Heavy metal’s most deranged duo rolled into Denver last night, bringing down the house with an hour of hysterical costumes, sing-alongs and head-stomping, neck-snapping metal overdrive.
If Sarah Silverman was a rock star, she would be Kimberly Freeman, slender, innocent-faced, pigtails-to-the-waist but brilliantly insane frontwoman of One Eyed Doll. Backed by drummer Junior, Kimberly led the crowd in catchy sing-alongs for tunes about murdering neighbors, eating people, and the voices in her head, all set to crunchy metal riffs.
One Eyed Doll is on a rare headlining tour as they work their way crosscountry towards their hometown of Austin, and the band’s growth in popularity was evident at the Marquis. While previous tours have seen the pair opening for established metal acts like Otep and Mushroomhead, fans sporting OED t-shirts and girls in long pigtails and painted faces packed the floor on Tuesday night, singing along to every word and even ruining some of the punchlines in Kimberly’s pre-song introductions. The band also used bright LEDs and strobes to create a psychotic background of light and color, perfectly in tune with the music’s escaped inmate sensibilities.
Earlier in the night, local Colorado band Arcanium had demolished the theater with their sizzling brand of crunchy thrash, pulling in a strong fanbase boasting band t-shirts and moshing on the small Marquis floor. Gear problems in the first song barely dented the band’s momentum, as they were helped out by One Eyed Doll’s Junior lending an amp head and got right back to melting faces.
Arcanium boasts some serious metal power, and used strong melodic singing from guitarist Riggs to complement frontman J-Sinn’s vein-popping, hyper-aggressive vocals. With fierce lead guitar shredding in almost every song, the band offered a perfect mix of metal, melody and badass stage presence that threatened to blow out the windows of the venue, especially on new song One Man, One Murder (download it free at the band’s website here). Local Denverites already know how good Arcanium is, and it’s only a matter of time until this band reaches critical mass on the national level.
A lot of Arcanium fans seemed to leave after the band’s set, and while that’s a shame, they were more than replaced by die hard fans of One Eyed Doll. Being at a OED show is a bizarre mix between a comedy club and a Slayer pit - you go from laughing to headbanging in seconds, physically knocked around by both the crowd and sonic waves blasting out of the amplifiers, completely powerless to do anything but enjoy the ride as Kimberly pantomimes and high-kicks her way through each song.
Kimberly worked the crowd all night long, having front row fans hold her up as she played horizontally over the floor, and brought a half dozen of her “special helper” fans on stage to dance next to her for a couple of songs. Cheers of “hail Satan!” punctuated one of her more country type ballads, and even the staff at Marquis got in on the fun.
While Kimberly’s deadpan jokes, maniacal energy and crowd interaction are the most obvious parts of a One Eyed Doll set, the strength of the music shone through as well on this headlining set. Songs like Plumes Of Death, Nudie Bar and Monster were catchy and heavy as f*ck, equally enjoyable as straight up metal crushers as they are for their clever lyrical content.
As usual, the set ended with Kimberly jumping off stage to shred through her final riffs on the floor of the mosh pit, then jumping back on stage to crash headfirst into Junior’s drumkit. Then with a frantic “Everyone follow me!”, she led the entire crowd directly to the merch booth, where she stayed to chat, sign and sell t-shirts well into the night.
The first time you see One Eyed Doll shocks you, and the second time you see them you enjoy watching others being shocked for their first time. For my third time with Kimberly and Junior, I realized just how goddamn spectacular the pair are as genuine musicians. The songs have an overwhelming bombast despite lacking a bass guitar, and Junior’s masterful drumming is all Kimberly needs to go off on a metal-as-f*ck riff-fest. I also learned that the band rarely even bothers with a setlist, making their performance art all the more impressive for its spontaneity and brilliance.
If you haven’t already caught the magic that is One Eyed Doll, consider this a vehement reminder to check out both their music and tour dates, because this is a band that is only going to get bigger and better.