Monday, February 22, 2016

Concert Review: Highly Suspect @ Rock Bottom American Pub - Montgomery, AL 02/20/16

It isn't often that you get to see a band perform right on the cusp of breaking big.  In my case, this was the first time I've witnessed this phenomenon.  I not only got to see this wonderful spectacle of burgeoning fame as a member of the press but as a new fan.  Full disclosure, my objectivity may be a bit clouded but what a night in Montgomery, Alabama it was.

I was ecstatic when Fran told me I was granted a press and photo pass to review Highly Suspect's performance at Rock Bottom American Pub in Montgomery, Alabama.  I had never been to this venue before Saturday night.  Rock Bottom is much smaller than Iron City Birmingham, the venue where I normally review concerts.  However, what Rock Bottom lacked in size, they more than made up for with the graciousness and attentiveness of the staff, from the door people, to the security (who absolutely rocked), to Blake the bartender who took care of us all night and is now my favorite bartender of all time.  I look forward to going back.

I arrived with my small entourage consisting of my good friend Lee Ann and my husband, who most everyone calls "E".  Rock Bottom staff were awesome and on their game getting me checked in as press.  Steve Hall of Steve Hall Productions was quick to greet us and give us the lowdown on what was allowed with photos, etc.  I have followed Steve on Facebook for a while and it was awesome to finally meet the man who has brought so many great productions to the area.

The crowd assembling very rapidly seemed to be mostly younger all the way up to my age, which is around 40 and that's all you need to know.  Stop being so nosy.

I had the privilege of interviewing Rich Meyer, the bassist of Highly Suspect, before the concert.  I was taken to the band's tour bus for the interview.  This was my first interview and also my first tour bus.  I'll tell you all about it in an upcoming post.

When we returned to Rock Bottom after the interview, the place was packed and the excitement had only escalated.  I was approached by several fans, asking what publication I was with.  They were very familiar with the band, almost protective.  When I shared my mutual love of Highly Suspect with them and told them about my album review, they all asked for business cards so they could look it up later.  I hope the guys of Highly Suspect know how much their fans love what they do.

The two opening acts were AudioDamn! and And The Kids.  Both bands absolutely blew the crowd away.

AudioDamn! is an Austrian trio which immediately reminded me of Maroon 5 but with a lot more soul.  I have them on heavy rotation right now on my Spotify account.  The guys were fabulous when E approached them after their set and even let him take a picture of their set list, which included an amazing cover of "Fire" by Jimi Hendrix.  AudioDamn! is on their way to much bigger things and I'd love to see them perform again anytime to give them a proper review.  Check out my two favorite AudioDamn! songs (so far) here and here.

And The Kids are a trio from Massachusetts and, honestly, I can't really pin them down on a sound. They're a dreamy, slowed down, totally high sounding version of Florence And The Machine, at least to me.  That's meant as a compliment.  The ladies from And The Kids were very sweet to E after their set.  The guitarist, Hannah, pressed a small piece of handwritten notebook paper into E's hand when he asked for their set list.  And The Kids were featured on NPR's Tiny Desk concert series.  Check them out for something very different and delightful.

By the time Highly Suspect hit the stage, the place was absolutely packed, fans were packed against the stage as tightly as they could get, and ready to party.  And party they did - the fans and the band. An awesome security dude motioned me up to stage side as I was approved for a press photo pass.  I probably wasn't as professional as I should have been, snapping pictures and screaming along to the lyrics I now know by heart.

The band was incredibly energetic considering the busy week they had just completed.  I imagine being nominated for two Grammy Awards plus performing at the awards can be a serious energy drainer but you couldn't tell if they were exhausted by the way they bombarded the crowd with most of their album "Mister Asylum" and a few extras thrown in for good measure.

As I sang along stage side and snapped pictures, I noticed the trio had wonderful onstage chemistry, especially Johnny (lead singer, guitar) and Rich (bassist), as they moved around each other and played off each other.  My favorite part of the many interactions was when Johnny and Rich exchanged guitars and continued playing seamlessly near the end of the show.  It's clear they genuinely like each other and enjoy performing together.

The crowd was obviously mostly die hard fans, knew every lyric, sang along, and danced with fists in the air.  It was a great show for both existing fans and for any newcomers that happened to be there.  As the show progressed, Johnny poured shots into the styrofoam cups being held up by the front row of fans.  As the show was near completion, a fan (I'm assuming it was a fan because he wore none of the MCID hoodies that the other band hands wore) was allowed to climb on stage to continue the pouring of shots to the fans from what looked to be a huge bottle of 1800 Silver Tequila.  The concert had officially turned into a party.

Speaking of the MCID acronym, it means "My crew is dope", a shout out to all the people closest to the band, who have supported them and been positive forces.  Everyone I saw who worked for the band had on MCID hoodies, including Rich when I interviewed him.  I love that it's a thank you to the people who got them where they are and continue to be there as the journey becomes even vaster.

I judge a band's worth on how good or bad they are live.  Right or wrong, I believe a genuinely talented band will sound as good live as they do on albums.  Sure, there will be the occasional hiccup, some probably not even noticed by the crowd, but as a whole, it should be a solid sounding, complete performance.  Highly Suspect delivered that and a whole lot more.  I would compare their live performance to Chevelle (who they toured with, coincidentally) in the tightness and completeness of the show.  The performance made me love them even more, which is exactly what a live show should do, in my opinion.

Highly Suspect will be on tour in the United States through at least early summer, according to their website.  I strongly urge you to see them if they're in your area, while they can still play smaller venues.

I found no videos from the performance I attended so I'll use a decently filmed video from a different live performance.  "Bloodfeather" has become my favorite Highly Suspect song and this will give you a taste of how they sound live, although it still doesn't come close to what I heard Saturday night.

Thanks again to Highly Suspect and their wonderful support staff who allowed me to review the concert, take pictures, and interview Rich.  Thank you to the staff of Rock Bottom American Pub for amazing service, food and drinks, (get the fried pickles, we re-ordered them, they were that good), and a huge shout out to Steve Hall of Steve Hall Productions for a wonderful night of rock and roll at its best!

Subscribe to our email list by clicking on the "Join Our Email List" tab on the upper right of the page.  You'll be notified as soon as my interview with Rich of Highly Suspect is up.  Click on the dandy little links below to see my recent posts, including my album review of Highly Suspect's "Mister Asylum".

I will be reviewing Bullet For My Valentine after I see them perform at Iron City Birmingham this Sunday on February 28th.  If you're attending, I'll be the chick with bright red hair wearing a tee shirt with the blog logo on the front.  A lovely chick I met on Saturday night told me her boyfriend kept referring to me as "Ariel" throughout the night so look for rocker Ariel but with more curves.  Okay, a lot more curves.  This is a really crappy picture of me without a flash from Saturday night, but holler if you see me.

'Till next time, y'all!



No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts