Sundown Showdown IV: TOAD, Sleep Money, Destruction Unit, Radio Moscow, and Graveyard at Yucca Tap Room, 1/27/12

Sundown Showdown IV (Night Two): TOAD, Sleep Money, Destruction Unit, Radio Moscow, Graveyard Yucca Tap Room Friday, January 27

See the full Sundown Showdown slideshow here.

Let's contrast, for a minute: During opening band TOAD's (it's an acronym: Take Over and Destroy) second song, "Midnight Hunger," a few straggling Yucca regulars, a little more keen on country and western than distorted guitars and tasteful blastbeats, headed for the door. But then there was "The Mad Alchemist," a feller old enough to be your grandpa, standing off stage, projecting oil bath visuals behind TOAD, Sleep Money, Destruction Unit, Radio Moscow, and Graveyard (he's on tour with the latter two).

Some folks just stick around.

Not that it was entirely easy to do so at the Yucca last night. Night two of the Sundown Showdown festival (the previous night featured Mr. Wax, Avon Ladies, and more at Palo Verde Lounge, and tonight features Otro Mundo, Mangled Men, Tokyo Electron, and more at Yucca) was packed. Like unintentional feel-ups, beer spills, elbows-to-faces, they-stopped-letting-folks-in packed.

Given the breadth of stylistic ground covered -- TOAD plays fast, black metal-inspired riff rock, Sleep Money does drum machine and bongo-fueled art-pop, Destruction Unit does psychedelic desert punk -- there was some bitching from the fans showing up to see the headliners, Iowa's Radio Moscow and Sweden's Graveyard.

If you were looking for a stylistic thread, well, everyone was loud. Other than that, the crowd reflected the disparate nature of the bands. There were greasers, crust punks, metalheads, and record collector nerds.

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"We're going to be quick," mumbled Ryan Wong of Destruction Unit as the band took the stage. And they were, at least in comparison to the last few shows I saw from the band, which found them lumbering over riffs at a sandworm pace. Playing fast is certainly nothing new to Wong and company, but the brisker tempos made for an energetic crowd.

Radio Moscow proved to be divisive. Mostly the vehicle of Parker Griggs and whoever he can wrangle up as a rhythm section, the band and its boogie-rock-Jimi-fronts-Blue Cheer kind of thing was enjoyable. I wasn't alone; the crowd swelled and moshed, and it wasn't long before long-haired heshers were stage-diving (cue the Yucca's staff, stepping in to make sure no one got too out of control). The band's psychedelic pastiche hardly worked for everyone, though, and most of the charm was drained by the end of the band's set, which found Griggs' and company just sort of blooze-dood jamming ad infinitum.

But Graveyard, featuring former Norrsken members Joakim Nilsson and bassist Rikard Edlund helped unify everyone. You would think that as the clock approached 1 a.m., the place might clear up a bit, but no such luck. Clearly, Graveyard was the band folks wanted to see. The band's latest, Hisingen Blues, found them moving even more in a straight rock 'n' roll direction, and their performance on the Yucca stage was the short of thing your dad or uncle might just as easily groove to.

You know, if they're the kind of folks who can handle fighting for a spot.

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Sundown Showdown IV: TOAD, Sleep Money, Destruction Unit, Radio Moscow, Graveyard

The Crowd: Greasers, crusties, people I've worked with in record stores, metalheads, a few random bro-dawgs looking to get "hammer wasted."

Good Point, Man: [Discussing Radio Moscow] "I mean, you might as well be listening to Hans Olson."

Hey, That's Cool: A mini-dance party broke out when DJ Horsepussy dropped some soul and funk 45s between sets.

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