Heavy, dude 

Metal mayhem returns to Missoula

For anyone who hasn’t been to The Broadway on a recent Thursday night, the first thing you might notice is the diverse crowd in attendance, many of whom you might not expect to see at a heavy metal concert—namely the girl in an Abercrombie & Fitch hat and the Jimmy Buffett-looking guy in the Hawaiian shirt. Even the music of last week’s band, Priapism (which, for those of you who’ve never read Viagra’s warning label, means an erection lasting more than four hours), keeps you guessing with a saxophone that gives a funky vibe to a hardcore punk jam. “This is a heavy metal show?” you think. That is, until the lead singer rips his shirt off and starts screaming, “God fucking hates you” as heavy guitar riffs and headbanging ensue. That’s better.

Welcome to Thunderkissed Thursdays, Missoula’s newest home for heavy metal and cheap drinks, brought to you by a dedicated bunch who just can’t get enough of hardcore rock. Cherie Fullerton of Demonlily Entertainment is part of that dedicated group, and is largely responsible for the momentum behind Missoula’s growing metal scene. She and two employees, Danica and Eddie, make up the company, which puts on the metal fests at The Other Side twice a year (10 bands for 10 bucks ring a bell?), and was hired by The Broadway in June to take over the Thursday night event.

“I love metal. I just flat love metal,” Fullerton says, repeatedly. And it’s that love of all sorts of metal that has made the weekly event so popular.

After scouring the papers for good local metal shows, she found there simply weren’t any. “When Jay’s [Upstairs] closed [in 2003], it was kind of a black hole,” Fullerton says. So she dedicated Demonlily to providing Missoula with some much-needed rock.

“I think [the metal scene in Missoula] is a lot bigger than people give it credit for,” Fullerton says, especially considering the turnout and variety of people who attend the event. “There is a large demand there, it just hasn’t been recognized before.”

Aaron Traylor, who will soon begin live broadcasts of the event for 96.3 The Blaze, agrees, noting that rock has a more prominent listener fan base in smaller cities like Missoula than hip hop, where it’s second only to—you guessed it—country. And with the success that Thunderkissed Thursdays are seeing, it appears they’re right. “Missoula has never had anything like this,” Traylor says.

The dedication of event planners has played a big role in its success, he says. “That’s what you get when you put a whole bunch of passionate people in one room. It’s a breath of fresh air.”

As Thursday’s MC, The Blaze’s Angel has also been a huge contributor, encouraging listeners to attend and doing so herself weekly.

“Our listeners just didn’t know where to go for real metal,” she says, adding that the killer drink specials (25 cent beers that go up in price by a quarter every half hour and $1 well drinks) don’t hurt business either, and probably account for some of the variety. And unlike at some other venues, the bands drink for free, which is good for Fullerton. “My metalheads drink and are good tippers,” she says.

The Broadway is also happy with the event, which has become its second-biggest draw next to Tuesday’s Comedy Night. “Angel, Danica and Cherie are great to work with,” says Lindsey Seelig, who also comments on Cherie’s influence on Missoula’s metal scene. “If it’s got metal in the name in Missoula, chances are she’s behind it.”

Aside from a few unforeseeable cancellations and lost equipment, Seelig says things have gone well, and are getting better. And according to Angel, cancellations are no problem. “If we don’t have a band, we’ll still rock your ass off anyway” with DJs and karaoke, she says.

Everyone agrees that the nights with the biggest turnout are when local metal favorites Universal Choke Sign play, but that all the events have had a good turnout overall.

“It has made the metal scene in Missoula really happy to finally find a home again,” Fullerton says.

And as a member of the band Priapism put it, “For now, this is the metal scene in Missoula.”

As well as things are doing, everyone remains hopeful that it will continue to gain in popularity. “Once school is back in session, we’ll be getting some pretty kickass bands,” Fullerton promises.

Aaron Traylor thinks things will continue as long as the same dedicated group of people stay involved. “A lot of people think it has staying power as long as the same people keep organizing it,” says Traylor, who adds that when college is back in session, things will probably blow up: “This is just the calm before the storm.”

And Fullerton says Demonlily will continue booking bands of all varieties, as long as they can rock, for “as long as we can do it.” Probably the only type of music you won’t see, she says, is emo. “It gives me a twitch.”

Thunderkissed Thursdays occur weekly at The Broadway Sports Bar, 1609 W. Broadway, at 8 PM. $3. Metal Mania 2 rocks The Other Side, 1100 Strand, on Sat., Aug. 25, at 3 PM. $10.
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