Metalheads from Bakersfield and beyond did not hold back in showing their devotion to the ghastly gods of rock when Swedish horror metal act Ghost took the stage at Rabobank (now Mechanics Bank Arena, Theater and Convention Center) on Sept. 13.
And while the term "heavy metal" may loosely apply to most of the band’s music, it wasn’t all angry headbanging and mosh-pitting. Not even close.
Let’s start with the crowds gathered in the arena lobby. Dressed in tour shirts from the band's various global treks, fans snaked around from each side of the walkway patiently waiting for their turn to buy the latest batch of merch of T-shirts, banners, hoodies, etc. All emblazoned with "Ghost" across the front.
"It’s funny how this crowd has been way more polite than any country crowd I’ve seen here," said Taylor Unruh, guitarist for local country music celebs Truxton Mile, who attended the show his brother, Trent.
I agree. A full harvest moon on Friday the 13th? So much for the "freaks come out at night."
Not to say the crowd was devoid of its share of spooky characters. Over by the merch tables, a pair of young women in nun costumes and ghoulish white makeup were chitchatting and posing for photos, while teenagers accompanied by their parents stuck close together as they engaged in some preshow people-watching.
I missed the opening act Nothing More, but, according to Unruh, they were amazing. I’ll take his word for it.
Before showtime, back-to-back devotional tracks helped set the mood and call fans to their seats. Following some final production stage crew scrambling, it was lights out and curtain drop to reveal multilevel stage structures, backed with a ceiling-high backdrop imagery resembling stained-glass cathedral windows.
Opening with “Ashes” and “Rats” from the band’s latest album, “Prequelle,” the band’s masked members, known as Nameless Ghouls, accompanied by their keyboardists, the Ghoulettes, and lead vocalist Tobias Forge, took fans through a selection of tracks from across their four-album discography plus two new live debuts (“Mary on a Cross,” “Kiss the Go-Goat”) from the group’s new “Seven Inches of Satanic Panic” double A-single.
As pure spectacle, Ghost spared no expense onstage. Shrouded in the lights and heat, each band member strutted, ran, danced and shook onstage song after song even as Forge left the stage to change and re-emerge in various costumes as his Cardinal Copia character without missing a beat. Musically, this is a seasoned unit of top players who combine glam rock shredding with dark metal chord progressions to engage the crowd. The brief appearance by a saxophone-wielding Papa Nihil at the top of the stairs brought extra loud cheers from the crowd who sang loudly along with each song.
Even as the band delved into some of its earlier, darker works, the blend of theater and macabre was like being on the set of a classic European horror film. Closing strong with two of their most melodic hits, “Danse Macabre” and “Square Hammer,” the band remained onstage for an extended thank-you before retreating back into the darkness. Bravo, Ghost.
The Soul Chance, 7 p.m. Friday, Temblor Brewing Co., 3200 Buck Owens Blvd., Suite 200. $5. 489-4855.
Fans of Bakersfield classic reggae soul act The Soul Chance patiently waiting for a live show will have their wish granted with a rare set at Temblor Brewing in celebration of their self-titled full-length release.
Printed on the Obeah Records label, a subsidiary of Going Underground Records that focuses more on vintage sounds than its punk foundations, the album sleeve also features cover art by local artist El Oms (aka Omar Juarez). While the album can be downloaded and streamed digitally in its entirety at goingundergroundrecords.com, get the vinyl printing available at the all-ages show.
At last check, presale was brisk, with orders coming in from around the globe. No telling how many copies from the initial pressing will be available before or after the show. In addition to special guest selectors Mr. Groove, Lil Red and more to be announced, attendees should also plan on raising a glass to commemorate the 18th anniversary of Going Underground Records in Bakersfield. Congratulations to all.
Emo Night, one-year anniversary, 9 p.m. Friday, Jerry’s Pizza, 1817 Chester Ave. $12. 633-1000.
Ask any millennial what qualifies a song to be placed in the category of "emo" — the emotionally expressive alt rock subgenre — and you’re bound to get a hundred different answers. It’s a common debate among those who claimed to have lived the life of a high school emo kid in the ’90s and those still questioning the direction of life as a 30-something living paycheck to paycheck in 2019.
But no matter the age or level of music snobbery, there’s one thing every diehard emo can agree on: the delight of your old MySpace page and the personally curated playlists that accompanied them. Panic at The Disco, Dashboard Confessional, My Chemical Romance, AFI and more on auto-play upon landing only to get stuck due to your computer freezing, leaving you captive until you unplugged to restart.
Still, the good memories are plentiful with stories about a handful of MySpace success stories, including original Orange County electro pop party queens the Millionaires, who went from making buzz-worthy indie songs and music videos to being invited by Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman on the road in 2009. Along the way the group also made regular appearances in Bakersfield at the Rockin’ Roots music fest, The Dome and Jerry’s Pizza, where Millionaires’ co-founding member Melissa Marie Green will be hosting this special all-ages dance night.
Expect all the classic sing-along emo gems spun by DJ Jwy, plus a live performance by Bakersfield Paramore tribute The Anklebiters, featuring Therese Muller on lead vocals. Don’t forget to rock your favorite black band T-shirt from Hot Topic, skinny jeans, Vans, tease that hair or straighten it according to proper emo code.