ARTS Pick: Horsefang and Miami Nights

Horsefang reunites for a double bill with Miami Nights at the Main St. Annex. Publicity image. Horsefang reunites for a double bill with Miami Nights at the Main St. Annex. Publicity image.

Metal shows are rare in Charlottesville, but the few that do happen tend to be high-quality. This is due in part to the talents and good taste of the few local metal-heads, and Friday night’s show at the Main Street Annex is an opportunity to catch the two of the best local bands from any genre, paired with two great touring bands.

Most notable is the return of Horsefang, once a regular fixture of Charlottesville’s underground, now on semi-hiatus and appearing only once every year or three. The trio, led by Nicholas Liivak, play instrumental doom metal that evokes desolate western landscapes, and though the concerts are invariably beer-soaked, shirtless opportunities for hijinks and sarcasm, the thoughtfulness of the music invariably shines through in its unique arrangements and cohesive performances. The band can summon a pummeling, low-end fury when necessary, but the best moments of its sets come during songs like “River of Dead Horses,” when the music slows to a sparse, desperate crawl.

The co-headliner is Miami Nights, which began several years as the solo project of Maxx Katz (formerly of Red Wizard and USAisaMonster). In recent years, the act has solidified into a powerhouse trio who play a monolithic wall of crushingly loud sludge. Katz’s freeform riffs and wild, Vikingesque bellows are anchored by her rock-solid rhythm section of Daniel Sebring and Nathanial Bogan (both of whom are usually more inclined towards punk when they’re not backing Katz). Despite the brutal heaviness of their chosen milieu, its take on metal is free of much of the cynicism and despair that marks the work of their colleagues; for Katz, metal is clearly a cathartic release of enthusiastic energy, and the resulting wall of distortion is as inspiring and ear-opening as it is overwhelming. The Nights has been playing short tours up and down the East coast in recent months, slowly building its reputation and leaving a swath of impressed fans in its wake; any opportunity to hear the short set should not be missed.

Also appearing are two like-minded Philadelphia groups: Company Corvette and Gon Dola, offering two takes on the sort of druggy, hypnotic garage-metal pioneered by The Stooges and Motörhead, and continued by everyone from Spacemen 3 to Electric Wizard. Both bands shared a bill with Miami Nights at a small house party earlier this fall, and each played an impressive set; they’re worthy of the larger local audience and solid sound-system that the Annex can provide.

Friday 12/13 Main Street Annex, 230 W. Water St. 817-2400.  The concert begins at 9pm, costs $8, and is open to headbangers of all ages; the use of earplugs is advised.