I Went and Saw Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats & Danava at Urban Lounge in SLC

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As per protocol, I stopped at The Pie Underground on the way to the venue. I won’t get to into it here, but if any of you find yourself in Salt Lake City with some extra cash, get your ass to The Pie. I highly recommend it. I don’t recommend, however, trying to solo a 16″ pizza.

It is after doing exactly that that I drove to the venue, grumpy for a few reasons.

  1. I’m always grumpy.
  2. I ate too much.
  3. Anything “retro” is major hipster power-bait, especially around these parts.

I made it to the venue at around 9:05, and the doors still hadn’t opened even though the show was scheduled to kick off at 9:00 sharp. This is nothing new for Urban Lounge, the son-of-a-bitch venue that only starts shows on time when I’m running late and really want to see the opening act. They like people to show up on time, get really bored waiting, and buy a shitload of rip-off beer.

I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the bullet-belt count far exceeded the fedora count. Here in SLC, we consider that a serious success. Mark one up for the good guys!

Once they filled their pre-show beer sale quota, the show finally started and Danava stumbled through thick weedsmoke from backstage. I had never heard of the band, but the band members’ appearances and the impenetrable wall of Orange gear gave me a pretty good idea of what to expect. The guys are from Portland, and have apparently been players in the throwback, proto-metal game since 2004. The drummer looked exactly like Mikael Åkerfeldt (which means he also looked exactly like Dustin Hoffman in Hook).

Judging by the high concentration of bell-bottoms, the dudes in Danava were just as unreasonably obsessed with the 1970’s as Åkerfeldt, too. The vocalist/guitarist was so devoted to the era that he had fucking feathered bangs. That’s dedication, I guess.

When they started playing, it became immediately apparent that this was relatively high-energy music when compared to the slower groove of headliners Uncle Acid & The DeadbeatsIt was significantly more rowdy than I expected it to be, sometimes even reminding me of Orange Goblin if Ben Ward’s burly, beer-bellied vocals were replaced with a skinny little Ozzy impersonator (read as: more annoying).

Crowd response started off pretty lacking, but by the second song most people were bobbing their heads or half-dancing really awkwardly. After a few high-energy numbers showing increased enthusiasm on the stage, the crowd followed suit and were soon spilling those $7.00 beers they were dumb enough to buy all over their only shirts. As the band loosened up, it became more difficult for me to dislike them, and eventually my still-slightly-cranky/food-concussed ass was headbanging right along. Apparently the venue was having some trouble with the lights, because this is what most of their set looked like:

There was no doubt that these boys could riff, and today my neck can attest. But by the end of their set, my interest was waning. The thing about being a band that worships the 70’s is that you’re just a band that worships the 70’s. You don’t have much of an identity beyond that, so it’s not easy to make an impression. That being said, Danava’s set was a good time. Nothing more, nothing less.

After a short break (PLEASE BUY MORE BEER), Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats were up. For some reason their mic stands had glowing cat eye decorations on them and there were two “totally retro” 90’s box TVs on either side of the stage buzzing with static. After the obligatory horror movie soundtrack intro, they broke into “Mt. Abraxis” with cabs spitting copious amounts of fuzz. I was worried the songs that I prefer (pretty much anything on Blood Lust) were going to take the back seat to songs on the two albums they’re sandwiched between (Vol. 1 — their debut, and Mind Control — their most recent). My fear became reality as they followed “Mt. Abraxis” with “Mind Crawler” and then “Crystal Spiders.”

Just as I was poised to abandon all hope and commit myself to arms-folded bitterness, they said the fated, heavily-accented words: “This one’s called ‘I’m Here to Kill You.'” The song reminded me why I bought tickets in the first place, and the band went from slouching in a psychedelic stupor to performing with contagious, enthusiastic energy. Even the pissed-off bartenders couldn’t help but join in on the communal headbanging. Everything suddenly felt right. They followed it up with another killer Blood Lust track, “Over and Over Again,” and yet again with “Ill Cut You Down.”

I even went out to the floor during this one to join in on the lethargic, swaying mosh because you just can’t deny that riff (1:00 in the video). This song was born to be played live. Uncle Acid are at their best when they’re all singing in nasally falsetto together over killer riffs like this. It’s creepy, it’s engaging, and it really does their horror motif justice, especially in a live setting.

Getting a better picture would have required me to squeeze through a sweaty, beer-soaked mass of non-showerers... Not something I was willing to do after so much pizza.

Getting a better picture would have required me to squeeze through a sweaty, beer-soaked mass of people that don’t shower… Not something I was willing to do after so much pizza.

 

Just when I thought their setlist was getting too good to be true, they broke into “Death’s Door,” another solid Blood Lust headbanger, followed by “Poison Apple,” the only good song on Mind Control. That bouncy first riff packs way more of punch live than it does on the album. Headbanging ensued.

After an impressive chain of excellent songs, they finally dropped the dreaded combo-breaker with “Desert Ceremony” — the most boring song in existence. A couple more and they said they’d be closing with “Devil’s Work,” another boring song from Mind Control. Disappointed at first, I expected the show to end on a bad note. As it turns out, “Devil’s Work” is an absolutely killer live tune. The repetitive, pounding drums are hypnotic and building-shaking, something that was completely lost in it’s translation to recorded music. It ended up being a great sendoff.

I left in a much better mood than I arrived in, and I’ll attribute that to Uncle Acid’s performance. For the most part, they played all the right songs, and they played them damn well. Their creepy shtick works and really lends itself to a live setting. Hurry up and see these guys if you get the chance, preferably before they dilute their Blood Lust-heavy setlist with songs from their growing catalog.

Here are the rest of the dates:

10/06 — Seattle, WA – Neumos
10/07  — Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw
10/08  — Portland, OR – Hawthorne Theatre
10/10  –San Francisco, CA – Slim’s
10/11  — Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy Theater

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