Every year, for the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to host various stages, and, in addition to their emcee obligations, we ask them to pull double duty (or triple-duty in some cases) and also write up the acts that appear on their individual stages. Brad Lopez hosted the stage at Broadways. Page down to read his thoughts. (Note: Through a regrettable mishap on our part, we ended up without photos from Broadways any other than the ones posted. If you have any shots you'd like to share, send them to us, and we'll get them added.)
The best part of the Westword Music Showcase is seeing the diversity of people who come out to see bands from genres they probably wouldn't otherwise be inclined to check out. Broadways regulars were first stunned by how loud the band was but slowly started to headbang as Iconocaust tore through two new tracks, "Devil to Believe" and "Fall From Grace," the English-translation title track from their new EP, Excidium de Gratia. Because of technical issues, though, those were the only songs Iconocaust played. The rest was basically an acoustic blues jam while the band waited for those issues to be sorted out.
The ratio of girls to guys died down for Speedwolf, but that didn't stop stop the dedicated female fans from moshing to the band's jams, which are often compared to Motorhead. The band played their own take on one Judas Priest song as well, which they facetiously announced would be "the next four songs," since every band was playing shorter sets after technical issues delayed Iconocaust. Despite the joke, they still played a Thin Lizzy cover and ended with the classic, "Denver 666."
The crowd got bigger as bands which played previously and bands still waiting to play started showing up. Broadway's regulars heckled the non-metalhead regulars with cries of "chicken!" towards those who could no longer deal with the noise and made their way for the door. Although the venue's acoustics weren't designed for metal bands, Vale of Pnath's vocals were crystal clear, as was the instrumental work of the rest of the band. The bar was three quarters full of old and new fans by the end of the five song set.
In between sets, a Planned Parenthood volunteer was outside handing out free condoms. Some people got one, others got two, leaving folks to wonder if there was some kind of bias at work. The condom handouts seemed appropriate considering the ratio of fans for No Fair Fights was roughly seven guys to every one girl in the audience -- a figure not out of the ordinary for a metal show. No Fair Fights' melodic brand of metal featured less screaming and stuck to fast rhythms, and half-time drums fewer breakdowns .
After being facetiously introduced as Trapt, IAMTHESHOTGUN took the stage with virtually no room for fans to mosh in front of the stage. And, while this undermined the crowd's reaction to IATS's strong hardcore/death metal influence, the sizable crowd was nevertheless great for IATS's exposure to a potentially unfamiliar Showcase crowd, which should only help the upcoming release of the band's full-length album, .
Lords of Fuzz carried a much slower tempo, more rock than a hardcore or metal sound. The band's set inspired more head-bobbing than head-banging. At this point, the crowd was about at its peak, meaning Broadway's was as hot inside as the 100 degree weather outside. The singer requested to see "young-girl titties" as well as "man-titties" in the middle of the set, but was denied. Too bad. It would have been an opportune time for the throng to shed clothes in the heat and cool off a bit.
Female-fronted metal and hard rock bands face an uphill challenge: Not only do they have to prove their worth in music, they have to dissuade the notion that a female singer is more than a gimmick. Lola Black set out to prove just that with songs that alternated between clean guitar melodies and heavy, distorted parts, creating an intense sound more akin to punk than metal or hard rock.
Lola intertwined singing with screaming to create a sound just edgy enough for the metal crowd but still appreciable by mainstream rock fans, which helps explain why the band is in regular rotation and in the top-ten on KBPI. Lola Black was the first band on this stage to utilize a keyboard, but it could barely be heard through the now nearly full-capacity Broadway's crowd.
By the time MF Ruckus took stage, Lola Black's crowd had mostly cleared out, leaving MFR plenty of room to do what they do best: party! Where other bands playing this stage might take their music very seriously, this bluesy rock band with metal guitar riffs is strictly out to have fun. They're the perfect band to play at a house party, in a basement or any place they can find to rock out.
MF Ruckus parties so much they even invited the crowd to join them in toasting "piping hot" whiskey at their van after the set. Though the band's official name is MF Ruckus, the group made sure it was introduced as "Motherfucking Ruckus." In between songs, they parodied fundamentalist Christians as the singer used a mock-southern accent to describe their stances as "Neo-Apocalyptic Christians" who worship the Mad Max movies and kill zombies.
'Yeah, we practice," commented Zebroids' guitarist sarcastically after their second two-minute long punk-style track. Like MF Ruckus, the Zebroids also pride themselves in how lightly they take their act, even making fun of their own name. Had the crowd not been so dehydrated from drinking in the stuffy Broadway's bar or outside in the equally hot or hotter outside patio, there might have been more activity, but Zebroids played so late in the lineup, spectators were clearly fatigued. Since Zebroids' songs were so fast, they were able to fit in twice as many songs as any of the other bands, and the crowd had a great time, even if they were just a little drowsy.
The crowd reawakened for Il Cattivo, the last band of the day. Playing a well-polished, well-rehearsed set, the group had the stage presence and aesthetic of early '90s grunge updated with just a hint of metal and so reenergized the crowd that the bar was busy again and people were hitting their second wind, headbanging, fist pumping and gathering in front of the stage like it was 1:00 p.m. again.
-- Brad Lopez
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