Friday, January 1, 2016

Concert Review: Clutch with Crobot @ The Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA 12/28/15

"Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much; such things are dangerous."

Photo by Fran Chismar

New "big riff" rock, for me, has subdivisions beyond The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. There is stoner rock (see Atomic Bitchwax), serious and sludgy jetsam territory (remember Killdozer?), and more of an athletic territory—the latter being the equivalent to Manny Pacquiao, and the former being more like Butterbean. While the bands I'm about to mention most probably have respect for stoner rock, the end result is agile. They are light on their feet and as a result have a hell of a dynamic wallop and moves like Jagger.
CROBOT! It was a sold-out homecoming for these guys. They hail from Pottsville, PA, and have been on a rampage touring with Clutch. They did their fans right on this night, I'll tell you that!!!

Photo by Fran Chismar

I hadn't heard of them before this evening and, much like my experience with The Struts a couple of weeks back, I chose not to check them out beforehand. I will do my best to describe the band's sound without trying to sound like a Joy of Cooking recipe.

Bishop is a monster of a guitar player, laying down huge bouncy, punchy riffs. He has a great, defined guitar tone that allows for a Tom Morello punch instead of a fecund swamp of hazy fuzz. The Figueroa brothers are THE rhythm section machine that give the Crobot engine wheels.

Photo by Fran Chismar

When Jake's bass doubles Bishop's with riffs, you get a juggernaut of a riff! When the two separate, Jake has the chops to enable Bishop to glide and float on top and deliver some actual dynamics. When they reconnect, the impact is amazing. Goddamn, these guys are tight. Like I said—athletic.

Photos by Fran Chismar

Brandon Yeagley! (Yup, that's a sentence.) Now this a frontman. His range is in Miles Kennedy's (of Alter Bridge) territory but there are NO similarities. His high register has density and never thins out or loses power. Then there's the dance moves—I haven't seen a singer get down like this since Cedric Bixler-Zavala of the Mars Volta.

Photo by Fran Chismar

This band has no weak link, no throw away tunes, and never let up the gas once they hit the stage. Balls to the wall from the time "Legend of the Spaceborne Killer" started to the finish of "Fly on a Wall." A relentless rock and roll animal, these guys could have just as easily headlined this show. Stay hungry my young friends!

Now on to CLUTCH. I have seen Clutch three times. Since the second show, I hadn't  listened to them again. It's been at least four to six years. Why? It was the extended jams of their songs, a long intermission after which Neil Fallon's eyes were as red as the Devil's dick, and way too many stoner jams. Gimme a GODDAMN BREAK! Rock guys usually don't have the chops or wit to make jams interesting. Not only that, but being up on the stage is your job. If you're too fucking lit to keep your music right then don't expect me to give a shit about you going forward. They sucked! I said it—deal with it. That being said, I had my doubts.

So what did they deliver on this fateful night? Clutch kicked out DOMINATION!!! FUCK!!!

Photo by Fran Chismar

This is what I always imagined from these guys. Unrelenting, humorous, and invigorating. They had trimmed the fat since last I saw them. Big Jean-Paul Gaster brought the heat and kept the engine stoked. "Crucial Velocity"... DAMN STRAIGHT BABY!!!!

Photo by Fran Chismar

No low points here. Neil delivered the goods on stage like I knew he could. Just like in the studio.  There are not too many frontmen who can touch this dude. I'm happy to say I'm back with these guys.

Photo by Fran Chismar

The set was comprised mostly of Psychic Warfare and Earth Rocker, with a little Blast Tyrant and Robot Hive. Clutch are veterans and play like a well-oiled machine. Neil stormed across the stage high and mighty, punctuating the rhythm with pointed finger or fist as the band fired on all fours as the crowd went WILD WILD WILD.

Photo by Fran Chismar

It's worth mentioning that Dan Maines rocked a Rickenbacker bass and, together with Gaster, donned a Motorhead shirt in honor of Lemmy's death. Also worth mentioning: Clutch and Crobot managed to sound phenomenal in spite of the Electric Factory's terrible, cavernous sound system.

Photo by Fran Chismar

I have to say this show made my top six of all the shows I've ever seen (which, incidentally, would be a five-way tie of Bad Brains—minus HR—on the Rise tour at City Gardens in Trenton, NJ, Soundgarden at the Fastlane, Firehose and the Blake Babies at the T-bird Cafe, the original line-up of the Rollins Band at the Fastlane, and the Mighty Lemmon Drops and Social Distortion at City Gardens.)

Photo by Fran Chismar

I suppose Clutch may need the benefit of the doubt regarding the past shows. Maybe they had an off night. Maybe they were too potted-up. The day after this show I hooked up Earth Rock and Psychic Warfare. I could be wrong, but for me it's the sound of re-ignition. Sonically, the jam of fat contentment is shed. Fire is still alive in the belly of Cassius.

Godspeed people! Check out Crobot—and keep the windows down and eyes on the horizon.


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  1. Tom, what a great review!I really enjoy reading your work.
    Doug W.


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