant. Eric is a big guy in the same retrospect that James Hetfield is a big guy, and Eric’s bass makes him look bigger. Whether it is psychological or not, his low-end sound was more than enough to get your attention.
Taking breaks from their songs to do some covers, it was nice to hear familiarity from this Columbus, Indiana, band, but in context, their originals far outshined a decent cover of “Wish You Were Here,” dedicated to the military, and a less than impressive cover of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” This not long after proving they have the punk chops to rip through one of their own songs with speed and controlled aggression. Even though it seemed they brought a proud fanbase with them, I don’t think covers were necessary to keep the momentum as a song like “Bring It On” was nothing more than simply kick ass.
Connersville, Indiana, group Lines’ first time playing in Indy was on The Vogue’s stage. How intimidating and awesome would that experience be? I would be shitting myself for multiple reasons getting thrown into the lions as an initial impression to the capital city. For the band, it seemed to show as it took them a few songs to match up the tuning and levels on their Alice in Chains-like harmonies and get comfortable with the Indy surroundings. There also seemed to be some kind of disconnect between one side of the stage with guitarist Jeremy Lovins carrying the emotions on his shoulders and doing everything he can to work the stage while bassist Ryan Snoddy and guitarist Skylar Nichols expressed a more controlled focus to the foundation of the band’s sound. Where this all came together was when Lovins played his first solo. This guy looks like he could not hurt a fly, yet his guitar shredding was WWE-like status. He was tearing through notes with perfect ease and O-facing about it all over the stage. One solo became another and we were, for lack of more descriptive words (which his guitar work deserves), blown away. When we could pick our jaws up off the floor, he simply acted like a cheerleader to the band as vocalist Daniel Wasson was a joy to listen to. A few more gigs in that capacity, and this band will really be one to watch out for.
And one of the biggest reasons for showing up was to get the opportunity to see Join The Dead perform live. Any chance you get to see this Indianapolis band, you do it. No matter what the situation is. No matter what the venue is. Join The Dead aims to please and they are grateful to do what they do. Despite some sound flaws with the vocals going in and out, you would really have to go deep to realize this is a local band. Their music is as big and full as any national act that comes through this city. Jason Carr’s drumming was like revving up a hot rod. The beats he pounds out seem effortless. The show marked his birthday so a round was drank, the traditional song was sung, and then it was back into the meat of the night.
The band worked together with such chaotic fury that even when they sometimes would bump into each other or tangle up in a wire or two, it did not get them down for a second and the band really kept up the pace.
Join the Dead is really a band that needs to be experienced as necessary as it needs to be listened to. They present a duality where one can exist without the other, but only amplifies as both conjoin into one mindstream. The emotions that pour out of these guys make songs like “Lost” and “Valkyre” more sobering as Sahar Montavio tries to give every audience member the middle finger while screaming, “I don’t give a FUCK!” The severity in which he executes this gesture, I was afraid he was going to rip his finger off and smash it in your face. The audience at it up! Montavio’s vocal abilities are expressive. He’s a showman while being sincere to the cause of the songs. And not just that, the band practically feeds off of each other. If Casey McDermott could play his bass with a sledgehammer, he would. If Steve Boyles and James Sweeney could form an army out of their guitarwork, they would. Sure there were problems throughout this show. Things happen, but that’s what contributes to the organic quality of a live show and how the bands handled each issue and problem solved immediately on the spot. I have to hand it to each of these groups, for a local show to take on this much caliber, it was inspiring.
Join the Dead Live: