Concert Review// Bogart’s/ Cincinnati, OH/8.3.2017

Royal Blood

Royal Blood 8.2.2017/Bogart’s, Cincinnati, OH
Photo Credit: Linette Britt

Less than 2 months after the release of their second studio album, Royal Blood wasted no time in getting their newest material to their rabid fans, hitting the road on a US tour that started early June and runs through mid-August. Hitting up most of the major US festivals, they have been popping in and out of outlying cities in between doing headlining shows that have been packed to capacity. Cincinnati was on the way to two shows at Chicago’s music mega-festival, Lollapalooza where they played an aftershow at Lincoln Hall, which was -(interestingly)-  the night before their main stage appearance.

The new album has seen much success on the rock charts in the US and abroad. The unique space that Royal Blood fills in the rock music scene is a special formula that is the result of the chemistry and creative interplay between the two artists. It’s a symbiosis that has served them well on their debut album, “Out of The Black” and now on “How Did We Get So Dark?” Not sitting on their laurels (but getting some much-needed rest), the two conceived to entertain other elements, pushing their signature sound on this new album, stretching the limits of their own prowess, with a resolute to create an ardent set of tracks they would feel gratified with and go to new places.

The result is a set of intoxicating tracks that poke at the wounds, regrets, and misfortunes of relationships, with massive low-frequency riffs, swinging R&B groove, and unexpected rhythmic changes. Kerr also added to the dynamic by injecting more keyboards, which personally, I enjoyed, as well as Kerr’s own layered vocal harmonies.  Thatcher attacks and withdraws in a controlled drum style that punctuates each track, defining and yielding to Kerr’s lamentations. Then there is push and pull – on songs like “She’s Creeping,” “Hole in Your Heart” and the lead single, “How Did We Get So Dark?” — diving in and out of big fat bass lines with intention. The album is indeed dark, dauntless and unconventional — you wouldn’t expect any different from these two, right?

Refreshing to this album is more vocal driven songs, allowing Kerr to show more of his vocal range with several falsettos that play perfectly into the tormented lyrics.  Don’t worry though, Kerr isn’t turning into a pop crooner anytime soon. There are plenty of raucous, angsty wails and howls to drive the point home. It does make me wonder how a few of these tracks might sound broken down and unplugged, like the unsettling and haunting, ‘Sleep.’

The new songs translated well live, and it didn’t take long for the crowd to be whipped into a fury with songs from their first album intertwined with the new tracks. With two albums to play from, the band treated the audience to pretty much the whole enchilada —   1 hour and 15 minutes of some of the freshest hard rock to fill their tummies.

Royal Blood was hand- picked by Queens of the Stone Age to open for a bunch of dates on their Fall Tour of their soon to be released Villains album, due out on August 25th.

Check out Royal Bloods’ remaining US dates below (some are SOLD OUT already).

You can find all things Royal Blood at www.royalblood.com including their newly released album which is available on all the usual suspects – iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and Spotify.

 

 

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Concert Review//Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes/ Cobra Lounge/ Chicago, IL 5.15.17

British outfit Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes may have only been a band for a little over 2 years, but already have found their sweet spot —  a unique interplay of raucous punk and hard rock that dances on the fringes of mayhem. Frank Carter’s newest group can most clearly be described as the love child of his former band – the fiercely hardcore, Gallows, and his short- lived upbeat pop project, Pure Love. The two bands couldn’t be further apart stylistically if they tried, yet somehow, they seem to have influenced the sonic shape of the sound of the band, and their debut album, Modern Ruin (Jan 2017 – International Death Cult).IMG_7576

How fitting that they would be playing at a very small club in the heart of industrial Chicago, called the Cobra Lounge. To my surprise, I found many people who have been fans of the band since the early days of Frank Carter’s first punk band, Gallows.

Raging like a bull in a china shop, Frank Carter is truly the juggernaut he proposes to be, delivering songs in his live performance with fervent soul-bearing balls-to-the-wall physicality and conviction.  The audience returned every ounce of intensity —  rushing the stage, stage diving, and belting out songs word for word. The Rattlesnakes held up their end —  meeting the challenges of matching Frank’s intensity and swagger with commanding drum work and potent, fierce guitar riffs. They definitely aren’t a back up to Frank . They are his wings. The transparent yet powerful message of the band’s lyrics provided a confessional for Carter (and the listener), all the while still giving a glimpse of hope through the despair, as in songs like “Thunder”, laden with dark imagery of immigration and the stark realization of how we let our fears overcome us.

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“They’re all mothers and fathers and children too/And you’re scared of them ’cause they don’t look like you.”

Notably, Carter’s infamous primal-scream puts an exclamation on the truths of inequality, injustice, and pain that bring a depth to the performance that one can see is authentic. It’s relatable because it is the world we are all living in.

Since debuting with Gallows in 2005, the years and experiences have found an older, wiser Frank Carter, who now has his own family (one of the songs on the album is for his 2 year old daughter). He cares about his audience and the fan community relationships, delivering a speech to this Chicago audience about caring for one another with respect and equality inside and outside their gigs.  

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After meeting him Frank later in the evening, I could see his excitement for what the future holds with the way the USA embraced them on this tour. They have enjoyed much success in their native UK, with “Modern Ruin” peaking at number #7 in the UK album list. The band has announced a winter UK TOUR which starts December 1st in Bristol at O2 Academy. Dates are already selling out.

Having lived in New York for 5 years, Frank calls the USA his “home away from home” and is very much looking forward to returning to the USA to do another more extensive tour as soon as they can. From the reception they have received on this most recent North American Tour, it can’t come too soon for their fans’ liking.

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Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes are the new hardcore punk that delivers from the head and the heart, relentless and fearless. Their music is liberating, feeding your soul as it tears it apart at the same time. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes :
Frank Carter – vocals
Dean Richardson – guitars
Tom ‘Tank’ Barclay – bass guitar
Gareth Grover – drums
Thomas Mitchener – guitars& synth
Check out the video for their song,  ‘ Lullaby’ here — 
 https://youtu.be/DDgekKQ8nLc

 

 

 

Concert Review// Biffy Clyro- House of Blues, Chicago IL / 5.5.17

Scotland’s rock Darlings, Biffy Clyro have made a much anticipated return to the US on their 2017 North American Tour supporting the release of their 7th studio album, Ellipsis. The trio consisting of lead singer/guitarist, Simon Neil, James Johnston (bass/vocals), and his brother Ben(drums/vocals)- have had much success in the UK and overseas, garnishing four studio albums that have reached the top five in the UK album chart, and their sixth studio album, Opposites, reaching number one in the charts. It doesn’t stop there.

In 2013 they received the NME award for Best British Band, and went on to headline the main stage at the Leed & Reading Festival. The band have sold in excess of 1,200,000 albums and 400,000 singles in the UK alone.

Playing some of the largest show’s across the continent, Biffy Clyro continues to be passionate about growing their presence in the US, while staying humble about their success and excited about their future.

Simon was just 15 when he paired up with Ben, and later, with Ben’s twin brother, James.. Ever since then these three have been inseparable, a merry brotherhood.

Biffy Clyro are are well-known for their commanding, guitar-heavy booming anthems and more recently, with Ellipsis, the creation of some more eloquent, poetic tracks, authentic and sincere — a little glimpse behind the curtain of a band that has been together for over 20 years. It is a life committed to music, love of life, family, friends and their unique brotherhood that has stood the test of time.

A nearly sold-out crowd filled the iconic Chicago House of Blues. The front row found several die-hard fans lining the barrier to celebrate Biffy’s triumphant return to the US. The opener’s were heady and brilliant – Atlanta based alt- rockers (think part Radiohead, part Sigur Ross) filled the room with their waves of colossal atmospheric rock walls, invoking a sonically provocative hard edged sound with emotive vocals. It bends and distorts and takes you on a journey. Not to mention the vocal range of their lead singer, Tanner Merritt. Enough to make any male singer jealous (and even some females)! OBrother’s new album, Endless Light, is out now. Snap a copy up, you won’t be disappointed..

Standing still as statues to start their performance, with an enchanting hymn playing in the background, Biffy took off like a charge to hit hard with one of their newest single’s, “Wolves of Winter “, and we were off!

Both fragile and ferocious were a part of their 21 song set list tonight. To Biffy’s delight, the audience came ready to match their energy and raised the roof, singing along and fist pumping to the band’s tried and true hits, as well as their newest tracks. USA, and specifically, Chicago, gave them a warm welcome back and it only added to their frenzy. You wouldn’t know they weren’t playing to a huge stadium of die hard fans. The love was mutual.

Then the band went into a complete onslaught, full of conviction with rapid fire of “Different People,” “Sounds Like Balloons,”  and “Mountains.” The set showed that Biffy is not letting off the gas pedal or resting on their laurels. Intermingled were some more vulnerable songs –

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two were specifically  entrancing, showcasing Simon’s charm and charisma, “Re-Arrange” and “Medicine.”

If this show is any forecast of the commitment Biffy has to their US fans, it has been solidified.  Simon said in a recent interview, “America is the last terrain in the world for us to break through, and that puts a fire in our bellies.” Game on!

Biffy Clyro’s 2017 North American Tour end in May when they play at Rock on the Range Festival in Columbus Ohio on May 21st, 2017.

Remaining tour dates and tickets can be found at http://bit.ly/biffyNATour  .