The all-ages club on S. Division Avenue in Grand Rapids hosted its first show in 12 years on Friday. Local Spins was there to capture the energetic vibe and the images.
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Lined up down the street and around the block, hardcore kids of past and present — clad in black — eagerly awaited the reopening of Skelletones in Grand Rapids’ Heartside District on Friday evening.
After being shuttered for nearly 12 years, the indie venue at 133 S. Division Ave. has been revived this weekend by owners Mark “Mirf” Leech and his wife, Annette, to the excitement of many.
Opening night featured performances by Worst Self, Bitter Truth, American Cheese and xIron Sharpens Ironx. Festivities continue tonight (Saturday, Sept. 11) with Prison Suicide, Split Up, Roundhouse, Chain Ripper, Gray Rapidian. Admission is $5 and doors open at 7 p.m.
Inside, down a single flight of stairs to the venue, the pristine concert hall stretches to a sizable stage and bright lights. A technical mishap on opening night forced the venue to dig up the original soundboard for its own resurgence, hearkening back to sweaty, crowd-surfing shows that took place in the space.
“It’s really hard to recapture lightning in a bottle, but I’ve heard a lot of mixed thoughts going on from different people. Some people are stoked about it,” says Luke Dean, who performs with Roundhouse on Saturday.
“Some people have never been here. Some people are skeptical, and some people think it’s gonna do huge things. Personally, I’m just really encouraged.”
The all-ages venue prohibits alcohol and drugs, offering soda and energy drinks for sale, along with an assortment of snacks at a small bar.
A mosh pit forms front and center like a hurricane of bodies spinning in a frenzy to the music. Guitar solos are crunchy. Breakdowns are heavy. And spirits are high.
Highlights included Worst Self, who brought a scorching set of originals to light up the stage. The three-piece rambled through a rollicking set. Their songs are ominous, heavy and theatrical.
American Cheese played energetic anthems of love and loss. Wearing a basketball jersey and baseball cap, the band’s frontman belted over the crowd in angsty tones. The set included a cover of Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” which had the crowd singing along.
“Sometimes people have different opinions at this venue. I think my bottom line is there are young people here. I’ve been in basements with them for the past decade of my life,” Dean reasons.
“Now they have a place to go. So that’s what’s exciting for me more than anything.”.
PHOTO GALLERY: Opening Night at Skelletones (9/10/21)
Photos by Derek Ketchum