By Bradley Barnes
They say nothing is new under the sun, and if you’ve kept an eye on pop culture, you’ve probably noticed how trends come and go in cycles. On Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, the audience at Barracuda in Austin were transported to a different era musically. Swedish retro-metal outfit Graveyard were joined by Austin locals Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad, who are best described as surf-rock from Hell, creating a night of loud, but endearingly old-school hard rock.
While the lineup consisted of only two bands, that proved to be plenty of rock and roll for the crowd, which was a pretty decent size, considering it was a weeknight. Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad got things started off with a twangy, hybrid sound that mixes surf rock, garage, a little bit of punk and good old-fashioned hard rock.
Playing tunes off of their debut EP, Fever Dreamin’, Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad maintained an energetic and playful mood, with vocalist Will Reynolds cracking jokes and even running into the crowd with his wireless guitar at one point. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re a psychobilly band, there are certainly elements of that present, from the twangy guitars, 50s B-movie lyrics. Guitarist Cameron Wren was even sporting a pretty impressive pompadour.
The crowd continued to grow throughout the band’s set, so by the time they were done, the outdoor stage area was getting pretty packed. If you’ve been to a live show on a weeknight in Austin, you’ll know how impressive a feat that actually is, even with a headliner like Graveyard to boast in the lineup. As the stage-crew setup, you could feel the excitement running through the crowd, with an almost electric tingling.
As the crowd erupted in cheers and applause, Graveyard ripped right into a number of tracks off of their most recent long-player, Peace. While Graveyard can certainly be classified as heavy metal, their sound is distinctly 70s-influenced, with hints of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, and Cream.
The members all looked like they arrived onstage from a time machine, with long hair, boots, and lead vocalist Joakim Nilsson rocked a Tony Iommi-esque mustache. While the volume was really high, the music wasn’t overwhelmingly heavy, and I truly believe fans of heavy metal that have been listening since the genre’s genesis (basically before there was actually a genre name for it) would have enjoyed this show.
The newer tunes were received enthusiastically, but it was clear which tracks were the crowd favorites, when the energy got turned up to 11 during “Hisingen Blues”, off the album of the same name. Even the slower numbers, like “Uncomfortably Numb”, had the crowd absolutely captivated.
For nearly an hour and a half, Graveyard had the crowd practically eating out of their hands. Usually, when a band leaves the stage to prepare for an encore, you see at least a handful of people make their way to the exit. Not so with this crowd. Not a single soul moved, as they anxiously awaited the Swedish rockers’ return to the stage.
Despite it being a fairly early night (thanks in part to the curfew), everyone walked away from the venue still buzzing about the great show. Billy King & The Bad Bad Bad and Graveyard combined efforts to cover a lot of sonic territory, and I daresay there was a little something for everybody (at least the rock crowd).
Featured image by Bradley Barnes.