Deadboy and The Elephantmen

One Eyed Jacks

June 24, 2006

Where have all the sensitive metal guys gone? To the Deadboy and The Elephantmen concert, it seems. Frontman Dax Riggs' cult following from his days in Acid Bath and Agents of Oblivion showed up when the duo(augmented by a live bass player) headlined Antigravity's 2 Year Anniversary Party at One Eyed Jacks Friday night.

Though there weren't as many metal dudes at the concert as when I saw Deadboy in a different incarnation at The Howlin' Wolf two years ago, there were still enough to seem out of place with the indie crowd and draw my attention. Dax's metal dudes are the most entertaining type of metal dudes, too, because they're not interested in a mosh pit. They're interested in immersing themselves completely, almost ritualistically, into the drama and darkness of Deadboy's haunting garagey blues punk.

The guys standing in front of me sported goatees, backwards baseball caps, dark t-shirts, tattoos, and, judging from their builds, they were pretty interested in working out. So, I was amused when one of them started singing along during "Evil Friend" with the overarching sincerity of Celine Dion while performing weaving and flowery hand gestures that I recognized from belly dancers. The hook goes:

We are night sky/We are God's eye/At the end of a lullabye/On the shore of tears yet to be cried

He patted his friend every now and then, as if to say, "Hey remember this one? Isn't this one awesome?!" I like the metal dudes who aren't afraid to show their feelings.

They weren't the only ones enjoying the music. "Evil Friend" was the apex of the night, garnering a large amount of applause from the nearly-full venue, while "Stop, I'm Already Dead" was a headbanging, straightforward, foot-thumper that also pleased the crowd. The faster fuzz-drenched songs were driven by drummer Tessie Brunet's simple pounding.

During the slower numbers a natural haunting folk and singer-songwritery residue covered the music. Since there's only two people in the band, and therefore less sound, Deadboy is naturally creating music that's closer to the solo heart. I have no problem seeing Dax performing these songs by himself sitting on a stool. I imagine Dax brings the songs to Tessie written and arranged, no input needed.

Though he's not spotlighting his vocal range as much as in the past, Dax shone while performing some doo-woppy, high-pitched, dramatic vocal acrobatics during "Evil Friend." Dax's histrionics are just as important to the band's style as the guitar or drums.

Speaking of important, Brunet is a great addition, or possible reduction, from the former Deadboy line-up, which was a quartet. Dax's songs are more acute and concentrated in their focus with Tessie. The music's direction is more obvious, and it's easier to digest. The quartet's songs were more schizophrenic, jumping from slow to fast to soft to hard within moments. Deadboy is much more powerful with just two people, and the increased intimacy of the songs is bolstered by Tessie's beautiful back-up vocals. She has a female voice that can reach the higher register with ease and more authenticity than a man's, so it really blends well with Dax's ability to reach that high, as well.

After the main set Deadboy and The Elephantmen returned for a fun, stripped-down version of the Pixies' "Wave of Mutilation."

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