In a cozy, historic venue on the outskirts of the city, a stage darkened, fog filled the air, and four silhouettes emerged from a soft purple light. As the light moved across the stage, a band came into view. A frontman on a Korg synthesizer, a female on bass, guys on guitar and drums, and a human skull. The latter painted playfully on a kick drum. There stood Graveyard Club, ready to deliver the crowd back to the 80s while offering a glimpse at the future.
If you think back to what you were doing a year ago— last summer or early fall— you may recall the series "Stranger Things" being a large part of your life. And if you don’t, you should probably get on that before Season 2 arrives this fall. The show will probably go down as one of the most popular of our generation, and rightfully so. It transported us back to a simpler time filled with excitement and wonder. A bygone Spielberg-era we could look through with rose-colored glasses, especially since most of us weren’t old enough to truly remember any real complexities of it.
Of course, "Stranger Things" wasn’t the first in this literal new wave of neon nostalgia. Bands and movies like M83, VHS or Beta, Chromatics, “Drive,” “Tron Legacy,” “It Follows” and more have come before it. And more, like “Blade Runner 2049” and Graveyard Club will follow in the future. Some will be remembered and others will not.
As I positioned myself against a wooden railing near the stage, Graveyard Club struck their first chords and I immediately felt lucky to be where I was, seeing a band of this caliber at this stage of their career.
With heavy drums, saturated synths and vocals that rival the depths of late-career Ian Curtis (think Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart”), Graveyard Club is your new proof when needing to get across to people how cool you are.
But don’t mistake them for a gimmick. They don’t just sound 80s, they reincarnate the passion and musical curiosity that went along with it, even dipping into western twang at times, which sounds strangely right at home amongst the synths and bellowing bass lines. Few bands know how to toe that line, and Graveyard does it without a second thought.
With hair falling in front of his face, frontman Matthew Schufman paused after the band’s first song to introduce the title track off their new album— “Cellar Door”—a clear nod to "Donnie Darko." And it’s on this song that the most telling aspect of the performance occurred.
There is no denying the power behind Schufman’s haunting vocals, but when co-vocalist and bassist Amanda Zimmerman chimed in, it was something else all together. The two are equally stunning in their own right and balance out beautifully.
This is clearly a band who should make it big soon and leave a lasting impact. Like "Stranger Things," they masterfully fan the flame many of us have for nostalgia, yet rise above the trend line. There's an uncanny power to their sound which moves through you like the ghost of times past. They're a band I could easily see on the lineup at Pitchfork, SXSW or Coachella in the near future. And while they mostly play around their home city of Minneapolis right now, they’re getting closer and closer to busting out from the underground.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure whether or not I would do a write up on this show. I rarely do after all (check my past contributions as proof). But after seeing them live, I couldn't help it. I literally sat in my car once I got home and typed up pretty much everything you've just read.
So check out Graveyard Club now before they get too popular, or risk being that person who asked if you’d seen Stranger Things six months after it aired.
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