BECAUSE YOU MISSED IT: The Skull Defekts Crush At Dreamland And You Weren’t There.

Photos by the Binocular Man.

You fucked up. To harsh? Whatever.  I don’t think that any one show has ever earned the title of this column more than last night’s show at Dreamland with Swedish band Skull Defekts. They slayed so hard that I think I probably developed scoliosis from headbanging. But it’s the headbang that we all need in our lives, the good kind, where everything is so righteous that you have to get down. And that’s what I did, because that’s the Skull Defekts brought, so you fucked up if you slept on this. No apologies.

Honestly, I don’t know the specifics on who played first. The flyer listed either Ma Turner or the Avner Community Band, but I think they said something about it being some kind of String Band when they played. The “they” in this case is Mr. Ma Turner himself, Mikey Turner, formerly of Lexington bands Warmer Milks and Cross to name a few. Mr. Turner has popped up at quite a few shows lately in town, and seems to have taken up residency at Dreamland, which I would submit as a good thing. I don’t know a lot about his recorded output, but I know that everything I’ve heard has been different, and that includes within each project, that even an individual project varies from release to release. 
For example, a close friend happened to catch a Ma Turner appearance a few weeks ago, which apparently consisted of a vocal mic running through effects. His bandcamp page seems to confirm that approach, but then there is also a weird hip-hop element running through it. Last night’s offering -whatever it was ultimately titled- featured Mr. Turner and another fella playing guitar. Mikey Turner had a minimalist set up, just a guitar and amp, no effects, and a pretty clean tone. The other guitarist carried all the weight with effects and such, but spent the majority of his time tastefully shredding solos. Both of them sang and occasionally they employed a drum machine that looks like it fell through a time portal opened in a Sears from the 70’s. The end result was something like “Meddle” era Pink Floyd as interpreted by Gastr Del Sol. It was surprisingly calming, and as such completely different from Skull Defekts.
Skull Defekts were up next, and holy shit did they bring it. They play music that second guitarist/vocalist Daniel Fagerström identified as “Swede Metal,” which is kind of like if Josh Homme played in The Ex. Think heavy and angular, but incredibly mesmerizing. I’m here to tell you that to witness the Skull Defekts live is like being part of some sort of arcane ritual, like you’re inside of one of their album covers. I’m not sure what Swede Metal should be, but this to me sounds like tribalistic minimalism at it’s best, heavy and intense, unflinching in it’s ferocity. 
Not to belabor the point to much, but there set up was fucking dope. The guitar players were front and center, joking and engaging the audience, but the drummer and percussionist were the backbone of the entire affair. So many toms hit. So. Many. Toms. And the percussionist was definitely their secret weapon. He had two gas cans (or I suppose “petrol cans”) that he used as toms. They were mic’d up and running through some synths, which I think made them even more tonal. The drums provided all of the bass qualities to the band. The only complaint I heard was that the meager synth work that was done throughout the night wasn’t quite loud enough, which was true and a bit disappointing, because what I could hear was righteous.
I had talked a little with Joachim Nordwall before the show, and, you know, here, and while everyone was fucking awesome, it was guitarist Daniel Fagerström who stole the show. This dude was fucking killing me the whole time. A lot of their riffs rely on repetition, and Fagerström is more often than not the one to pull off all of the “lead” work, so he has a little more room to maneuver throughout the song. The end effect was a lot of jaunty leg movements, like he was summoning a majestic ass, Swedish unicorn or something. And his dance moves are unprecedented. Check out this video that I’m posting below, and you’ll completely understand why.

The turn out was less than exemplary. I’m not about to go off on anyone for not going out or supporting the scene or any of that. It sounds silly to say that out loud, and it’s not anyone’s responsibility to contribute to anything else, especially if it’s not your thing. How could I say anything anyways? I only barely go to more shows than I write about, so you do the math. But it was damned disappointing to see so few people there for such an awesome, and incredibly underrated band. I can imagine that a younger crowd would’ve been into this, just as much as the thirty-something’s, somberly thinking about the headache that we would all have this morning. This isn’t a tsk tsk moment though, but just an acknowledgement that Dreamland is hosting some pretty fucking righteous shows that are well worth your attention. We could all use to sleep less on how great we’ve had it around here lately in terms of good shows, which by my estimation can be at least partially attributed to the good folks at The Other Side of Life and Dreamland. Cheers to that.