It had always been a little too easy to dismiss Michale Graves. Stepping into Glenn Danzig’s boots as a lead singer of the legendary punk band the Misfits would be a daunting task for any performer. Many hardcore fans would just never accept anyone else in that role. Graves’ outspoken political views as a punk rock republican have earned him disdain from many of the more traditionally liberal members of the punk community. While it is indeed easy to dismiss Graves sight unseen, upon seeing the man perform in front of a crowd, it becomes harder to not give him credit as a singer/songwriter.
His recent show at Blackthorn 51 highlighted Graves’ strengths. Graves feeds off the personal connection between him and the fans. Easily approachable before and after the show, Graves greeted fans and signed autographs. He took time to talk to fans as individuals.
The intimacy of the venue reflected in the outpouring of emotion that Graves had on stage. Graves is at heart a storyteller, whether it be the gothic horrors he tells in his Misfits songs or the true-to-life experiences he details in his solo work. Graves likes to tell stories in between songs describing the incidents that inspired his lyrics. Graves is not concerned with keeping up the tough-guy persona that many rockers like to keep. At least three times, he admitted to crying, tears of sadness or tears of joy depending on the situation being told. He even spoke about his love of rose gardening.
Graves defies expectations. He doesn’t fit any stereotype people may have of him. He even lacked the skull face makeup he has come to be remembered for. Instead, Graves donned cap and work clothes, looking very much like the “redneck punk” he joked about himself being. The lack of theatrics underscored the down-to-earth persona that Graves gave off that night.
Graves didn’t just share personal anecdotes, he also rocked hard. Horror punk anthems dominated his set. Misfits songs such as “Dig Up Her Bones” and “American Psycho” kept the crowd headbanging. The song that gave his tour its name, “Beginning of the End,” is sure to become a modern classic.
The show lasted well into the night, ending at around two in the morning. Eventually, even horror punk fans need to crawl back into their crypts. They did so after sharing a rather personal connection between fans and rock star. Now that is something that is hard to dismiss.