So it was with mild trepidation that my friend Jess (yes, the Jess from Memphis Vegan Road Trip Odyssey 2012 fame) and I headed off in sleeting mid-March conditions to see my camera guy/editor Brendan play with his band at Mojo13 in Wilmington. His band, Daimonic Grey, plays progressive metal music, and last night, they were on the bill along with 5 other opening acts, all supporting the main act, a Brazilian band called Soulfly.
I need to give this adventure some context. Although I talk a lot (A LOT), I’m not a loud person, and the lyrical and musical rage expressed in metal music is not something that I find particularly resonant. I play acoustic guitar because electric is too loud; I garden; I ride a singlespeed mountain bike, in part because I love the enchanting silence of its gear-free whoosh. So a night filled with loud, athletic music and people who appreciate such music had me understandably worried. But I really wanted to support Brendan, and I also really wanted to see him play.
Jess and I arrived early and were promptly scolded just inside the door of Mojo13 by a mean ticket-selling man. Obviously, my big friendly smile and glasses pegged me as a troublemaker, and he wanted to make sure I stayed in line during the evening’s festivities.
So I immediately got a drink at the bar. According to my research, the Mojo13 bartenders enjoy making “surprise drinks,” so that’s what I requested. I got a glass of something blue that tasted mostly like a margarita, and I soon forgot the mirthless machinations of the bald guy at the door.
The first band, the Seeds of Perdition, finished setting up and let rip some ear-bleeding power chords. The lead singer started spinning his waist-length hair around and prowling through the audience while he sang, throwing back his head to release a low, guttural sound that offered a strangely human counterpoint to the screeching guitar. Jess and I kept looking at each other, both afraid to be the first to admit it.
It was freaking awesome.
Pretty much all music is at its best live, and metal is no different. The competing energies of the guitar and bass, along with the raging vocals, made for an incredibly visceral experience. I really had no idea.
Mojo13, as a place and as a venue, has a lot of character. It’s easy to pick out from the road because of the terrifying giant red clown face on the front of the building. Clearly, this is a place with its own culture and rules. At one point, Jess and I returned to the bar to find a carefully placed placard with an Andy Warhol-style cat playing a keyboard. I thought it might be some type of code.
Me: What’s this mean?
Brendan: I dunno, I’ve never been dealt the cat card.
Jess: How do we find out?
Me: Well, I know I’m not going to ask the bald guy at the door.
Anyway, what a fun evening. We stayed for all the bands except Soulfly, hung out with Brendan, and totally enjoyed the vibe of the place and the people. What a great start to Spring Break week!