It’s not a good year until the Graveface Roadshow rolls through town. Graveface Records, formally located in Chicago and now stationed in Savanah Ga., puts out the most eclectic and enjoyable music today. Curated by owner Ryan Graveface, the label strives to make a community of like-minded artists and fans. The Graveface Roadshow brings all the elements together for what always feels like love fest of great people and amazing music. Typically the roadshow is entirely made up of acts associated directly with the label, fostering the community the small and resilient label has created. This time around at Subterranean, The Graveface Roadshow was joined by Maritime, making for the strange combination you’d expect from one of their shows.
Maritime acted as the headliner and had quite the set. I’m mostly familiar with the early Maritime, listening to their second album nonstop when it came out. Since then the band has grown, shifting their sound from jangly pop sounds to more indie rock jams. Davey von Bohlen started the show barely interacting with the crowd, instead focusing his attention on the music.
That however slowly but steadily started to change as he and the rest of the band began letting loose and joking around with the crowd. Diehard fans packed the front of the Subterranean and one couple in particular was given the spotlight. Right in the middle of the set, von Bohlen put the entire venues attention on them, and let the couple have a special moment as they got engaged amidst the cheering crowd.
Irish band Dott made their Chicago debut at the Roadshow and were exuberant as their songs. The band has evolved into a two piece band this year with Anna McCarthy still leading the charge. Backed by bandmate Evan and a computer full of backing band sounds, McCarthy performed new songs, which I certainly hope means more music from the band, as well as fair share of Dott’s first album Swoon. “Leave Tonight” of that album was one of the brightest highlights of the night with McCarthy’s voice reaching its most endearing heights.
Stardeath and White Dwarfs took the middle spot of the Graveface Roadshow portion of the night and effectively melted my face. The Oklahoma foursome satiated the crowd with a loud wave of psychedelic vibes that were loud and distorted like any good psych sounds should be. Every song surged as frontman Dennis Coyne is explosive performer, allowing the music to take him over. Barefooted and full of energy, Coyne belted out dizzying lyrics with a wonderful intensity, at one point falling to his knees in a fit of pure psych ecstasy. There wasn’t a single moment where he and the band weren’t full devoted to churning out masterful tunes.
The Casket Girls’ were the last Graveface associated group and made their spot count. Phaedra and Elsa Greene, along with band mate Ryan Gravefave and Stardeath’s touring drummer Hank Hanewinkel III, took to the stage and had the whole crowd in the palm of their hands with in moments. They both exude a very inviting and commanding stage presence. They started their set by declaring their “intention of peace and love”, as affirmation that the crowd was more than willing to hold high as The Casket Girls dove into “Chemical Dizzy”.
Many of the elements of their previous shows were peppered throughout their performance, but they never felt old. The Casket Girls’ stage presence has been honed to near perfection since the first time I saw them a year or so ago. At that time I described them as a living breathing art piece, but they are clearly more than that. If anything their synchronized dance moves have became even more mystifying, enhancing their beautiful voices and instilling an invigorating sense of flawlessness. Their new songs of their latest album The Night Machines only added to their inherent grace. “Sixteen Forever” and “24 Hours” held together the middle of the set, proving how their talents just continue to improve.
Artist Chloe Pinnock, who has contributed to quite a few Graveface related projects, joined The Casket Girls for a few songs. Her addition felt natural and added to the feeling of family among the label. It’s that comradery that makes the Graveface so alluring and fun. The band kept up that sentiment as they drew portraits of one another and giving them to fans. I honestly can’t think of a band that is as connected to atmosphere of their shows as The Casket Girls. At one point Elsa and Phaedra hugged each other and trekked out all over the venue, embracing as many of the adoring fans as they could. It brought to mind The Casket Girls’ declaration of peace and love and just how amazing they are at showing it.
All photos by Julian Ramirez