On December 15, 2017, fans from all around New England and beyond gathered at the historic Palladium in Worcester, MA for a sold-out final performance from Vanna, a band that helped to define the hardcore and metal scene in the region. In frontman Davey Muise’s own words, this night was to serve as a funeral for Vanna.
And what a sendoff it was–with both the upstairs and downstairs stages sporting incredible local and national touring acts that represented Vanna’s friends and favorite acts. The upstairs was so full throughout the night that it was almost impossible to get up close, and sported headliner Old Wounds, along with major acts On Broken Wings, Kublai Khan and END. Local/regional bands Sharptooth and Roseview opened up the stage.
Meanwhile, the downstairs stage saw performances by Eighteen Visions, Knocked Loose, Lions Lions, Like Pacific, Currents, and local act Actor/Observer.
As it was so packed packed upstairs, I stuck around downstairs and caught most of the sets on that stage. The crowd really got going by the time Lions Lions came on for a bouncy set of pop-punk, and things only got rowdier during Like Pacific.
At last it was time for hardcore/beatdown band Knocked Loose to kick things up another notch. The crowd erupted as the band took to the stage. Egged on by guitarist Issac Hale’s calls for “Boston Hardcore” to get things going, three massive mosh pits opened up as they launched into “Oblivion’s Peak.” Their punishingly heavy set went on to include fan-favorites “All My Friends,” and “Deadringer” amongst other tracks.
Eighteen Visions was up next. The stage was flooded with fog as the band delivered a heavy set that began with their hit “She Looks Good In Velvet.” These guys have only recently reunited and this was–if I’m not mistaken–their first show in the Northeast if not all of the east coast since breaking up and reforming.
Finally it was time for Vanna! The band had a boatload of surprises for fans during their set. They began with “The Few and the Far Between,” “The Lost Art of Staying Alive,” and “Toxic Pretender.” Lauren Kashan of Sharptooth joined the band onstage during the next song, “Year of the Rat,” belting out the lyrics with Muise. A bit later, former drummer Eric Gross came on stage to play “Void” with the band. The surprise guests kept coming, with former vocalist Chris Preece joining the band for “Trashmouth,” before the ENTIRE old lineup of Vanna took to the stage.
Muise yielded the stage for Preece, joined by former vocalist Joe Bragel, former drummer Brandon Davis, and former guitarist Evan Pharmakis for some of Vanna’s earliest material, including the tracks “We Ate the Horse You Rode In On,” and “A Dead Language for a Dying Lady.” They continued into the classic Vanna track “Safe to Say,” with just Preece and Pharmakis as the older additions to the current lineup. Hearing Pharmakis singing the clean vocals to that chorus took me back in time to 2009 when I first saw Vanna in a VFW hall in the middle of nowhere, Maine. Vanna is a band that many grew up with here in New England. There was no more fitting way to say goodbye to the band, than to pay homage to all the members of the band, past and present.
The current lineup then returned to blast few several more fan-favorites from the more recent records, including “Paranoia Euphoria,” “Piss Up a Rope,” “Digging,” and “Mutter.” Vanna closed out the show by bringing on all of the former members for a performance of “I am the Wind, You are the Flower.” Before a final song with the current lineup, “Flower.” What a show, what a sendoff! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a reunion tour maybe a decade down the road, but in the event that doesn’t happen, I think the fans who attended on this night now have closure. Thank you, Vanna!