The Native Howl shows a roaring good time
The Native Howl rose to relative fame in 2016 after releasing their well-received EP, “Thrash Grass.” The EP’s mix of bluegrass instrumentation and the speed and intensity of thrash metal is sure to catch any listener’s attention. They stopped at the Vega in Lincoln, Nebraska on Oct. 2nd on their first national tour.
The first local band to open up, Hammersaw, was a quintet faithful to traditional bluegrass, featuring all acoustic instruments and forgoing a trap set for a cajon. In their half-hour set, they opened their first song by saying, “Fuck terrorism,” played an interesting cover of “Fat Bottomed Girls” by Queen and introduced the concept of mandolin solos. Their mandolin player was also fond of calling out, “Hail Satan” between songs.
The next group on stage was Ragged Company from Omaha. Another quintet, this group featured standard rock instrumentation with a slide dobro thrown in. Their sound was reminiscent of Johnny Cash and Tom Petty, especially due to their use of slide guitar. Their songs also had country influences and overall felt like a modernization of traditional bluegrass. One member also mentioned that they actually “had a set for this show.”
The last opener to play was a radical departure from the bluegrass before it, and a hint of the energy the headliner possessed. Super Moon is a four-piece band from Omaha, with two electric guitars and an electric bass backed up by a frantic trap set. Their self-described “moon rock” style was very reminiscent of Wolfmother mixed with funk rock and blues. This group switched things up a bit with some 7/4 and 3/4 (or 6/4) time signatures here and there, making for an interesting listening experience.
Then the Native Howl took the stage. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, their frontman looks like he was plucked straight from a log cabin deep in the woods of the Upper Peninsula. Bare feet, black leather jacket, and wild hair and beard helped this guy fit the part as he shredded on an acoustic guitar with the phrase “FOLK YOU” written in tape across the face. Along with the acoustic, he also played an electric guitar and a curious-looking mandolin/guitar combo. Their banjo player switched between acoustic guitar, banjo, and harmonica, and rocked all three. The bassist tore it up when requested, and their drummer had an energy and intensity unmatched by any other performer that night. All four members provided vocals, and the drummer even took the lead vocals on their last song, showing off his multitasking talent. The mix of bluegrass instrumentation and the energy of thrash metal created a unique flood of banjo and mandolin unheard anywhere else.
Overall, the concert provided an interesting mix of styles and talent, and the Native Howl provided more support as to why everyone should give them a listen.