Live Report: Graveyard at the Bootleg Theatre

WORDS BY JULIA NEUMAN. PHOTOS BY ADAM MURRAY.


Bluesy vocals and psychedelic guitars are back with a vengeance in heavy metal. Not that either can go out of style, but bands like Graveyard are doing both exceptionally well right now. Their music is heavy and catchy, simple and carefree, yet, it comes with an unspoken guarantee: it won’t ever be heard on the radio. These are the songs played just for you, in this here dark space, to go with that there delicious beer. Or at least that’s what they want you to think.

Some might call that hipsterdom—and yes, most people at the Bootleg Theatre on January 28 looked like they ransacked the shabby chic vintage store around the corner. But I stopped caring about appearances once I saw them caring about the music. The long line outside the Bootleg was proof that people weren’t just all talk. The buzz about this tour translated into 250+ bodies showing up to sell out the venue.

Graveyard’s set was a no-frills trip through their catalog of singable grooves. Plaid-clad, fringe-laden, uber fashion-conscious types— people with whom I might not have much in common otherwise—suddenly became my buds in the pit as we belted out, “Blue is the color of my soul”. You have to love shows like that. Graveyard lyricizes about emotional baggage, but they simultaneously make light of it all with their melodies. It’s music as medicine, and in a live setting for the stressed out, city-dwelling masses, it reached its highest potency.

Things got rowdier as cups emptied and more people packed the stage perimeter. I was twisted in an awkward position halfway onstage and halfway off, confined for most of the show. But my mind was completely free. There’s no time to think when the crowd is leveling you into a monitor, to a soundtrack of one of 2011’s best albums. All you can do is feel. The momentary loss of thought and physical control; the guitar wails spiraling into oblivion with the oil patterns on the projector screen; a little booze to fuel the ability to stick it out. This was the perfect sensory combination.

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The vocals weren’t always spot on—a sign of Joakim Nilsson’s weariness from the road, and being a long way from home in Sweden. But we couldn’t have asked for a better performance otherwise. They played a good mix of tracks from both Hisingen Blues and their self-titled. The sound was rich and the volume loud.

I don’t think it was possible to be at this show and not feel like you witnessed something special. But those of us who really poured ourselves into Graveyard’s set left the Bootleg with a lasting mark or two, whether it was a bruised kneecap, a renewed faith in good music selling out a good-sized venue, or simply the reverb of the blues in our ears. There’s something about this band that brings you into whatever world they’re in, and holds you there.

— Julia Neuman

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HEAR GRAVEYARD

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The Making of Graveyard’s Hisingen Blues

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BUY HISINGEN BLUES

Nuclear Blast USA (CD, orange or blue LP)

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