Band of Skulls at Warehouse Live, 5/13/2014
Photos by Nicholas Zalud
Band of Skulls Warehouse Live May 13, 2013
I'm not sure what it is, whether it be the accent or the rich history of rock and roll, but for some reason you're just cooler if you're British and in a band. Think in your head what your definition of "rock star" is, and I assure you that they'll speak with an English diction.
Jagger, Clapton, Yorke, McCartney, Bowie, Plant or Page: all are infinitely cooler than anything that's come out of the U.S. (save for Hendrix). So whenever a band hails from the UK, it's much easier to fall in love with them for some odd reason.
Band of Skulls come from England. That might be why they were so damn good. Or for the many other reasons; specifically, the amount of noise that emanated from the three instruments onstage. For an hour and a half, the three Skulls rattled our ears with loud psychedelic blues-rock a la The Black Keys or The Black Angels (or any other band with 'black' in its title, I guess) that had no problem roughing up the crowd at Warehouse Live.
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For a threesome to make that much noise out of your standard bass/drums/guitar combo was a show in itself. They made their instruments sing but at the same time they made my and everyone else in the room without proper protection's ears ring. But that was the point.
And just like Wolfmother the night before, Skulls had a certain looseness onstage -- something that can only come with time on the road. It's tough catching a band in the first days of tour, because there are always kinks to be ironed out. Once they have some time to warm up to the road, though, they always seem to play better, faster and looser.
That seemed to be the case for the Skulls, who are currently in the middle of what seems like an endless stretch of dates across America before heading back home to the UK for even more shows in the late summer and early fall. But that's the key to becoming successful and putting your name out there. You have to play for your fans or they'll get bored with you and move on.
Especially during the current iPod era of music. If you aren't consistently working and releasing music, people are going to try and find the next best thing. Our society is riddled with pop-culture ADD, as we constantly try to find something better and have no problem throwing away and moving on from something that was perfectly fine in the first place.
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But Band of Skulls aren't going anywhere but up. And while this Tuesday-night performance wouldn't probably tell you that with the only half-full Ballroom at WHL, they certainly have been popping up more and more on my radar as of late.
For good reason, too. They really are a kick-ass band, even once you get past their British charm. Not that there was much charm to work with as they didn't add much banter between songs, making it pretty easy to focus on the music. One psychedelic blues track after the other came fierce and had the crowd pounding their fists and shaking their asses. They were polished and practiced, but with a certain edge that only comes with the live show. Loose, yet controlled -- the best way to rock.
And while I think they could definitely fall down the same indie hole that many other bands have (what happened to Peter, Bjorn and John?), they have the songs that will take them the distance. And the diehard fan base too -- I haven't seen that many kids screaming out the lyrics to songs in a very long time. Too long to even remember.
Which says a lot about their staying power and their foothold in popular music already. It must feel pretty damn good to look out to a sea of faces all singing the songs you wrote. I know that would make me a pretty happy guy. Guess I need to start a band.
Personal Bias: Not much of one, actually. I hadn't really listened to them much before last night, but decided to cover the show mainly based on friend recommendations. Thankfully my friends like good music!
The Crowd: Fourth-generation Zep fans.
Overheard In the Crowd: Guy to the bathroom attendant: "Do you have a cologne that smells how I'm looking right now?" Idiot.
Random Notebook Dump: Dear Warehouse Live, could you possibly move or get rid of those annoyingly bright red 'exit' signs on either sides of the stage? I know they're there for safety reasons, but they sure are annoying for photography. For years now they've been ruining my shots and I just don't feel like Photoshopping them out every damn time. Please and thank you!
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