C O L U M N S
The Pretty Reckless / Holy White Hounds / Them Evils
After a pre-rock show warm-up of all the Coke you can do at the Coca-Cola store (international flights of suds!), I headed over to find my kind --1,000 lost souls all garbed in black. After a little segregation mix-up of VIP (I'm not) and general admission (for life), I finally found the back of the line and waited out the inevitable "opening of the door" ceremony. Once in, I located the familiar staircase super-center offering a small platform to stand on and a comfortable bench for my 40 years-old bones. I'd leave it to the kids to do the heavy lifting; stand up and shout all night while I manned the bench and suppressed the aches of my coke-filled bladder.
First up was opening act Them Evils. Apparently, the crowd and I had no idea who they were...BUT...after a scorching half-hour set I was quick to browse the various streaming services for their stuff. The Orange County, CA trio were a break-neck wallop of blue-collar blues, heavily distorted and tight as a bridge rivet...I mean the 20s and 30s bridges that were indestructible and brawny. Guitarist and vocalist Jordan Griffin is quite the showman, bouncing around the stage playing cool licks and looking the part of the young and hip axe-slinger. Bassist Jake Massanari was equally energetic and even took to the floor to slap bass and hands during one number. Jake explained since most of the crowd didn't know their stuff that a couple of cover tunes were thrown in. With that, nostalgic opening riffs opened up to "It's a Long Way to the Top" as the crowd sang along. To close out the riveting performance the band NAILED "Ace of Spades". All together I'd describe the act as a dose of The Answer and The Sword with a mid to high range of vocals that sounded like prime-time Vince Neil. Stream their stuff man.
After a very quick off and on transition the stage filled with the four-piece known as Holy White Hounds, another band I knew nothing about. The crowd seemed familiar with the act and some were singing along and yelling out band member names like they were old friends. I'd have to describe the band as a bit of Foo Fighters crossed with a more relaxed Middle Class Rut. The humorous exchanges between guitarist/vocalist Brenton Dean and James Manson was probably worth the price of admission. The two played together while PLAYING together. The guys frequently wrestled, kissed, groped and rocked the mic back and forth with a funny conversation that may have lost some audience members. At one point Brenton introduced James as various people ranging from Andre the Giant and Yosemite Sam to Peter Griffin. The clever guitarist responded with voices that were dead ringers for the characters. Amazing. Overall it was an entertaining 45 minutes set.
The Pretty Reckless seemed to take an eternity to come on. I believe there must have been some technical issues or performance delays backstage that led to guitarist Ben Phillips coming out to throw some free swank out to the impatient crowd. Finally, the band hit the stage to opener "Follow me Down" that saw singer Taylor Momsen in a long black coat begging the crowd to follow her down to the river. Can I go? The group followed in quick succession with "Since You're Gone" from their first album 'Light Me Up'. Momsen's vocals sounded a little more aggressive and purposefully scratchy on this raw cut. After the song Momsen advised the crowd that a new album was out and the next song, "Oh My God", was the newest single. She took the coat off to reveal a black tank-top to match the black skinny-pants and boots. Like the studio version her vocals matched the higher register and scratchy tone. She grabbed a guitar to pair up with Phillips on another "older" cut called "Make Me Wanna Die". The crowd ate it up and sang nearly every word.
Momsen announced another older cut and went into "My Medicine". It was at this moment that I realized a lot of the early material has a bit of a Garbage feel to it...the band...not the disposable debris. "Sweet Things" was introduced by the PA system announcing it was a story about Little Red Riding Hood. All but the drummer played a part in the vocals as the song broke into slower and more rhythmic boogie that erupted with Momsen's sexy stage antics. Another new track came next, "Living in the Storm", a sunset-strip gutter pleaser that possessed the same energy and heaviness as the album version. Momsen didn't have to beg the crowd to sing along to "Heaven Knows", a truly astounding moment where band and audience became one for every single word. When Momsen sang the opening lines, "Jimmy's in the back with a pocket of high" the whole crowd unified. It's hard to find that sort of intimate relationship of artist and fan. It continued with "Going to Hell" that tore off whatever remained of the roof. The band said goodnight and returned five minutes later with "Fucked Up World" that had Momsen dancing with a tambourine. All but the drummer left the stage mid-song and allowed Jamie Perkins to mesmerize the crowd with a scorching drum solo that ascended to greatness with a fantastic light show. The band roared back to the crowd and finished off the song, set and night. Brilliant on all fronts.
It was a great night and having three really good rock bands on tap earned a tour trophy. It seems like today's tours are a conglomerate of genres and styles that can sometimes be confusing to the average concert goer. This night was pure rock and roll magic that delivered the goods in triumphant fashion. The Pretty Reckless answered their own question --Who You Selling For? The same fans that lined up to see Carl Perkins talk about his blue suede shoes. The same crowd that came to life watching Elvis shake those hips. The same mop-headed floor sweepers that slid side to side with Chuck Berry's riffs. The rock and roll fans. That's who you are selling for. And that's who bought it.
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