Maybe it is because I haven’t reviewed a show in over two months or maybe my age is showing, but Friday night was fucking LOUD! For better or worse, The Atomic Bitch Wax, Mirror Queen, WhiteNails and MHEDVED kicked the ever living shit out of my eardrums to the point that I could not fall asleep when I got home. Upon entering Turbo Haus, I noticed a big jar of earplugs that was labelled: “Not Cheesies.” Thank, God I had worn them, although I can’t help but wonder how much less muffled everything would have sounded if they had just turned down everything down a notch. Even though I couldn’t make out a single word, each band gave everything they had, and I can guarantee that no one left the venue that night feeling cheated.
First up was MHEDVED, who were easily the most hardcore band of the night. It was evident that they didn’t have the fanbase everyone else had, but I commend them for their energy, particularly the guitarist, who looked like Dave Grohl at his goofiest. The lead singer also had an energy and looked like he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown; he would pace around in front of the stage, stopping to let out a half grunt, half screech that honestly sounded painful. The problem was he did this every five seconds! Half the audience seemed hypnotized, and the other half backed away politely. Fuck, the dude could wail, but honestly, after a while, it got to be a bit much.
WhiteNails were up next and, although they were far from being a quiet acoustic act, were much easier on the ears. Their style was very much indebted to Black Sabbath, but the diverse instrumentation and emphasis on groove drew influence from Vol 4, more than Paranoid or Master of Reality. The other difference was vocalist Darcy who, though in the same vocal range as Ozzy Osbourne, gave me a slight post-punk vibe a la Ian Curtis. He also bore a striking similarity to Michael Mando from Better Call Saul. It probably had to do with his down to earth, blue collar style, that is the total opposite of the usual all black costume and long, flowing hair. The audience felt the band’s approachability because no one felt the need to shy away during this set.
Mirror Queen were similar to WhiteNails, although far more bluesy. I instantly got the feeling of listening to Robin Trower on a record player in a basement full of shag carpeting. It did not help that lead singer and guitarist Kenny Kreisor was sporting a set of curls that I’m sure I’ve seen in old pictures of my uncle. You could accuse Mirror Queen of maybe sounding dated, but you could never accuse them of being unable to rock out. They added a much needed heavy metal twist to the kind of tacky, porn rock our parents used to make out to awkwardly. I did not know how the crowd would react, but man did they love it! It comes down to this: you could groove or head bang to their music, and everyone in the audience did one or the other!
I’ll be honest, when it came time for The Atomic Bitchwax, my hearing and attention were almost entirely gone. Having four bands on the roster is way too much! It is hard to appreciate heavier music if you are always getting smacked in the face by a wall of sound. That said, holy shit could these guys play! Once again, they boasted the ability to draw from and extrapolate early 70s metal, but they were by far the most unique in their approach. This was the band that everyone had come to see! However, Chris Kosnik and Finn Ryan’s vocals didn’t do it for me. It was almost as if someone had superimposed an old timey comedy duo over the instrumentation of Motorhead’s Overkill. I get that they were going for something unique, but it was just way too hokey for my taste. The vocals did not matter though because most of their set was comprised of short, epic guitar blasts that, much to the delight of the audience, got faster and more out of control as the night wore on.
By the time I left, my ears were flatlining. I could blame the sound, but I think there is a high possibility that these bands were just too kickass for me. There’s no shame in admitting defeat. Now, if I could only get my hearing back.
Written by Shawn Thicke
Photography by Thomas Gentil
*edited by Danielle Kenedy