It had been a few years since Nashville’s Escondido was in town. That was fabulous gig at the Lost Lake Lounge on a magical evening. They came back with a few openers that I hadn’t heard of.
I only caught the last few songs by Sammy Brue , a very young (maybe 17) but amiable chap with an acoustic guitar, long hair and a heart full of longing that needs to get out. It was he on stage with an acoustic guitar and a lovely lady that had a violin and I like what I’d heard, even though it was only a song and a half. Wanna catch this guy next time (and make sure to check out his 2017 release on the New West label, I Am Nice).
I hadn’t heard of Kolars (above) but I know this much. They’re a duo, man/woman who call Los Angeles home and used to be in a band called He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister, but decided on a better name. The dude (Rob Kolars) is on guitar and vocals and the gal (Lauren Brown) is well, I think it’s a bass drum that she stands on and does sort of a tap dance on it while smacking the other drums with sticks. It’s quite a sight to see. They had a cool rock n’ roll vibe, with as dash of rockabilly and I’m guessing some Cramps influence in there, too (some dream pop in there as well). Not even sure if they have any records out but they’re well worth your precious time (they didn’t even do their Neutral Milk Hotel cover and were still righteous).
The folks of Escondido, Jessica Maros on acoustic guitar and vocals and Tyler James on guitar and occasional trumpet (plus a solid, entertaining rhythm section) hit the stage a little after 10 pm and proceeded to play a superb set. I know it was a Wednesday night, but there really should’ve been a lot more people here. This is Escondido, people! Off the first record, 2012’s The Ghost of Escondido, we heard “Cold October,’ “Black Roses, “Rodeo Queen” and while on their sophomore effort, 2016’s Walking with a Stranger, they pulled out “Heart is Black,” “Try” and few others and rthey also played out a few new cuts that sounded terrific (especially “You’re Not Like Anybody Else”).
I can’t wait for the new record and you guys need to give this band a serious listen if you’ve never heard ‘em before. The songs are lovely (a little Mazzy Star with lots of twang) with plenty of heart and Ms. Maros has a voice from the gods.
In addition to great songs the band are truly appreciative of their audience (always a plus) amd just loved to play. The next time they hit Denver I’ll be there again (and again and again and again).
And the BLURT brigade was in the house: Forty indie, rap, punk, classical, country, dance and pop acts, complete with robots, puppets and wrestlers, that you definitely needed to see. Raise your hand if you did… Check out some exclusive videos below. (Pictured above: Los Chinchillos Del Caribe)
BY JASON GROSS
After about 20 years of going to this Texas fest, you may know your way around Austin but there’s always the ever-present temptation to pig out on not just BBQ but also pig out on music and wear yourself out, which I always do. While recuperation time is in order, if you keep a good written/photo diary, you can at least remember, “Oh yeah, that was a good time!” This year, I clocked in about 70 acts, 40 miles of walking around, and enough cooked meats to clog up my arteries for years.
Sad to say, years after getting over the 2014 car chase that killed four people, Austin and SXSW were rocked by a bomber who thankfully came to justice not long after the fest, but not before another bomb threat stopped the Roots’ traditional closing night party. Good thing that, along with Austin keeping Weird, it’s also resilient.
Otherwise, along with some steady indie band stand-bys, I also found plenty of good newer acts that are worth supporting, either by going to their shows or buying their music or getting their merch (that’s a non-subtle hint, mind you). Hopefully, in this mix of forty indie, rap, punk, classical, country, dance and pop acts, complete with robots, puppets and wrestlers, you’ll discover SOMETHING that you like.
You’ll also see SX interviews coming from Robin Cook of some of the artists below soon here- Anna Burch, Fragile Rock and more.
A Place To Bury Strangers at Cheer Up Charlie’s (3/17/2018): One part My Bloody Valentine (screeching noise over sweet melodies), one part Butthole Surfers (smashed their instruments after the first song), one part Lightning Bolt (played part of the set in the middle of the crowd). Secret weapon: power drummer Lia Simone Braswell.
Abhi the Nomad at Tap Room (3/16/2018): You might not know this Indian rapper who was West Coast (and sounds it) and now an Austinite but you should- he put out one of the catchiest albums of ‘18 and tours with a good drummer and singer.
Andrew W.K. at Hotel Vegas Patio (3/14/2018): Don’t you feel a little better just knowing he’s still out there partying? Sure, there’s plenty of drunk kids ready to mosh with him but still…
Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires at Sidewinder Outside (3/13/2018): A garage version of Springsteen from Alabama, complete with progressive politics and a wild guitarist = a sweaty stage show.
Anna Burch at Valhalla (3/13/2018): Sweet voiced indie-folkie who deserves your attention. Indelible tunes and great teeth to boot (admittedly jealous).
Cadence Weapon at Swan Dive Patio (3/14/2018): Not chart competition for Drake but this impressive Canadian rapper still has a great jam in the form of “My Crew (Woo).”
Canshaker Pi at Waller Ballroom (3/14/2018): The Dutch invasion? The catchy, raw indie rockers might led the way for it.
CGBG’s Panel (3/16/2018): Featuring Tina ‘n’ Chris (Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club) and Richard Lloyd (Television) reminiscing about the golden age of punk, plus giving props to Terry Ork who (despite Hilly’s rep) was the real hero/booker of the club.
Cut Chemist at Palm Door on Sabine (3/14/2018): Well-named classic turntablist did his thing with the help of cartoon, old-school graphics screening behind him
Lucy Dacus at Scoot Inn (3/13/2018): One of the most talked about acts at SX, this sad (but not miserable) indie girl’s best song is “I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore,” which should tell you something about her. And in case you’re wondering, it’s pronounced “DAY-kus.”
Davie at St. David’s Sanctuary (3/15/2018): Very appropriate that this R&B singer bared his soul in a church setting.
Jesse Dayton at Hotel San Jose (3/14/2018): A former X member and Waylon band member who kicks up some rockabilly dust is someone you’d wanna follow.
DMC at Clive Bar (3/16/2018): Still the King of Rock and bearing a Motorhead T-shirt, he trotted out the old school classics and right wondered why if no one asks Springsteen when he’s gonna retire, why should they ask him?
Doctor Octagon at Cedar Street Courtyard (3/14/2018): A real treat, not only to have the bizarre hip hop Dr. on call again but to have him perform alongside Dan the Automator and QBert.
Dual Core at Karma Lounge (3/17/2018): Nerdcore (the funny, indie backpack set) was represented well by this Austinite. Didn’t hurt that he bought shots for the whole crowd, which probably helped us with the singalongs.
Eureka California at Beerland (3/16/2018): Actually hailing from Athens, GA, this boy/girl garage duo has a better drummer than Meg White and comes on more fiercely and with less roots than Jack White, which hopefully means that they won’t get a drunk frat-boy crowd like JW.
Jad Fair at Hotel Vegas (3/13/2018): Brandishing a flexible neck guitar that led him to do some wonderfully bizarre wailing, this indie legend romped through a set of classic Half Japanese songs.
Ezra Furman at Parish (3/17/2018): This mewling wear-it-on-your-sleeve indie guy in dresses still has Jonathan Richman’s irascible side to him but with much more urgency than JoJo.
FAVX at BD Riley’s (3/15/2018): A Spanish garage rock trio with an arty, post-punk tinge to ‘em, they might offend purists but they also put out one of the best records of ‘18.
Francine Thirteen at the Hideout (3/17/2018): Technically from Dallas but definitely on another planet vibe, this chanteuse/shaman performed a ritual-laden performance with help from her sister on harp. Her motto is “Magic of sacred virgins & holy whores” and she makes you believe it.
Fragile Rock at Maggie Mae’s (3/14/2018): Calling them the best puppet emo band ever might sound great until you can’t think of other puppet emo bands but these guys & gals are a hoot- think the Muppet’s Dr. Teeth meet Spinal Tap.
Gold Casio at Friends (3/17/2018): I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t have a soft-spot for a glammed-out dance pop band with good tunes and that’s what this Portland quartet serves up.
Great Good Fine OK at Sidewinder Outside (3/14/2018): With such a casual name, you’d think that they’re blasé but this rainbow-clad dance act had strong enough tunes to have the crowd sing along so they’re doing something right.
Steve Hauschildt at Central Presbyterian Church (3/17/2018): Ambient night in a religious setting is worth attending but most of the bill was kind of snoozy except for this dynamic composer who’s not afraid of beats or melodies.
Idles at Latitude 30 (3/14/2018): They’re jokers for sure but also deadly serious and rabid punks, just this side short of hardcore but barely less intense, with one of 2017’s finest platters too.
Durand Jones at Scoot Inn (3/13/2018): Ran across him while waiting for another act but it was some good serendipity there as he’s a soul man who deserves the press/credit that fellow SX act Lee Fields gets, not to mention Nathaniel Rateliff (also at SX).
Topaz Jones at 800 Congress (3/15/2018): A NJ native who was pleasantly surprised to find many Jersey peeps at the show. Disappointing not to hear this R&B/rap act’s wonderful “Toothache” single but he was plenty of other sensuous grooves to spare (plus a cool Miles T-shirt).
Khalid at Trinity Warehouse (3/15/2018): Wasn’t totally sold on his R&B star but this packed-house show proved that he not only had the songs but also the stage presence (love that pink suit) to pull it off.
Kino Kimino at Sidewinder Outside (3/16/2018): Kim Talon is a musical threat for sure- not just film making but also Sonic Youth connections and a lively stage presence.
Life at Latitude 30 (3/15/2018): Like Oasis, they’re led by a pair of bro’s but they’re much more bloke-ish than big-headed jerks, which is how you’d want a UK punk combo to be. Singer Mex is a hoot with weird stage moves, including bar walks and speaker crawls.
Living Museum at Waller Ballroom (3/13/2018): Think of it more as a strange NC-17 performance art series than a music act per se. Let’s just say that these Dutch artists weren’t afraid to bare it all in action painting, tech-controlled music, laser light performing and some completely hairless writhing woman lying on a bar.
Los Chinchillos Del Caribe at the Speakeasy (3/16/2018): They call themselves a Cumbia (Spanish dance) act but it’s more spot on to say that they’re a Puerto Rican luchador (wrestling mask) rap act that’s as fun as a ring match.
Lung at Swan Dive (3/17/2018): A power duo of a cellist and drummer mixes prog rock, metal and classical the way that King Crimson did in the good ol’ days, even without Uncle Bobby’s guitar.
Tunde Olaniran at Side Bar (3/14/2018): The pride of Flint Michigan (which he reminds us is still under a govt-induced health threat), this Afro-Futurist is always a snappy dresser and has a dancer duo that are his version of the SW1’s.
Ponytrap at the Hideout (3/16/2018): A string duo with a trio of giant robot drummers sounds like a novelty but they pull it off well enough that they should earn a spot on a Bang on a Can marathon (hint, hint).
Pussy Riot at the Main (3/13/2018): I preferred the stirring theatre piece that they did at SX last year but to see this harassed Russian punk-dance group persist was inspirational enough.
Shame at Barracuda (3/15/2018): In the new Punk-Brit sweepstakes, they also have a stand-out, acrobatic frontman like the others but are much more active on stage than their most trad-Brit-pop album would make you think.
Shamir at Sidewinder Outside (3/13/2018): First R&B, now kind of rock, he proved his credentials with his own guitar/bass/drums trio and a homemade Velvet Underground jacket to boot.
Shopping at Volcom (3/15/2018): For my money, the best post-punk revival group around now, especially with Rachel Aggs’ dance moves and the way that they trade off shouted vocals that boosts all their songs.
Superchunk at the Main (3/13/2018): The ol’ indie rock standby happened to be put out not just their best album of their career but one of the best of ‘18 and celebrated with a blazing show, featuring Sabrina Ellis (Sweet Spirit/A Giant Dog) who is headed for stardom herself.
Superorganism at Stubb’s (3/14/2018): One of the fest’s buzz bands for sure, this weird little UK dance-pop troupe provided some danceable fun.
Thick at Side Bar (3/16/2018): Brooklyn punk grrls make good noise.
Trail of Dead at Swan Dive Patio (3/14/2018): Now a quartet but with extra members in tow to bring them up to a sextet, they did a set of songs they only performed once before. You’d never know it- it sounded like well-thrashed out material they harnessed over years.
Touts at Latitude 30 (3/13/2018): Irish punk lads (and Clash/Jam fans) who sound it, especially when they address the crowd in a thick brogue and feature a song like “Bombscare.” Nice mod haircuts too.
Waco Brothers at Shangri-La (3/15/2018): It just wouldn’t be SXSW without these alt-country cut-ups, who provided bits of Hawkwind and George Michael covers along with a full version of the Small Faces’ “All or Nothing” in tribute to raconteur and Austin homie Ian McLagan. (Ed. note: As Jon Langford is essentially the Patron Saint of Blurt SXSW Past, having designed posters and curated an annual day party during SXSW for us for a number of years, we would like to take this space to extend a hearty “two pints up!” in Jonboy’s direction.)
Kelly Willis at Hotel San Jose (3/14/2018): Now finishing the 3rd decade of her career, this new traditionalist (think George Strait, not Devo) still has that great, booming voice that makes her a country legend.
Motor City meets Mile High City – Globe Hall, to be exact. Pictured above: the band introduces their new merch table official.
BY TIM HINELY
This Detroit, MI fearsome foursome crawled out of the Motor City about the turn of this past decade (2010-ish) and have released three full-length records of grinding post punk and it’s a beautiful thing to these ears. With that sound, part The Fall and part Joy Division, and part American noise (think Jesus Lizard, etc.) you’d think they’ve summered in Manchester or something, but no, Detroit is home. I mean you ever been to Detroit? Me either but I’ve read/heard a lot about it and that’s enough for me. I can now see why vocalist Joe Casey drinks so much. You would too.
Casey was dressed to the nines on this evening, or at least he had a sports coat on over his button up shirt while the other three, guitar/bass/drums, dressed more like…well, me. Jeans, t-shirt and beat-up sneakers. My hearing would’ve gotten beaten up on his night had I not brought along my trusty, squishy blue ear plugs that saved my sorry ass.
With three terrific records under their belt (two on Seattle indie Hardly Art while the latest, 2017’s Relatives in Descent, was released on Domino) the set was culled from all three with healthy dollops from all three (and who doesn’t like dollops?).
Back to Casey, oh sure he can be amiable with the mic on one hand and his can of beer in the other, but give the guy some serious lyrics and he goes from Dr. Jeckyll into Mr Hyde in about three seconds (in the best way possible, like a poor man’s David Yow or something). While Casey crooned like Yow-meets-Como the rest of the band put their heads down, hard hats on, and went to work grinding out gem after bent gem and songs like opener “My Children” “I Forgive You,” “I Stare at Floors” and “Trust Me, Billy” (which sounds like the name of a Killdozer song) all hit we, the fan, square between the eyes (I can see!”).
After much hooting, howling, hollering and harassing bartenders the band came out and played “Scum, Rise!” and called it a night. They got the hell out of Denver, hightailing it out of town with tires squealing and middle fingers raised. On to the next city and vowing never to return to the Mile High City (until next year). ‘mon back, fellas!
N.C. Americana legends hosted an album release (and re-release!) party at the capitol city’s Pour House venue—and packed that House.
BY TODD GUNSHER
String Drag held a party in Raleigh on Friday night, March 9, celebrating the release of their outstanding new record Top Of The World as well as the re-release of 1997’s Steve Earle-produced High Hat. Helping out Kenny, Rob, Luis, and Dan were Scott McCall on guitar and Matt Douglass on saxophone, who sat in on a few songs each. Celebrating over 20 years of making music, they put on a life affirming rock and roll show for the faithful fans who packed the Pour House spending the night dancing and singing along.
Go HERE to read the recent BLURT interview with 6 String Drag and HERE to listen to our premiere of Top Of The World track “Waste Of Time.” (Full disclosure: The new album and reissue are both on BLURT’s sister business Schoolkids Records, and our editor also helped craft the group’s official bio for Schoolkids.)
Live at Chicago’s HideOut venue, the show was officially billed as “The Concert for The Emperor of the Bathroom: A Benefit for Scott McCaughey. Singing the praises of the beloved Minus 5/Filthy Friends/Young Fresh Fellows/R.E.M./Baseball Project musician were The Thirsty Birds: Jon Langford, Nora O’Connor, Kelly Hogan, Dag Juhlin, Max Crawford, Susan Voelz, Jason Narducy, Rick Rizzo and others.According to the organizers, “the Chicago music community sends its love and support to their friend, Scott (who suffered a stroke last November). Assembled are friends who have played with Scott over the years and have survived their fair share of after-show drinks with the man. This show will be a celebration of Scott’s songbook, and proceeds will go towards the medical fund set up by his wife, Mary Winzig, to help cover his medical expenses as he recovers.”
PHOTO GALLERY BY MARTY PEREZ
Portland show’d the love for Scott McCaughey back in January, so Feb. 12, 2018 was Chicago’s turn to embrace the man who some call “Sled”.
The HideOut hosted this gala, which featured the creme de la creme of Chicago’s music society, playing under the one night only moniker: The Thirsty Birds. An exemplary evening of talent was shown and given.
Two real standouts were Jason Narducy’s take on R.E.M.’s “Finest Work Song”, which really had one asking, whatever happen to the passion from the song’s creators? The second, wha tha fuc moment was had during the evening’s closer of “Dear Employer”, sung by two angels—Nora O’Conner & Kelly Hogan—with the passion and reasoning of angels who just might know what it is like to up and quit on the big boss and flip him the bird while on the way out of them pearly gates. It left this reviewer blubbering and quivering in goosebumps, until the room emptied and it was safe to wipe away the tears and take a hit off the inhaler.
Cash was raised and thee good vibes shared was palpable and true. All glad tidings are going towards helping Scott’s safe, speedy, and thorough recovery.
Now, namaste that mutherfucker….
TIM TUTEN OF THE HIDEOUT
LANGFORD & JUHLIN
SHOW ORGANIZER CHRIS CASTANEDA
O’CONNOR & HOGAN
LANGFORD & RIZZO
NARDUCY & BAND
AUCTIONING LANGFORD PAINTING USED FOR THE CONCERT POSTER
Live at Denver’s Larimer Lounge, the British trio charmed all in attendance with their tuneful indie-pop.
BY TIM HINELY
Hey, I’m liking these early shows. This North London trio, who were opening for Porches (a band I hadn’t heard of but must be some kinda big deal as the show was sold out) so they hit the stage at 8 PM sharp. Huzzah!
Back to Girl Ray, much has been written about these three young ladies. Poppy Hankin on guitar/vocals, Sophie Moss on bass and Iris McConnell on drums (they also had a male on keyboards/second guitar as well) who had recorded a slew of singles before they even graduated from high school. Then, last year Moshi Moshi Records released the band’s terrific debut LP, Earl Grey and I was truly surprised (but excited) to see Denver on their tour. I’m not sure what I was doing when I was 19 but I sure as hell wasn’t touring another continent with a band (it all must be a bit surreal for them).
They opened up with the low-key “Stupid Things” (where the keyboardist came in handy) and from there played plenty off off said debut like “Ghosty,” “Preacher,” “Just Like That” and as well as a few of their early singles like the great “Trouble,” “Don’t Go Back at Ten” and they even pulled out a few new songs (none of which I caught the names of).
I’m not sure what song it was but Hankin and Moss did this neat little dance/spin around and then spun back the other way. It was as perfect a move as when Stephen Malkmus would wiggle his butt in early Pavement gigs.
The songs are well-crafted and have a certain uniqueness about them. Sure, you can tell there’s a bit of C-86 influence as well a some folk music too (and let’s not forget the band proudly calls bands like Pavement, Hefner and Gorkys Zygotic Mynci among their faves), but the never go for the easy hook as the songs have fun starts/stops and choppy bits all over the place. Plus Hankin’s vocals sound wise and mature beyond her years (though they all appeared very shy on stage).
I’m really glad I left the house on this Monday evening. If they ever make it back here I’ll be front and center again and if they don’t, well, I can say that I was there in 2018.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band tore through an almost two and a half hour two set opener in the first night of two at the Capitol Theater. Opening the show with “Do I look Worried”, from the album made up my mind. The band went through a nineteen song set list. A highlight from the first set was a great cover from Neil Young’s “Alabama”. Susan’s voice was as always nothing short of amazing. Another highlight was the song “Until You Remember”. The sound in the Capitol Theater was amazing. Derek’s guitar work echoed the walls of the Capitol without taking away from the rest of the band. An incredible work of musicianship the dual drummers and the smooth base blended so nicely with the horns and backing vocals. After a short break TTB opened the second set with a scorching version of “Statesboro Blues”. The crowd was more than ready for the second set, and the band did not disappoint. Playing a few cover songs the one that stood out the most was “You Don’t Know How it Feels”, by Tom Petty. Being such a fresh blow to music fans, the song took on a new meaning to me that night, RIP Tom Petty. The show was great and the fans made me think the “Wheels of Soul” will be spinning for a long time to come.
Live at the Alex Theatre in Los Angeles (technically: Glendale) on February 17, it was a Springfield early spring festival. And yes, before you ask, notable in their absence were Stills and Young.
A benefit for the nonprofit Autism Think Tank (autismthinktanknj.com) which “brings together a team of top autism specialists, via an internet medical conference, to tackle the painful medical/psychological issues faced by kids like Wild Honey’s co-founder Paul Rock’s thirteen-year-old son, Jake, a non-verbal autistic boy with extreme digestive distress and self-injury issues.” To date The Wild Honey Foundation (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit) has raised over $100,000 for the Autism Think Tank. Among the performers: Furay (of course), Micky Dolenz, Susan Cowsill, Terry Reid, Martha Davis, Elliot Easton, Claudia Lennear, Dream Syndicate, Rob Laufer, Brent Rademaker, Three O’Clock, Gary Myrick, Stephen McCarthy, Greg Sowders, Carla Olson, Darian Sahanaja, Ciny Lee Berryhill, Iain Matthews, Don Randi, Luther Russell, Syd Straw, Joss Cope, Chris Price, Bebopalula, Steve Stanley, Nick Guzman, Corinna & Isabelle Scott, All Day Sucker.
I’ve been a fan of Canadian Whitney Rose since her sophomore release, 2015’s Heartbreaker of the Year, but I’d missed the last time she played in Denver. This time I was determined not to miss it. Plus it gave me a chance to check out the Goosetown Tavern, which is right across the street from the venerable Bluebird Theatre. The Goosetown used to be called the Across the Street Café, a venue that I saw Richard Buckner in on my first trip to Denver in ’97, but I digress.
Another early show and as we walked in about 8:30 PM she was a few songs in (per the doorman) and the venue, though small, was pretty packed for the charismatic Canadian. She had a full band including two guitarists, a rhythm section and of course Rose who only sang on most songs, but did bust out an acoustic guitar for a few numbers. Also, she’s a talker, loves talking to the crowd and told some funny stories.
Her latest record, Rule 62, came out last year via Six Shooter Records/Thirty Tigers and it’s got 11 slices of some real nice countrypolitan with terrific songwriting (also, it was co-produced by Raul Malo and Niko Bolas, two guys who know what they’re doing). It’s a bit glossy but not the typical county Nashville gunk
Off said new record we heard classic cuts like “I Don’t Want Half (I just want out),” “Arizona,” “Wyoming” and the single, “Can’t Stop Shakin’” (which Rose talked about it inspired at least in part, by her bouts of anxiety).She tossed in a few covers as well including a Tom T. Hall (“Harper Valley P.T.A.”) and from the Heartbreaker.. We heard “The Devil Borrowed My Boots” and “There’s a Tear in My Beer.”
Just before 10 PM she called it a night, no encores but the crowd seemed satisfied. Her merch table has everything from cds and vinyl to t-shirts to a rack of assorted clothing that she got a local thrift stores. A veritable pop-up store! Not much else to say, really, Rose has a great voice, terrific songs and an uber-talented band. They’re definitely worth leaving the house for.
The scene of the crime was the Hard Rock Café, and on a rainy night, following an opening set from hometown act God Hates Unicorns, the instrumental headliners slayed.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIFFINI TAYLOR
Hard Rock Café Pittsburgh welcomed John5 and the Creatures on a rainy February night. Anyone that enjoys great guitar playing would have completely enjoyed this show. John5 is a guitar virtuoso for the ages. He can switch from an electric guitar to an electric mandolin to a banjo and keep rocking. This is a tour not to be missed.
Since I was young, I can remember listening to the sounds of guitars. To me they were magnificent. (I can play some, but not superb, far from it.) I enjoy guitar solos, the longer the better. When I first heard John5 play, I was awestruck. This is what I wanted to listen to. This is someone who I enjoyed watching play. He and genuinely enjoys playing, one can see it in his emotions and face. It is a wonderful sight.
Rain was coming down as I arrived at Hard Rock Café in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Once inside, I knew that it would be a good show. The opening band, God Hates Unicorns, took to the stage. An interesting name for a band, the name reminded me of Deadpool for some reason. Anyway, God Hates Unicorns hail from Pittsburgh. They were playing to hometown crowd, that is always nice for a band. The audience kept growing and growing. This was a sold-out show. A very fun opening band. Now for the main event.
John5 took to the stage from the Hard Rock Café kitchen. That is correct, John5 came running up the ramp to the stage from the kitchen. This is very cool. The band itself, known as the Creatures, is Rodger Carter on drums and Ian Ross on bass. John5 joins the band already on stage who are surrounded by blow up creatures. There is Frankenstein and a couple of Grim Reaper style blowups. A simple stage, that is all. This is nice to see because the music is why I came—an all instrumental show was performed, and performed well.
Some may not be into instrumental shows, but this is the type that would change their minds quickly. The uniqueness of this band along with adding country to rock to metal to pop to blues to bluegrass is incredible to see. The guitars themselves can be very entertaining; an illuminated Fender at the end of the show is beautiful and sounds fantastic. Then there is the electric mandolin—a surprise, and one which John5 plays fantastically. And also a banjo— who plays banjo in a metal band?!?
Seriously, the guitars, mandolin and banjo brought out the diverse talents John5 really has. To bring in the banjo was unexpected by most in attendance but it was well received by the crowd. The mandolin is not often thought of as an instrument in metal but he uses it incredibly. All the instruments were played well by talented musicians, showing what hard work and dedication and a little love can achieve. Music can be a beautiful thing.
It was nice that the crowd sang along too. Yes, this is instrumental but a couple of songs that were played were covers and it was fantastic. I will never forget this line and I quote John5: “Guitars, tits, and monsters” (the title of a song on the recently released Live album). “Beat It” was played and the medley is something that one does not want to leave early and miss. The show was extremely entertaining, from the light on the guitars to the quick change to masks, as well as the glow mouth that John5 does so well. Altogether, a beautiful and well thought out show. You’ll be thrilled you saw it.
Blurt Audio Exclusive: Thin White Rope "The Fish Song" (from 2018 remaster of The Ruby Sea