Indiana Daily Student

Metallic mayhem: a deep dive into The Reef’s Metal Night

<p>The pit splits in two for a spirited game of tug of war whilst metal core band Spawn plays in the background Sept. 8, 2023. Four Indiana-based bands came together for music, madness and tug of war. <br/>
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The pit splits in two for a spirited game of tug of war whilst metal core band Spawn plays in the background Sept. 8, 2023. Four Indiana-based bands came together for music, madness and tug of war. 

The first thing I sensed at the beginning of Metal Night was not the sound of instruments tuning or vocalists screaming, but rather the smell of fresh burgers on the side of the road. The Reef, a local house show venue, had hired a burger stand to work their second Metal Night. The show consisted of a lineup of four Indiana-based bands that fit into the metal spectrum. My friend, Alex Pirowski, grabbed a burger and a Baja Blast from the stand as we entered the backyard. 

It was a gorgeous evening with clear skies and sunshine when the first band started their set. Mauled, a brash metalcore group, hails from Indianapolis. Almost all of the five members are still teenagers, with guitarist Eli Harrell being the youngest at just 16 years old. This was their first show in Bloomington. 

Mauled, well, mauled their set. Their vocalist, Abe Kirkpatrick, started each song with a cheeky phrase stating what the song was about. He even jokingly mentioned that their music sounds just like Taylor Swift and started screaming immediately after. The band writes their songs as a group about their own experiences, ranging from being diagnosed with ADHD to being a child of divorce, Kirkpatrick said. 

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“He (Kirkpatrick) actually writes a lot of riffs, but he has no clue how to play guitar,” Chance York, lead guitarist for Mauled, said as Kirkpatrick laughed in the background. 

“I just beatbox and make them do it with the guitar,” Kirkpatrick said. 

Despite being so young, they are incredibly cohesive with a big, jarring sound. Mauled plans to go on tour in 2024 after only playing with each other for just under a year. Their self-titled debut album is set to release before their upcoming Southeast U.S. tour. 

As they finish their set, I spot a psychedelically painted amp lurking backstage. It would be only a short matter of time before Golden Alley, a classic rock-inspired hard rock group, set them up onstage, complete with LED lights adorning the sides. Vocalist and rhythm guitarist Dean Jupiter knotted a scarf around their microphone stand when I noticed there was no bassist in the band. 

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“I used to play bass,” Nicky Taylor, guitarist and bassist for Golden Alley, said. “I still do, but I do a little slap thing on guitar, and I bring the elements of bass into my guitar playing.” 

Jupiter’s vocals are at times enhanced by a synthesizer set-up in order to create a fuller sound for the three-piece band, they said. 

“We’re essentially a three-piece trying to sound like a five-piece,” Taylor said. 

My expectations completely shifted once Taylor whipped out a trumpet and jumped into the pit for a solo. I was mesmerized by his breath control until I asked about it after. 

“Believe me, I am winded after that trumpet solo,” Taylor said. “I was trying to go back to sing vocals with Dean and I was just like (huffing and puffing).” 

Before I knew it, band number three had already started their set. Spawn is silly, gracing the stage in ridiculous outfits, from what probably is an anime cosplay to a gaming headset perched on drummer Jez Douglas’ head. 

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“I definitely think fun is the priority with this band,” Joe Dennis, guitarist and songwriter for Spawn, said. “None of us take ourselves too seriously.” 

Their music is more feeling than sound, featuring electronic sampling at the start of most songs with the screaming power of two wildly different vocalists. Nathan Morfoot screams how you’d expect a metal singer to scream: technical, throaty and deep, as Thomas Barham, the other vocalist, puts it. Barham’s technique is less technical. 

“Thomas is one of those vocalists where he kind of just does it,” Dennis said. 

In the midst of their set, Barham asks the pit to play tug of war with a rope he just so happens to have on hand. The pit splits in two, attaching themselves to either end of the rope. Miraculously, they hold on for the whole song and no one was hurt. The rope was not seen again. 

While all this is going on, a small TV rests on the righthand corner of the stage playing clips from the hit TV show “Family Guy.” 

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“Earlier this year, I saw this meme of someone at a theater watching ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water’, and he had Family Guy clips on his phone,” Dennis said. “I don’t even remember the last time I laughed that hard at a meme, so I was insistent that we have ‘Family Guy’ clips at our shows.” 

“We did it for the first time last week,” Morfoot said. “Nobody really thought it was funny at that show, but we got a lot of comments about it tonight.” 

Talent aside, Spawn stole the show with that one small detail, referring to a much-overplayed meme on Twitter. 

The final metal boss, Faerie Ring, was my girlfriend’s favorite band of the night. From their lead singer’s belt coated in artillery to the group refusing to turn their amps down, they closed the night off beautifully. As I walk back down the street to my car, already sleepy at 10 p.m., I hear them playing “Closing Time” by Semisonic. 

I know I want to take these bands home as my girlfriend sings along to the chorus. As the car doors lock, I’m sad to be leaving that show. 

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