February 18, 2016 Graveyard & Spiders Triumph in NYC 2-8-16
It seems like it was just yesterday that Sweden’s Graveyard made their US live debut at SXSW Festival in Austin, TX. Although, that was in 2008, and so much has happened for the band out of Gothenburg in that time. Now four albums deep into their career, Graveyard has also visited North America many times, including a run opening for Mastodon and Clutch in 2015. Building a name among Heavy Rock fans as an act well-worth checking out, their ’70s style warps into modern times as they impressed audiences yet again with the release of Innocence & Decadence in September of 2015. Visiting North America briefly in December for two weeks of headlining shows, fans were eager for a full blown run of dates, and their wish came true when the second leg kicked off January 22nd.
This time around focusing on the Midwest and the East Coast, Graveyard teamed up with fellow Swedes Spiders for a tour that would see them visit cities such as Detroit, Atlanta, and of course, New York. In fact, they would be scheduled to play two dates in the New York City area, the first being on January 23rd at Bowery Ballroom and the second being at Brooklyn Bowl in the borough of Brooklyn. Unfortunately, New York City had dodged real Winter weather this season for far too long and a Winter storm by the name of Jonas pounded the area the weekend of January 23rd, thus forcing the Bowery Ballroom show to be postponed. Fans need not worry though because, thanks to scheduled off days, Graveyard and Spiders were able to meet their Bowery Ballroom obligations on Monday, February 8th. Mother Nature would not stop Rock-n-Roll this time, and fans were ready to go as they arrived at the venue.
Hailing from Gothenburg as well, the four-piece band known as Spiders were up first on the night’s schedule. Both Graveyard and Spiders have a common link, both rising from the ashes of the band Norrsken (Swedish for Aurora Borealis) after the band split back in 2000. Debuting in 2012 with the album Flashpoint, the band immediately turned heads with their sound that can only be described as having the Doom, Blues Rock driven feel of Black Sabbath with the channeled spirit of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant on vocals. Following up strongly with the album Shake Electric in 2014, American fans have been itching to see the band live, and now the time had come.
This ’70s Rock dream features the husband and wife duo John Hoyles of Witchcraft on lead guitar and Ann-Sofie Hoyles on vocals, along with Olle Griphammar on bass and Richard Harryson on drums. With their cutting edge of Classic Rock meets an Adam Ant and Ziggy Stardust vibe, Spiders opened the night by setting the bar extremely high and proverbially transported onlookers to a time when Hard Rock was pure, the clothes were glitzy, and the bands were powerful. Playing songs like “Mad Dog,” Control,” and the fan-favorite “Shake Electric,” the band had the crowd in a groove from the start. Keeping the magic flowing, they offered up other killer songs including “Love Me,” “Hang Man,” and the sexy “Only Your Skin.”
Mixing up their lengthy set with cuts from both their albums, Spiders was not just a supporting band, they were the other half of a superb double lineup. Rocking out with tracks such as body moving “Why Don’t You,” “Stendec,” and “Rules of the Game,” they closed out their set with ruckus riffage of “War of the World.” The charisma and chemistry of the band was like traveling back in time and expecting Mick Ronson or Mott the Hoople to be the next acts up. Spiders provided a Glam aspect to the night, and when combined with the set of pipes that Mrs. Hoyles is equipped with, the band gained an entire venue of fans.
With out further ado, the show moved rather quickly as headliners Graveyard were up shortly after. Marking their first visit to Bowery Ballroom since May 11, 2014, when they played with Bombus, fans welcomed them back with open arms. With the lineup of Guitarist/Vocalist Joakim Nilsson, Guitarist Jonatan Larocca-Ramm, Drummer Axel Sjöberg, and Bassist Truls Mörck, the band was ready to show the city that never sleeps one hell of a good time.
Coming out razor sharp, they lifted off their set with a highly psychedelic background draped behind them as they jammed into the moody “No Good, Mr. Holden.” Igniting a sea of applause, from there they went into a heavy dosage of Innocence & Decadence songs such as “From a Hole in the Wall,” “Exit 97,” “Cause & Defect,” and “Too Much Is Not Enough.” Of course they balanced the new with the old as they sprinkled in 2011’s “Buying Truth (Tack & Förlåt),” 2012’s “The Suits, the Law & the Uniform,” and the eerie toned “An Industry of Murder.” Creating a thick and dark atmosphere, the band recaptured the clarity of the studio recordings, but at the same time created an ambiance that can only be felt in a live setting.
The crowd was a sea of bobbing heads as the night grooved on. Mörck sung lead on trippy tunes like “As the Years Pass by, the Hours Bend,” and then Nilsson’s voice remained strong for the bluesy “Magnetic Shunk” as Sjöberg’s drumming packed a punch. Ushering in the second half of Graveyard’s performance, the crowd’s noise level picked up in response to the opening chords of “Hisingen Blues” and a peculiar scent wafted over parts of the room. This was followed by several squinty-eyed smiles as the packed room hung on every vocal strain that Nilsson uttered into his microphone. Audience participation seemed to happen, even if not requested, and the chorus “Where is the future?” was heard across Bowery Ballroom in unison. Stirring up more enthusiastic head-banging, and a surprising mosh pit by several spectators, they kept the momentum going with “Endless Night” before closing out with “Uncomfortably Numb.”
Roaring for more, Graveyard returned for a four song encore that began with “Stay for a Song” and “The Apple and the Tree,” both off Innocence & Decadence. Letting the music speak for them, the show ended with “Ain’t Fit to Live Here” and finally “The Siren,” a song that showcases the broad versatility of Nilsson’s voice. He moves from a sorrowful and warm vocal range to a shrill that would make Robert Plant fear being upstaged. The band wrapped up in true Rock fashion, tossing out every guitar pick and handing out copies of the set list, making some fans even happier than they were before.
In its entirety, Graveyard and Spiders’ visit to New York City had been even more anticipated due to the prior week’s inclement weather. Between the two bands, it was an anything but subtle reminder that musicianship in “modern” music has not disappeared, but rather has become the rare gems that the enthusiastic are willing to go out of their way to catch. Some fans even came from as far as Maine to see the show, that is dedication and speaks volumes for the impact of music. Lucky city dwellers would be able to catch Graveyard and Spiders perform again in Brooklyn 48 hours later on February 10th. All in all, the night at Bowery Ballroom was one of pure Rock-n-Roll, the way it used to be, and thanks to bands like theses, it still is.