Chicago Doom Outfit Earthen Grave Makes Surprise Visit to Austin
Earthen Grave drove south from Chicago to play shows in New Orleans and Dallas. Unfortunately, the NOLA show was canceled on Thursday, which led to an impromptu performance in Austin made possible by Hipsterectomy. The local crossover crushers invited Earthen Grave to play their CD release show at Trophy’s.
Due to the punk-heavy lineup, in many ways Earthen Grave’s performance was akin to The Obsessed opening for hardcore bands in Washington D.C., circa the early ‘80s. This was Hipsterectomy’s show, but the band offered Earthen Grave the headlining spot. Even though Earthen Grave features former Trouble member Ron Holzner, the crowd mostly consisted of locals who had come out to see their friends play. Once Earthen Grave took the stage, most of the crowd filtered out.
The opening bands found support through their friends and fans and in turn provided support to Earthen Grave. There was more room in the pit and Earthen Grave didn’t begin until after 1 AM, but this didn’t stop members of openers Ditch Witch and Hipsterectomy from giving a strong response. They knew they were witnessing greatness and the late time couldn’t contain their combustible energy. Violent head banging and thrashing culminated when a pair of moshers fell on top of Jason Muxlow’s guitar pedal board. One of these moshers, the curly-haired guitarist from Ditch Witch—the sound guy compared his look to Danny Lilker—tried reconnecting some of the wires he and his friend accidentally knocked out of Muxlow’s rig while Muxlow continued to pick his guitar.
Without violinist, Rachel Barton Pine, Earthen Grave conveyed a much fiercer, stripped down sound—an approach that worked well with the punk-oriented crowd. The twin ax assault of Jason Muxlow and Tony Spillman became more apparent than on the group’s self-titled debut. The group also featured up-tempo tracks such as “Death on the High Seas” and “Fall In,” while over looking the melody-laden “Earthen Grave." This is not to say that the band’s melodic side was not explored. “Blood Drunk” required the band to slow down and present his softer side. A couple slow danced and front man Mark Weiner dedicated the track to all the ladies—which seemed sardonic because the lyrics are about killing a wayward lover. Weiner told the crowd to “slow mosh” in reference to the stomping, marching movements of “Dismal Times”
Earthen Grave played a tremendous cover of Witchfinder General’s “Burning a Sinner" and opened with their rendition of Pentagram’s “Relentless.” Their set was only thirty-five to forty minutes. They left out three or four songs from their album, but added Black Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave” as an encore. Leaving a few songs out of their set probably offers variation from set to set. The group’s live approach lacked the atmosphere of the album, including Weiner’s sweet vocal timbre, but the stripped down, aggressive side shown probably worked better in the live arena. Seeing Earthen Grave for the first time was a treat for everyone in the audience. I just hope that the next time leads to a bigger crowd, on a bigger stage with a better sound man (he didn't know how to apply reverb to Weiner's vocals) and with violinist in tow.
For visual evidence of the show, click this link.
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