Attend most watering holes in Craig on any given night and the sounds you’re most likely to hear are country twang or classic rock playing over the speakers. While that set list may be perfect for some residents, others look for something a little edgier, a little more urban and most importantly, a lot louder.
The volume was way up Saturday night at the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion, as a selection of local and state-wide metal bands put on a show. Among those playing were local bands Pray for Us All and Biological Meltdown and Denver groups Artemesis and Harvest the Murdered.
A fifth act, Unreasonable Human, was originally scheduled to play and had to cancel — but the crowd was still left with plenty of tunes.
Artemesis, fronted by Craig native Sam Johnson, served as the headliner of the night. This is the first time the band has played in Craig, though they have performed all over Colorado.
Drummer Ricco Burkhardt said the downside of playing in Denver on a regular basis is that they attract the same people for every show, finding a fresh change in the Yampa Valley.
“I think people in Denver are kind of jaded because there’s a metal show somewhere every night, whereas it’s not as frequent here,” he said. “It’s kind of the one show in a blue moon for this kind of music, and I hope that’s how it’s received.”
The band has played outside Colorado before adding Johnson to their ranks at the beginning of the year. A new tour will let them display new songs featuring the singer’s self-penned lyrics.
One of their favorite songs to perform is titled “The Human Construct.”
“It’s the longest, it’s the sweetest and it’s got everything you could want from us,” Burkhardt said.
The show served as an opportunity for the group to gauge how their music would be welcomed by a different type of audience. Besides their plans to cut an album this year, they will also hit the road in the coming months to bring the Artemesis sound to the Southwest.
Burkhardt said they will likely play a lot of venues in California, Nevada and Texas and hopefully beyond while still staying true to the Denver area.
The night’s activities were a nice change for the men of Biological Meltdown, who find most of their gigs out of town. Brothers Justin and Tyler Ketchum cover guitar and vocals, respectively, complemented by bassist Raul Medrano and drummer Aaron Rademacher.
The group has frequently played alongside Artemesis.
“They give us a lot of chances to play,” Justin Ketchum said. “It’s been hard for us coming from Craig, but we’re starting to get a lot of bigger, better theaters, like in Denver and Grand Junction.”
He added that the rural community of Craig has made it difficult for them to gain a following. Though they played a show similar to Saturday’s in February at the Pavilion, hiring themselves out to local sites is a tough sell.
“We’ve played some places like J.W. Snack’s, but most times when we play, we have to rent the place,” Justin said. “I think if more bars here gave us a chance, it’d bring in a lot of people and a lot of money.”
The crowd Saturday was an enthusiastic one, encompassing both regular fans of the groups performing and people just looking for a fun night.
Audience member Leila Rinker said she came out to see Pray for Us All and Biological Meltdown, having already seen both of them.
“I think they’re awesome, and I wish there was a bigger turnout in Craig for this kind of stuff,” she said.
Mark Griffin said he was unfamiliar with the bands, but when he heard a metal concert was in the works, he was quick to show.
“It’s mostly country around here, and nobody likes my music so that’s why I’m glad to have it here,” he said.
Griffin said the metal genre tends to suffer from misconceptions, pointing out that many people there for the music were from different backgrounds and age groups.
“These kinds of shows are a lot more family-oriented than people think,” he said.