Good Nite, and Good Luck


As children, we fear things that go bump in the night. Could they be monsters? Evil spirits? The devil’s minions?

As we age, we realize that most of those frightening sounds probably emanated from our parents having sex in their bedroom — a terrifying thought in its own right.

One of the lousier aspects of growing older is the loss of imagination. Case in point: Analytical website Skynet & Ebert determined in 2015 that people stop exploring new music and bands as early as 33 years old. Bands are culpable of ripping off each other’s sound, lyrics or beats.

Amid that backdrop, now it’s more refreshing than ever before to discover a band with an original sound. That’s especially true in the case of heavy metal. Sure, there may be dozens of subgenres — but, for the most part, once a band gets pigeonholed into one of them, getting out is a Sisyphean task.

And that, dear reader, is what makes San Francisco’s Nite a scary-good band. Formed in 2018 by guitarists Van Labrakis and Scott Hoffman, and with drummer Patrick Crawford and bassist Avinash Mittur in tow, they are popping eyeballs out of sockets and dropping jaws to floors with a sound as fresh as a bouquet of flowers at a farmer’s market.

Labrakis was born in Greece, then lived in Germany for a few years. Now he resides in San Francisco, where he teaches music to private-school students.

“In the past, I was more focused as a producer and sound engineer,” Labrakis recently told the Bad Penny. “That was my main day job. But I’d rather not work on music that I’m not proud of.”

When asked how COVID affected Nite’s plans to make, release and tour behind their recently released second album, Voices of the Kronian Moon (Season of Mist), he gave a surprising answer: Nite lucked out.

“I don’t want to say this, because the pandemic is a terrible thing and so many people died — but it was positive for us,” he said. “The first nine months of the pandemic, we actually finished album. … I like how it all played out in a good way for us. At the end of the day, nobody got sick, and we’re really grateful that everything worked out. And I think now the timing is perfect for us. Everything clicked and fell into place: Right after we put the album out, we tour with one of our favorite bands, Bewitcher. It actually turned out almost perfect.”

Now, Nite is picking up speed at a rapid clip that wouldn’t have occurred in their wildest imagination. But while it might sound ironic, at least titularly, Nite’s chief objective is to bring some sunshine into people’s lives.

“The essence of this band is to provide a soundtrack to struggle — and give people courage and strength to make it through difficult times,” he said

Still, Labrakis revealed some anxiety about how quickly his band is blowing up.

“I’d much rather us grow more slowly but steadily, so we don’t explode and then disappear as quickly as we arrived,” he said. “But I’m super-proud of where we are now.”

As Nite grow in popularity metal snobs will nitpick over whether the band should be classified as blackened metal, NWOBHM, technical death metal, melodeath or what have you. On the occasional moment, Nite sound like they could pull off clean-and-catchy power metal, but Labrakis growls raspily and never reaches for falsetto.

Such a debate is futile, though. Nite have forged a sound all their own — perhaps the greatest compliment a band can receive. The musicians occasionally name-drop — or note-drop, rather — Motörhead, Randy Rhoads-era Ozzy Osbourne, Thin Lizzy and some other metal gods. But in those moments, Nite give a slight tip of their hat — they don’t drop to their knees in worship.

Nite is quickly adding converts who bear witness to their alchemic brew, as they tour until April 29 in Oakland. The stretch started Sunday night in Boise at the Shredder, where the turnout was impressively strong for a fairly new band. Better yet, the audience’s enthusiasm grew with each successive song, as Nile fired heat-seeking missiles that destroyed crowd-goers one by one.

Imagine that.

After three songs into a set that lasted about a half-hour, one member of the audience turned to his friend and said, “Dude, this is so good.”

If anyone disagrees, they deserve a long kiss good-nite.

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