I managed to get to the 5th Quarter Lounge right as the night’s show featuring Canadian metal legends Anvil was about to begin. The turnout was a little less crammed than I had anticipated, but as a regular at the venue, I saw plenty of familiar faces and knew that enough people were there to give the bands the extra hit of energy that every performer craves. While Sacred Leather dropping off the bill for reasons unknown was a slight disappointment, the three bands that remained put on strong enough performances to fill any void.
The first band on the bill was a local group by the name of Steed. This was my first time seeing them, as they have only recently started playing shows, but they were pretty tight for such a newly formed unit. Though their style was a little tricky to pinpoint in the live setting; one could hear traces of thrash and sludge metal in the harsh vocals, tight drums, and faster tempos. It’ll be interesting to see how these guys develop with more experience under their belt.
Against the Grain of Detroit, Michigan took the stage next and showed everyone just why they are a steady supporting act for several dates on Anvil’s current tour. While I am personally unfamiliar with the band’s three studio albums, they had the most powerful set of the night and may have actually gotten the strongest crowd reaction as well. Standing at the crossroads of rock, punk, and metal in a way similar to classic Motorhead makes for an inherently energetic sound, but the band’s relentless charisma pushes it to an even higher level live. Definitely a band for newcomers to take cues from when attempting to perfect their stage presence.
Of course, no one there was truly going to steal Anvil’s thunder anytime soon. If Against the Grain was the most impressive band of the night, then Anvil was at least the most entertaining. When you factor in the near forty years of existence as a band, it’s clear that the band has their comedic quirks down to a science. Drummer Robb Reiner proved himself to be one of the most underrated timekeepers in metal while guitarist/vocalist Lips Kudlow and bassist/backing vocal Chris Robertson constantly moved about the stage executing rock star choreography and often awkward banter with a good dose of tongue in cheek self deprecation. The documentary was referenced a couple times, Lips brought the vibrator out for “Mothra,” and they covered “Born To Be Wild” to appease the folks calling out for an encore.
All jokes aside, what keeps Anvil from feeling like a complete farce at this stage of their career is their musicianship and the passion they still exert when performing. A sizable majority of the setlist consisted of the staples from Metal On Metal and Forged In Fire, but the band never seemed to be phoning them in, and they put the same amount of care into songs both old and new. Crowd participation was incited on “Badass Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Metal On Metal,” doofy topical musings proceeded “Winged Assassins” and “Daggers and Rum,” and the guitar solo on “Mothra” and the drum solo on “Swing Thing” were treated with equal amounts of reverence. Whether you like Anvil’s music or not, that dedication is worth admiring.
“March of the Crabs”
“Badass Rock ‘n’ Roll”
“Free As The Wind”
“Daggers And Rum”
“This Is Thirteen”
“Mothra” (With Extended Guitar Solo)
“Swing Thing” (With Extended Drum Solo)
“Die For A Lie”
“Metal On Metal”
“Born To Be Wild” (Steppenwolf Cover)