Recap of the first Metal Night at the State Theatre

Wow what a night for local metal! Friday the 20th of August 2010 was the first metal night at the State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia and it was a pretty fun time. Four local bands played, Invader, Croatoan, King Giant and Timelord, and the event was organized by an employee of the State Theatre, Alan Margazano. Since this was the first of hopefully many local metal nights at the State Theatre, I didn’t really know what to expect. Word from management was that if they could sell 200 tickets the night would be considered a financial success and more metal nights would be scheduled in the future. This meant that it was important that people actually came out to this event and showed that there is a real interest in metal in the area. There was no way that I was going to miss this call for local metal heads to assemble, even if I wasn’t running this blog I’d have gone.

I got there at about 8:15 and the first band, Invader, had already started playing. I didn’t know if there would be like 20 people there when I walked in or what, but there was already at least 75 people inside the venue at that point. Invader had also recently played at the Blood And Fire Festival in July (you can read my review of that here) but they had played before I arrived then. I’m glad I got to see them this time, they put on a fun set of thrashy death metal including a cover a Slayer‘s crowd pleasing classic Raining Blood where the vocalist and drummer switched roles. Even if you don’t include the cover, their set consisted of a lot of mosh-friendly riffs and a ton of raw energy coming from the stage. You could tell they were having a lot of fun and were happy to be playing. Their set was long enough you could get a good idea of what they were about, and they were a great band to start off the event on a high note.

The next band up was Croatoan. I didn’t know much about these guys. They weren’t bad, but they seemed to have not really found their sound yet. Different songs seemed to be in different genres. One more more death oriented, one more traditional thrash, another doom. Don’t get me wrong, they were fun to watch, and they were certainly having fun entertaining the audience. Their vocalist, Emil Poss, had a good banter with the crowd going between songs, and they didn’t lose my interest through their entire set either. I just think a more defined direction would help these guys out. There’s certainly room for them to grow and I look forward to seeing them again in the future to see how they’ve progressed. They did get the pit going a few times, and I have to admit it was kind of surreal seeing a circle pit at the State Theatre.

After Croatoan played there was a long break before the next band, King Giant, started. This made it a good time to get a beer and/or order food from the bar. There wasn’t a whole lot of food to chose from on the menu, pretty standard burgers and fries (there was a veggie burger too) with the only thing a little different being the hummus. I’ve got a pic of the menu here if you want to check it out. The beer menu was certainly more filled out, though there were a couple draft beers that had run out. They did have a decent selection of bottled beer too, including a couple non-alcoholic options, as well as a fully stocked liquor bar too. You can check out the picture I shot of the beer list here. After each band played they’d hide the stage with a movie screen that dropped down and displayed various images on the screen. Often logos for the band playing next, or a funny images from the internet. They would also play samples of music by metal bands selling merch in the back of the room. These were local bands who weren’t playing this evening, but were hoping to play future metal nights. The upstairs balcony seating was closed, so people were confined to the downstairs main floor, which had tables as well as a standing room only pit area directly in front of the stage. Alan would get up on stage before each band played and introduce them as the movie screen raised up behind him revealing the next act.

When King Giant hit the stage the venue was really alive. They had the largest draw of the evening and probably should have been playing last. I won’t get into a long description of the band and their sound here, I reviewed them playing at the 9:30 Club three weeks ago and you can read that here if you want that. In short their sound is a very polished and distinctly southern heavy metal. They have a clear vision of their sound and they bring it to the stage very well, this night being no exception. They were a bit different in sound than the rest of the bands playing, but I think that’s great. Part of the draw of Metal Night, at least for me, is seeing a mixture of bands from different sub-genres exposing each other’s fans to new music they wouldn’t have heard before. I’m sure there were some people who didn’t like the sound as much, there always is, but I talked to several people who were impressed with King Giant and they certainly won some new fans this night. Their set wasn’t as long as it had been at the 9:30 Club, but it still had fan favorites like Solace and Mississippi River in there. In all, it was another good live performance by one of the area’s best unsigned metal bands.

Next up was the final band of the night, Timelord. I’ve seen them on the calendar opening for bands at Jaxx before, but never gotten the chance to see them. Alan introduced them as an Iron Maiden influenced band and he wasn’t kidding. Vocalist Matt Aub certainly has a likeness to Bruce Dickenson in his vocal tone, though he is also playing guitar while singing. These guys definitely knew how to play their instruments and their set was full of killer guitar solos and even a drum solo at one point. I think calling them Maiden influenced thrashy power metal would probably best describe them. Unfortunately, power metal isn’t my favorite metal sub genre and while their set wasn’t bad by any means, it was probably better suited to fans of the genre more than myself. The songs didn’t have a lot of variation, which isn’t always a bad thing, but when paired with my lack of interest in power metal I found myself getting distracted and talking to people. Fans of old school heavy metal, NWOBHM, and power metal in general would probably enjoy these guys a lot more than I did. At one point a couple of the guys from Invader showed up on stage with them and started headbanging. After their final song, Cult Of The Dead, people were chanting for them to play more but the movie screen started lowering and people knew the concert was over.

The first metal night ended a few minutes shy of midnight. Afterwards Alan announced over the PA system that the night had been a success and the next “Monthly” Metal Night at the State Theatre would be held in October. The event was hell of a lot of fun, and I spent a good amount of time talking to people. Throughout the night I saw a lot of familiar faces from the area’s metal scene and got the chance to meet some new people and bands too. I picked up some new music and also got to check out some bands play that I’d never seen before. On my way out the door Alan told me over 230 tickets had been sold, plenty more than the 200 needed to ensure more metal nights at the State Theatre in the future. They’ve got a big stage with great lights and a good sound system too, it’s very cool that they’re giving real metal a chance to use it. It’s really amazing that this all came together from it’s beginnings as a Facebook group page (join it here for updates on future metal nights). They’re already starting the search for the next event’s band line up and you can make suggestions for that here. I’d like to see more genres represented at the next one, maybe some black and doom and a bit less thrash. Also, you can check out videos I shot of each of the four bands who played at the end of this post and view the photos I’ve posted here. The event’s turn out was good and while Alan deserves a lot of credit for putting this all together as well as the bands who played, all the people who got off their asses and came out and bought tickets for a night of local metal deserve a big thanks for making it not only possible but successful enough to ensure another metal night. Lets keep this ball rolling and get even more people to come out to the next one on October!

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