I walked into my favorite Nashville venue — the Brooklyn Bowl — on a recent Friday evening, not truly knowing what to expect from the upcoming night of music. I was there to see The Darkness and local favorites, The Dead Deads. The latter all-girl grunge rock group is widely considered to be one of the best rock bands in Nashville; they certainly bolstered that claim with an awesome and brutal 30-minute set to get the crowd’s blood pumping before The Darkness finished them off. In my opinion, The Dead Deads sound like a mix between 90s female rockers L7 and Sonic Youth, thick and bass-heavy, with thundering drum beats intermixed with beautiful melodies and occasional guttural growls.
I wouldn’t go so far to classify them into overly heavy metal categories, but they have a crushing sound nonetheless.
Not only do they rock insanely hard, but their fans are some of the most dedicated and rowdy fans I have come across all year. They are a group of individuals affectionately called “The Dead Corps: each member wears black X’s across their eyes and make sure they take a few minutes in between band changeovers to let you know how much they love The Dead Deads. This band is exceptionally talented, so if your tastes lean along the slower and sludgier side of rock and roll, you should definitely check them out!
I don’t think there are many people who haven’t heard the 2002 smash hit “I Believe In a Thing Called Love” by The Darkness. For a time, it seemed like the song was on every radio station in the country. The high-pitched singing style of Justin Hawkins is as recognizable as greats like Freddy Mercury and Brian Johnson of AC/DC fame. While it’s certainly a catchy and familiar song, admittedly, it’s one of the only songs I really knew from this longtime UK rock band. So, when they took the stage, I wasn’t really quite sure how the night would go; by the middle of the opening song, I remember thinking, “Holy crap! This band is amazing!”
In terms of pure high-energy rock and roll, nobody has ever rocked harder than The Darkness.
The concert at times felt like a high-impact workout, as the crowd and band didn’t stop moving the entire set. Fans behind me went absolutely mental for them and I must have been hit in the back of the head with pumping fists about 20 times. Luckily, my adrenaline was pumping the entire set or I might have been more upset about the unintentional assault. Justin Hawkins was one of the most animated and fun frontmen I have ever had the pleasure of watching perform; he pulled off three outfit changes and jumped off of everything he could plant his feet on. At one point, he even did a perfect headstand on the drum riser and flipped perfectly onto his feet! Ultimately, they closed the set with the song people are most familiar with although I am quite certain there wasn’t a song played that night that wasn’t screamed back at the band with an intense enthusiasm — enthusiasm I haven’t seen in a long time. I am now proud to say that I am a Darkness fan for life!
Photography by Derek Jones