“Hmmm, what’s this you say?” you murmur as the maudlin organ draws you in, “Punk rock road show?” “Please Mr. Gravedigger, where have I heard that before?” you try and recall as you enter the carnival tent. The familiarity of the name rings a bell, not totally realizing though your subconscious that it’s a nigh ancient David Bowie album track, instead associating it with some kind of off-Broadway musical as the name might imply. More so still, the name hardly reflects on a band that once lay part of the claim to As I Lay Dying. On the velvet-shrouded stage, Johnny Gravedigger (it’s only a stage name!) poised like a cannon at the microphone, belting out, “We’re not making the beat… / only keeping the time,” the lime spotlight shining down, switching lenses to a mauve on Kelly Kotner as she petulantly chimes in on the trashy chorus line. More hardcore than punk, but with a sensationally three-penny-opera take on it, it’s an exciting revelry.
But it’s also one that’s so tantalizingly incomplete; the closing words “He ran for the water” and a few solitary electric guitar chords leave you searching for something as the band start to pack up the stage and the curtains drop just a few minutes after the whole thing began – it’s all so brief and insubstantial that you get the overwhelming feeling that there’ll be so much more to see next circuit through town. For the few of you that wait around in silence for an encore at the end – after the crowd empties out, a few kids gather around in secret after a few minutes and start a rambling acoustic session about a street person who stabbed them that seems vaguely funny to them (It’s up to you to infer what this has anything to do with the show that preceded it.)