Michale Graves – Friday at Hawthorne Theater Balcony

Michale Graves is castor oil to hipsters. Strike one – he had the audacity to replace Glen Danzig in a reformed Misfits during the 90’s. Strike two – his fame has come largely through the “horror punk” movement – not exactly the first choice in music for the hip ones. Strike three – he openly supported George W. Bush during the 2004 election.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the hipsters are wrong – Michale Graves is cool and you should go see him this Friday. Yes, he fronted a Danzig-less, reformed Misfits during the mid to late 90s. He also wrote a lion’s share of the material, much of which is pretty good. And if Jerry Only came to you, a 19 year old kid, and asked you to front the Misfits, would you say no?

Yes, he came to fame by playing “horror punk”. For those not familiar with the formula, it largely involves wearing black, face paint, and singing about things like bats, zombies, and vampires. Done badly, it’s embarrassing. Done right, it’s a blast – the musical version of watching a 1950’s B-movie. Graves did it right.

Yes, he supported George Bush in 2004. Last time I checked, it was okay to disagree on some things. Some people may be willing to discredit someone’s artistic output because they’re not okay with who they put a checkbox next to in the ballot box. I’m not one of those people.

Finally, the guy has managed to release some varied and very interesting material since leaving the Misfits in 2000. The first album (“Web of Dharma”) was, perhaps, the perfect coda to the 1990’s “alternative” era. It’s one of the best albums that nobody’s ever heard. If you manage to find a copy, I highly recommend picking it up. Graves followed up with “Gotham Road” (an interesting mix of melody and crushing heavy metal), “Punk Rock is Dead” (a swaggering return to the “new Misfits” sound and a pointed “f you” to detractors), and “Return to Earth” (an honest but hit and miss attempt to broaden his sound). The latest, (“Illusions”) is a largely acoustic collaboration with Damien Echols of the West Memphis Three.

Graves’ albums have been either self-releasing or released through small labels for the better part of a decade now, but he’s still somehow able to launch national tours on an almost yearly basis. And no former Misfit (with the exception of Glen Danzig) has released such a prolific and varied output. Graves really marches to the beat of his own drummer. And what’s more indie than that?

3 Comments so far

  1. chris on May 12th, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

    Slightly confusing title. I almost thought there was a new club on Hawthorne.

    "Hawthorne Theater" is the location.
    "In the Balcony Wishbone" is the promoter.

    Horror-punk sounds amusing, I’d almost be tempted to go if he was still doing it. Any horror-punk videos you would recommend?

    I miss Gwar sometimes.

  2. tenstringesquire (port_bill) on May 12th, 2008 @ 2:17 pm

    Sorry about the title.

    He does still do it (his set is normally divided 50/50 between his solo material and Misfits material), but the current tour is an acoustic thing.

  3. portland hawthorne theatre (pingback) on June 3rd, 2008 @ 8:56 pm

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