Review by Rosie Walker, photos by Brian Wyner
January 29th 2017, The Warehouse, Clarksville TN: Clarksville, Tennessee is a moderately sized town nestled close to the Western Kentucky border. It is well-known for publishing Tennessee’s oldest newspaper and for the historic Roxy Theatre where Sheryl Crow shot a music video. A lesser known place of interest in Clarksville is The Warehouse, a music venue that loves to host and support the heavy metal scene. The place literally being a big old warehouse really sets the tone for some of the nitty-gritty bands it hosts. The Warehouse was a perfect back drop to the mighty Superjoint, who stole its stage this past Sunday January 29th, as they made a stop here on the first leg of their ‘Caught Up in the Gears’ US tour with support acts Child Bite and Battlecross.
Locals acts I am the Law and Gorilla Warfare got the crowd revved up for the awesome acts to follow. Detroit’s own Child Bite took the stage in original fashion with an eerie electronic intro causing an instantly fun, psychedelic effect. Though The Warehouse is in middle-of-nowhere Tennessee and might not be the most ‘state of the art’ setting; I was glad to be introduced to Child Bite in such a place. The venue, being held together by duct tape, cigarette smoke, and Bud Light stains, accentuated the raw grit that Child Bite produces. Singer and original member Shawn Knight, hooks you with his captivating crazy eyes, energy, and authenticity. If Jens Kidman and Neil Fallon had a baby, it would be Shawn Knight. In their raw gripping performance; I got lost in the organized chaos of their hardcore/punk sound. Carrying mystery and power, the band stirred the crowd with intrigue that transformed into some serious love by the end of their set.
Though gorged out on energy and heaviness already, the crowd was far from full when Battlecross hit the stage. Despite Battlecross being just as talented as Child Bite, The Warehouse had the opposite effect with Battlecross than it did with their tour bros. They need clear, crisp sound to properly project the spunk and squawk of their brand of metal. They had sound issues from the beginning, but they still came on as hungry and handsome as ever. One major trademark of the band is the dueling guitars between Tony Asta and Hiran Deraniyagala. The treat of their talent was lost on the sad sound system at The Warehouse. I have seen the band over a dozen times and knew what I was missing when I didn’t hear the magic in their hits like ‘Beast’ and ‘Absence’. Yet they still managed to capture the crowd with their vitality and boisterous stage presence.
Touring is never easy, and getting sick is all too common when you’re on the road. The legend himself, Phil Anselmo was a bit under the weather when he waltzed under the spotlight of the stage. I had the privilege of being backstage when the band, Superjoint, gathered to perform. All five members huddled together not just as bandmates, but as brothers. The positive energy and love created by those talented men was felt by everyone there. A fan in a wheelchair who was eagerly anticipating the band was pleasantly surprised when Phil, after his family huddle, immediately walked up to him, shook his hand and made his night by being gracious and kind. Phil’s effortless ability to make a crowd roar is exhilarating. As the legendary band from New Orleans kicked into their first notes, Phil told the crowd, “I love you all and appreciate you.” The screams swelled and the gritty groove that is Superjoint filled the senses. You felt the band’s heat as if the fierce Louisiana sun was shining directly on you. There is a reason why Pantera is Pantera and one of those reasons is the natural-born performer Phil Anselmo. Age and wear, though apparent, are not a hinderance in the man’s ability to convey his art.
The band ruthlessly thrashed their heavy gruesome sound in our faces for nearly an hour till they were ready to share a little treat they had in store. It was Bobby Landgraf’s birthday and with two cakes, a song, and an epic jam session, it was probably the best birthday of his life. Bobby being the guitar player in the band Down and Superjoint’s tech, felt the love when he was brought on stage to recognize his day of birth. Phil grabbed a guitar and awed the audience when he began to play. Not a typical sight to see the legend with a instrument, and just another reason to love him, because it was stunning. What made the jam all the more powerful was that they did it in celebration of their tech’s birthday. A hired hand who Phil clearly cherishes and that positive, relational vibe is what makes him still relevant today. Phil will always be famous for being in Pantera, but his love of music and of his music brothers is what makes him timeless.
Crickets chirping under a clear night sky in the middle of Clarksville, Tennessee in a venue some call “rustic” and some call “terrible”, Superjoint delivered an unforgettable performance. With gruesome groove, the American heavy metal band formed by one the world’s most beloved frontmen of all time came and conquered. They raised the banner and lead their enraptured audience to victory. The victory being honest music performed by honest hearts. Humbled and dazzled to witness, such genius will not be soon forgotten. Nor will I forget the fact I’ve been to a town where Sheryl Crow filmed a music video. A win-win.
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Superjoint + Battlecross + Child Bite remaining tour dates:
01/31/2017 – Birmingham, AL @ Zydeco
02/01/2017 – Knoxville, TN @ The Concourse
02/03/2017 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall