The Southern Café and Music Hall
On a cold Saturday night in Charlottesville, VA, three heavy bands hit the stage at one of the region’s best venues. There is a spot outside the music area to socialize, grab food, and speak at a normal volume. In the music hall, there is cool lighting and one of the best, most balanced sound systems I’ve heard in the last few years. All of this in historic downtown Charlottesville. The staff was courteous and helpful, even when they had to respond to the drunk guy who got on stage and made an ass of himself. This is one of the nicest venues in the area and I hope they get more Metal shows like the one this past Saturday.
- Scott Hensley – Low Bass/Growls
- Pat Jarrett – High Bass/Growls
- Maggie Worthington –Lead Vocals
- Joe Frazier – Drums
- Going Nowhere Slow
- Stoned 2 Tha Bone
- A History Of Bad Men (Melvins cover)
- Heaven’s Golden Gate’s
- Wake Up Little Maggie (Doc Watson cover)
First up was Heemayer. They describe their sound as low and slow, but that is not entirely true. There was both of those, but there was also some “faster Doom,” that new breed meant to add more catchy hooks and leave room for solid breakdowns. Their first four songs were as a three-piece. Considering there is not a guitarist, Pat acts as the primary lead. It’s listed as High Bass, but that just means he spends more time on the high end playing his bass like a lead guitar, though Scott can shred also. They trade off vocals and both are growlers, each with their own unique tone. Then they bring Maggie up and shit gets real.
Maggie is a Folk music buff who recently got hooked on Metal. Now, she’s singing in a Doom band, but not as a Folk singer. She has this gritty, distorted delivery that is a fantastic fit for the band. It is freaking awesome to see a female lead vocalist in a Doom band. I’m sure she is not the only one, but she is the only one I’ve seen. She just brought something different to the table and it escalated the whole show. The energy was already at a fever pitch before she took the mic, but it ramped up even more when she started singing.
She has a real Punk attitude. She thrashed, headbanged, yelled, and fist-pumped, getting the crowd stoked up. The crowd, many of whom did not know this band, were actively engaged. Kyah, some random woman at the show, even told Pat her favorite song was “Crucifixion.” Pat was so happy she listened actively enough to choose a favorite that he grinned like a kid after getting his first kiss for about an hour afterward. My personal favorite was “Dover,” mostly because of one note Maggie hit that really resonated with me. It was a head voice scream that just struck a perfect chord for her.
The most impressive song, though, was “Wake Up Little Maggie.” They took a Folk song and made it half acapella, half Doom. I know that is hard to picture, but it is a thing and it is freaking awesome! The crowd dug it and many commented on it afterwards. They need to get a friend to film them doing that at a rehearsal and get it on YouTube. That way, you can hear for yourself how Folk can go Doom.
- Stephen Sullivan – Guitar/Vocals
- Brian Carnes – Bass/Vocals
- Andy Murray – Drums/Vocals
- Jumping Jack Flash (Rolling Stones cover)
- Onyx Stone
- Cop-Ache (Melvins cover)
- Spyder Byte
I saw this band play last week and fell in love with their live energy. They did it again. It helps that there was a good crowd and they were already pumped from the first band. Last week, they did a Genesis cover, this week, they did two; one from The Rolling Stones and one from the Melvins. Their version of “Jumping Jack Flash” was a lot of fun and all the older people (and a few younger ones) were all singing along, myself included.
They adjusted their setlist, moving songs around from the previous show. Either one works for me because they end up doing all my favorites. Personally, I love “Ghost” and “Onyx Stone.” Two tracks where they show off their harmonizing vocals to the best effect, in my opinion. With all three capable of singing, they manage to work counterpart and harmonized voices into many of their songs and damn it makes them sound excellent. I love it when a band has multiple voices they can use to fit different moods in the music.
Blazoner is fast, heavy Doom influenced by Thrash among other styles. They use intricate guitar leads over nasty riffs, the bass takes on a rhythm guitar style and occasionally does lead fills and short solos. The drums range from slow and melodic to fast and frenetic. One of the best parts is that they sound as good, if not better, live. Their debut album, Escape To Electric Land, was recently released and I was lucky enough to get to review it (https://www.metal-zenith.com/2023/12/25/blazoner-escape-to-electric-land/). Give it a listen and see if you agree with me.
Blazoner ended up with a mosh pit forming during the last two songs. It was one of the good pits, you know where people help up someone who falls and pit etiquette is observed and people have fun. Heemeyer set the challenge and Blazoner took it up a notch, setting the stage for the final act.
- Calloway Jones – Vocals/Guitars
- Niko Cvetanovich – Bass/Vocals
- Jimmy Czywczynskii – Drums
- Righteous Man
- Rape Of The Poor
- Backyard BBQ Bonanza
- Eye Of The Storm
- Change My Name
- Skin Grafter
- Year Of The Hog
- Supreme Truth
Uga Buga took the stage knowing they needed to deliver. Jokingly, they said they could not top the first two bands, so they just turned up the volume. That will never hurt a true metal fan’s feelings. More than anything, Uga Buga brought a massive energy level to the stage and tore through their set with purpose and determination. They brought the Doom, Stoner, Heavy, and Thrash Metal out, giving the crowd a wild ride of a show.
One fan got a real ride; out of the venue. This dude got on stage and basically molested Calloway. Niko had to start the process of getting the guy off stage, then the venue security got involved and just put the guy out. That kind of stuff is annoying and can derail a show. Fortunately, Uga Buga just picked up where they left off and the crowd got straight back into the show. It was a disruptive few minutes, but the band handled it well and the end result was the show went on, just as good as it was up to that point.
Uga Buga ended the night on a high note and the whole evening had an almost magical feel to it. All three bands played their collective hearts out. Each band brought fire and energy. When the headliner has to work that hard because the openers were that good, the fans are the ultimate winners.
When all was said and done on stage, the fans congregated near the merch table talking with the bands and each other. Many discussed who they thought had the best set. Some talked about the various songs they heard. Merch was flying off the table. That is probably the most active I’ve seen the merch table at a local show in a long time. Some sizes sold out. People took stickers and pictures with the bands. That tells me I wasn’t the only one feeling the magic in the air.
Part of what I love about local shows and smaller venues is how personal you can get with the bands. I got to tell Maggie that I think she is one of the more unique and badass women in Metal right now because she brings more than just metal to the band. I got to tell new Blazoner fans who bought the CD about which songs to check out based on my personal preferences. I got to see Uga Buga come off the stage sweaty and tired, but with huge smiles on their faces, only to see the band mom getting swarmed at the merch table. I love watching bands, but I also like watching and chatting with the fans. There is a passion people feel when they know the band or get to know them. As much as I love a cool arena tour with great stage shows and iconic songs, I’ll take local over that any day.
SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC AND THE VENUES THAT GIVE IT TO US!!!!!!
Again, thanks to The Southern for letting us get our Metal hearts beating and providing us with as safe a space as they can.