Placate attracts slightly deranged audiences

Regina Cassell

If you walk into a local venue and hear a man screaming at the top of his lungs, resist the urge to dial 9-1-1. This, too, is considered music.

Admittedly, heavy metal band Placate is not for the faint-hearted. If music-goers can stand the deafening volume, they have only survived half the battle. The other half comes when mingling with Placate’s devoted (yet slightly deranged) fan base.

When Placate performed recently at the Static Bar, a new live music venue in Topeka, the crowd quickly divided themselves into noticeable factions. One consisted of the heart of Placate’s fans: the sneering, moshing, beer-reeking handful of angsty men whose violence betrays their Oedipal complexes.

“I see people getting excited and I try to instigate,” said Mike Kesel to explain his dangerous, vengeful antics in front of the stage.

Another large group was made up of the weak, the frail and the feminine, who lingered near the safety of the bar and the three bald, formidable bartenders who guarded it. Bri Hodge, one member of this set, cowered with her friends in a corner.

“They seem to get the crowd really pumped,” said Hodge. “I know better than get into the middle of that.”

The remainder of the clientele defied categorization. This third faction included large women wearing bathing suit tops, smarmy, unintelligible men with bad breath and an excited, drunken assembly of youths congregated around a boxing videogame. This group may have ventured out on a cold winter night to see live music but it is more likely they live in the walls of the seedy Static Bar.

There is noticeable energy passing between band members as they play. The bass and lead guitarist treat the stage like a pinball machine; they are the pinballs. Their cables tangle and untangle throughout their set as they narrowly avoid careening into each other. Drummer Dean Linton is often shirtless in his drumming fury and front man Darrel Smart is close to swallowing the microphone in an effort to become even louder. It works. During the first song of their set at the Static Bar, they short out the sound system. Three times.

What could these musicians possibly be thinking about while executing such a performance? The eclectic answer spans from sex to alcohol to sex to naked women.

“I am picturing you naked right now,” grinned bassist Erik Swahney.

Although Placate plays at places like the Static Bar, which has no V.I.P. room and a queue that consists of a young girl throwing up on the sidewalk, this Manhattan band has achieved a certain kind of fame in Topeka.

“This band has created a ripple,” said long-time fan, Chris Pelletier. “Even if they all get killed in a car crash tonight, their music goes on forever.”

Thankfully, the band members don’t take themselves this seriously.

“We’d like to make some sort of mark on the world,” said guitarist Greg Monty. “But we’re mostly just trying to have fun.”

Don’t let the fans or the venue fool you – the members of Placate are less deranged than their audience and their notes are no where near as flat as the Static Bar’s tonic water. Something has held this band together for almost three years. According to the lead singer, it boils down to a simple equation.

“We feed off of each other,” said Smart. “It’s like we’re all giving each other lap dances. Lap dances of love.”