Raven, Night Demon, The Whisky, October 20, 2014
The Dream of the 80s is alive, not in Portland, nor at the Inferno, but live at the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.
I’ve been hearing great things about this band from Ventura called Night Demon. My friends have been raving about them, saying that bands like this make it fun to go to thrash shows again. When I saw the totally awesome tour poster reminiscent of the Raven/Metallica Kill Em All For One tour posters in 83/84, with Night Demon replacing Metallica in the opening slot, I was excited in a way that made me believe I was going to experience something that I missed in the early 80s. I knew the Night Demon was a quality act and Raven is just legendary. I was not going to miss this show.
Being the 40-something fan-boy that I am, I show up early with my records and a sharpie. As I arrive I first run into Raven drummer Joe Hasselvander hanging out front. We are both from Washington, DC and have a few friends in common. I told him the first time I saw Raven was at the Warner Theatre in DC where they were opening for W.A.S.P. He told me he was at that show too. Then at the end of that tour the original drummer Wacko! quit. This is when Joe was asked to join. A few minutes later John Gallagher, the vocalist/bassist joins us. I introduce the band to the Highwire Daze staff members who are also arriving on the scene. Ken from Highwire Daze has the band do a couple station IDs for the website. John gets into character as he reads the script into the microphone. It was really touching to see other fans asking the band to sign their records. One kid had John authenticate an autographed record that was purchased on eBay. There are two kinds of people in this world, ones who love Raven and those who just haven’t really discovered them yet. The show hasn’t even started and I’m just stoked to be hanging out with these guys.
Apparently this tour has been a lot like the Social Distortion/Youth Brigade tour from the Another State of Mind documentary of the early 80s. Except these guys aren’t teenagers anymore. I’ve been following the band’s FB updates about vans breaking down and needing repairs. I was chatting with the merch guy, Richard at the merch booth and joked with him, “So you’re the roadie?” He said, “They carry my stuff!” So this kind of paints a picture of what was happing here. Four men over age 50 touring the States and Canada in a broken down tour bus acting as their own road crew. These guys are punk as fuck!
Night Demon hits the stage literally minutes after being interviewed by Ken from Highwire Daze. THANKS SO MUCH GUYS!! They killed it. If you hate that Hot Topic exists, then you will be relieved to know that Night Demon does too. These guys bring fun back into Satanism. But it’s no joke. These guys are not a parody of 80s thrash, they are just younger dudes who for some reason are not at the Van’s Warped tour and are ripping through some kick ass songs about Satan and such. Definitely check them out when you can.
Next up, the mighty Raven. I’ve been a fan since the early 80s. I had their patch on my jean jacket in middle school. So yeah, this review will be biased. Fuck it. When the term Athletic Rock is coined because of your band and you want to continue that band well into your 50s, then you’ve got gumption. I love that these guys are still out there doing it. Their music and enthusiasm still has all the super-hyper energy it had when I first saw them in the mid 80s. John’s vocals are just as strong as ever and honestly, I never noticed how awesome Joe’s drumming was until this show. Such great fills and consistency and no triggers! These guys came from a time when musicians had to actually be good at their craft- a time before triggers and auto-tune. I was hoping to hear a few songs from the latest Walk Through Fire record but they stuck to a strictly vintage set. The classics, plus a few cool teasers from the new cover album called Party Killers. They do a great impression of Budgie.
I really enjoyed the math-rock persistent false-start section of the set. They were fucking around starting what sounded like the Raven songs but they would abruptly stop after a few seconds and false start another one. Just keeping us on our toes. Interestingly, it illustrated how well these guys can burst with energy from using just a few beats of a drum and a simple guitar riff. The Walk Through Fire record really illustrates their talent for song writing too. I highly recommend it. Great production, too. I stayed for the entire show, even though I had to work the next day! It was a great show. They played a good long set with extended guitar and bass solos. I look forward to more music and concerts from these guys for years to come. Which reminds me, if YOU want to hear more music from these guys, help fund their next record by going to www.ravenlunatics.com and contribute to their Kickstarter campaign from now till November 29th 2014.
(Review and Album Photo by Rich Dolinger – Live Photos by Jack Lue)
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