Autumn winds are finally rushing into Savannah, and with it brings hope for our wilting music scene.
Ryan Graveface (owner of Graveface Records) and Angel Bond (front woman of CUSSES) worked long hours to put together Savannah’s first annual Halloween bash this Saturday: Graveface Fest. The event was held in the courtyard and warehouse of Southern Pine Company on 35th Street, and featured CUSSES, Creepoid, Dosh, David Liebhart (quirky puppeteer from the Tim and Eric Show), Dreamend, The Marshmallow Ghosts, and headliners Black Moth Super Rainbow.
Between acts, Graveface-goers could browse local vinyl and merch, pose in a dining room set photo booth, watch skateboarders pulling stunts on a homemade half pipe, and check out live painters. Food tents served barbecue and other seasonal treats like cider and pumpkin soda from vendors like Foxy Loxy.
Music lovers came out in their Halloween best, and shuffling through the crowds I saw Beetlejuice, The Mad Hatter, a giant box of Newport cigarettes, Gumby and two friends dressed as Black Moth Super Rainbow (one a black moth, the other a super rainbow).
The venue was small but intimately so, decorated with spiderwebs and a giant zombie hanging from the ceiling. CUSSES thrashed with high energy. Front woman Bond punch/danced and swerved in a blur of black fabric and blunt blonde hair.
Creepoid, a psychedelic grunge band from Philadelphia, was a pleasant new surprise, and performed exactly as their name suggests. Though I wasn’t in the crowd for their set, a droning wall of sound crept from the warehouse.
While playing the ending instrumentals of Enabler (off their 2011 album “Horse Heaven”), the guitars and bass rolled in rhythms reminiscent of math-rock, and all I could see from outside were the blue lights silhouetting bassist Anna Troxell, her curtain of long hair sweeping over her arms and strings.
But the main attraction was Black Moth Super Rainbow — perhaps the most eclectic band of the night.
The band is usually very discreet about their appearances and identities. Graveface is their identified guitarist, while the other members are known as Tobacco, Iffernaut, Bullsmear, and The Seven Fields of Aphelion. The band creates their sunny and psychedelic sound with the use of vocoders and mellotrons (a keyboard which uses prerecorded sounds for each key), but the essence of their music can be best described by the insert from their 2007 album, “Dandelion Gum:”
“Deep in the woods of western Pennsylvania, vocoders hum amongst the flowers and synths bubble under the leaf-strewn ground while flutes whistle in the wind and beats bounce to the soft drizzle of a warm acid rain. As the sun peeks out from between the clouds, the organic aural concoction of Black Moth Super Rainbow starts to glisten above the trees.”
Bat wings, zombies, and musicians blended in a synth-technicolor haze as the show continued, and Graveface seemed to treat his performance as a personal meditation, playing his guitar while standing perfectly still with his eyes shut.
Graveface Fest was a magnanimous first for those of us still under 21 wishing for an accessible music scene in Savannah. Hopefully it be one of many all ages fests to come, and this city can reach it’s full potential, stirring the Savannah music scene back to life.