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Monday, July 4, 2011

Falling for the sheer insanity of Hans Darkbolt

Tomorrow, we'll continue with our overwhelmingly detailed Athfest coverage, but today I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to write about my wild experience seeing Hans Darkbolt live for the very first time last Friday night. Memorable doesn't even begin to come close to describing that show! I'd even venture to say that a little something called destiny played a part in my discovery of this band.

Perhaps I should explain myself. You see, once upon a time (or last year, if you want to be specific), regular readers of the blog might remember I had a favorite band called Crumbling Arches who most tragically split up in November. After their break up, I was quite sure I would never find another awesome band that fit into the theatrical progressive alt rock genre again. But then, during my extensive research of every band playing Athfest this year, I stumbled across the curious stylings of Hans Darkbolt. Upon checking out their Facebook page, something just clicked. Immediately, I knew I had to catch these guys in action!

Now I've got to admit, it's been months since I've been to a show where I didn't know a single soul by name, but it was kind of a refreshing change too. The courtyard outside of Farm 255 was packed with friends and fans of the band, awaiting what I was told would be a brilliant live show. Before the set began, lead singer Peter Dovey, sporting suspenders and a zebra-striped headband, yelled something nonsensical into the microphone and then ran offstage. From that moment on, my suspicions were confirmed. I knew I was going to like this band.

As their set began, haunting gothic overtones joined in a post-genre dance with fun, showtune-styled rock to create a deliciously unique sound for their tunes. Humorous inflections and lyrics peppered their vocals, which ranged from soft and smooth to the occasional yell, and they approached each song with a sort of chill, rock-edged energy that defied explanation. What's more, a slight touch of a placeless international feel gave their set a dreamlike quality which persisted throughout show. This band, alternating between a 4-piece and a 5-piece ensemble depending on the song, ruled the stage with an air of mystery that kept the whole crowd intrigued during every second of the set. And whenever we thought we had figured them out, these multitalented guys would all trade instruments again or surprise us by twirling offstage and into the dancing crowd. Just a few songs in, clutching his guitar as one possessed, the lead singer stumbled like a zombie through their sea of fans until he was behind the audience, then sprinted on over to where his parents were seated to play just inches from their faces. Minutes later, faced with a few technical difficulties, he grabbed two mics on their stands without hesitation and sang into both of them at once. It was madness, I tell you! And I loved every minute of it.

Then, as the set neared an end, the band encouraged their fans to shout out all of their favorite lines from action movies, once more displaying their incredible sense of fun. To top it all off, the aforementioned Dovey leapt offstage in the middle of the final song, lapped the crowd twice, ran inside the Farm 255 while strumming his guitar, then jumped up to play his final notes atop a small, rickety-looking table before collapsing on the ground in the most overdramtically awe-inspiring and hilarious display of manic, musically-induced insanity I've ever seen! And believe it or not, I've only mentioned some of the main highlights of this band's set... Their live show must be experienced to be believed. Hans Darkbolt is one band I'm positively dying to see again!

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