Clutch has been creating bluesy stoner rock and gathering fans for over two decades. Fans religiously know their lyrics and guitar riffs. There does not seem to be a half-hearted Clutch fan. This is the kind of band that brings old friends together when they roll into town for a show. Everybody at the House of Blues on Wednesday night seemed to have people around them that they knew for quite some time.
Signs were posted instructing patrons to be on their best behavior, "Absolutely No Crowd Surfing. You will be ejected from the venue." It left people wondering how the crowd would respond. Neil Fallon and crew took the stage to Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers song, "We Need Some Money."
As they ripped into their first song, one person attempted to create a pit. For the record, one person moshing does not create a pit; it just makes someone look like a dick. For the first three songs one individual slammed into people, knocking drinks to the floor and generally took away from the performance. This audience was not in the mood to create a swirling pit. House of Blues' Finest escorted the unruly patron away after confrontations with multiple concertgoers. After that people in the same area were simply jamming out, singing to each other and having a grand ol' time.
Now that the rant is over, let's get back to our regularly scheduled program. Fallon was like a Southern Baptist Preacher at a summertime tent revival. His booming voice and facial expressions hooked the audience and kept them in the palm of his hand the entire show. Fallon invoked the spirit of Arsenio Hall as consistently reached towards the sky and pointed to the top row in the balcony to make sure everyone in the venue had a connection with him.
The show slowed down for a short moment when the acoustic guitars were brought out for "Gone Cold." Jean-Paul Gaster arms hovered over the snare drum and moved like he was gracefully stirring a simmering pot of stew.
Things got fired up rather quickly as the guitars were replaced again for "Cypress Grove." Guitarist, Tim Sult attacked the song with a vengeance as he hardly moved his feet, simply staring at his fingers while he precisely picked through the riffs of the rowdy song.
Clutch pays obvious respect to the roots of rock music in the lyrics of "Crucial Velocity" with including "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Gaster, with his pants tucked into his red socks, then performed an incredible drum solo that was simply awesome. The spotlight took over his kit as the rest of the band retreated to the side of the stage for several minutes as Gaster mesmerized the crowd until it was interrupted by guitar feedback. It was amazing to see someone perform so extremely heavy when moments earlier was so nimble.
So how were the openers?
Torche is a heavy grinding band from Miami, a city that is better known for it's Latin flair than an incredible stoner metal group, but these guys represented the genre well. Surprisingly they are celebrating their 10-year anniversary together and their cohesion showed on stage.
Jonathan Nuñez was front and center with hammering his bass and absolutely crushing through the set. His bandmates sludged along wonderfully using their instruments and speakers to create reverb and feedback to perfection. "Minions," was seemingly a crowd favorite, a super heavy song from their new album Restarter that is scheduled for release next month on Relapse Records. Make sure to catch them the next time they stroll into Houston.
Personal Bias: Without a doubt, this was the best show I've seen all year...and it may stay that way.
Crowd: Well-versed with Clutch's catalog expanding over ten albums deep. Also, they were not not stoned - quite ironic for a stoner rock show.
Overheard in the crowd: Fallon informed the crowd, "So, we will be recording our new album in Amarillo. Amarillo...because that's where the action is." One burly fellow yelled out, "72 ounces!!!!!!" This was an obvious reference to the Big Texan 72 oz. Steak Challenge.
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