Review: Speedwolf at The Marquis Theater, 12/16/11

Tom Murphy
Speedwolf at the Marquis Theater.

Speedwolf vocalist Reed Bruemmer feigned surprise at the end of the band's set last night and asked the audience if they actually wanted to hear the band cover KISS. Of course everyone did, so the guys closed the record-release show with their raucous rendition of "Strutter" instead of "Cold Gin" and the stage diving that happened throughout the show continued somehow. Though Bruemmer did joke that if someone stage dove during "Strutter" they could get bragging rights. Maybe that was his way of actually keeping the stage diving going right until the very end.

Before Speedwolf took the stage, three figures in black, full face masks came forward bearing flags. The one on the left, a Broncos banner. On the right, a Speedwolf flag and the figure in the middle, had a Colorado State flag and it was him, Brian Castillo (aka DJ El Brian), that served as the MC getting the crowd riled up for the band proper to come on with the music. And Speedwolf didn't exactly waste any time getting to around an hour of music that felt more like half an hour because the foursome performed with some kind of heightened energy likely feeding off the crowd. Bruemmer joked that he didn't know that so many people liked Speedwolf.

It was the kind of music that you'd imagine Lemmy would have made had he come up through punk and hardcore instead of the '60s. Running through most, if not all, of Ride With Death, the band's latest record, everyone on stage was relentless in unleashing a fun-loving, primal rock and roll. Richie Tice made the use of double bass not just a mindless jackhammer that you hear in a lot of metal.

Tom Murphy
Speedwolf at the Marquis Theater.

Rather, in perfect conjunction with his other drums, and Jake Kauffman's fluid yet rugged bass rumble, he blasted out the appropriate beat for the pacing of every song in every moment. People who haven't really listened to the band might think every song has the same pace, but Tice showed this wasn't the case with each song last night. Yes, all of it was fast-paced but also surprisingly nuanced so it didn't feel like you were getting pummeled into submission. Instead, it felt like you were brought along for the ride.

Around the middle of the set, Bruemmer told us that a lot of their songs have the word "wolf" in the title and that the new song was called "Sign of the Wolf." Kris Wells' sharp guitar line alongside Bruemmer's vocal tones for the song were reminiscent of Motörhead's "Cradle to the Grave" -- definitely not a bad thing because not many people can sound like that.

Before the next number, and at another point in the show, Kauffman teased the bass line to Ozzy's "No More Tears" but Bruemmer laughed and said, "No, no, no." Instead, Speedwolf bowled right into "I Am the Demon" with a palpable vigor. Almost as much as for the follow-up, a true Speedwolf classic, with "Denver 666" - before which Bruemmer jokingly scolded people in the crowd for extolling the virtues of Los Angeles and New York to us.

That would have been the end, but instead of leaving the stage like lame rock stars, Speedwolf did two covers to close the show. The aforementioned "Strutter" to finish but "Witching Hour" by Venom to start. Bruemmer and the other guys in the band seemed in such great spirits, heartened by the response of the crowd you really felt that with them which we could do with to experience more often.

Tom Murphy
No Thought at the Marquis Theater.

The night's show started with No Thought. Those of us who have seen the band are used to places where the sound system, to put it charitably, isn't as good. This time, you could hear all the drum beats and nuances perfectly along with the guitar textures. No Thought always sounds like it's doing physical damage to your body with its blasts of gritty sonics. Eli Wendler's drums sounded gigantic under and over a guitar sound. It was not unlike what you might hear if you put a contact mike on a thick piece of metal being worked on by an arc welder, near the point where the electrode contacts the surface, only more controlled, more biting with precision. Musically, it was akin to grindcore but in some ways more aggressive or at least more robust low end to give it the feel like the songs gouged out at you rapidly and with a relentless persistence that let up when the song ended.

Tom Murphy
Weaponizer at the Marquis Theater.

Weapönizer was a three piece that played, on the surface anyway, a thrashy kind of speed metal with naturally distorted vocals with an intentionally anti-melodic tone. As the set went on the guitar sound and the rhythms were reminiscent of some strange blend of Shane Embury's savage leads with death metal precision while the bass and drums did runs that were rapidly syncopated, sped up rhythms like a thrash song played at a higher speed. The band's set ended with a song that might have been called "Machinegun Breath" but when it started out, the guitar work sounded like "Am I Evil" at one and a half times the rate.

Location Info


Marquis Theater

2009 Larimer St., Denver, CO

Category: Music

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