Here is a good rule of thumb for a journalist when covering a show and especially when covering three juggernaut bands like these. Arrive at least two hours early, avoid the hippies playing guitar asking for spare change, and catch the sound check. Trust me this rule will never let you down, but like any other rule, there are exceptions and that would be if the bands suck, but not this show, oh no! Not in this case, the Riot Room had talent, madness, and style waiting for me and it would prove to be one of the best musical experiences I have ever had.
When I arrived at the Riot Room, I could see the Band of Skulls sound check through an open door but unfortunately there was no time to watch. I had to sort out my press pass situation which turned out to be complete chaos but I am a firm believer that great things can be born out of chaos or at least after this evening I am. After some strange words with the manger of the bar, I came outside to find the gorgeous Emma Richardson (bassist/vocalist of Band of Skulls) texting. I felt panic! I thought “control yourself, you’re a professional what would the good doctor think if you blew a chance to talk to her? You have a story to get.
” She was very kind (London accents are amazing by the way) and was excited about having an hour to play for the night, it was the fourth time Band of Skulls have been to the states, she told me. We chatted a bit more then I shook her hand, made a mental note to always have an audio recorder, and moved on.
The doors opened at nine, I sat at the bar searched my pocket nervously for cash but then a local Kansas City band called The Tambourine Club came on stage. The crowd did not seem to respond to them, they were way too busy buying drinks. The Tambourine Club had an answer for this neglect, after one song the band’s drummer called out all the boozers saying “get on the floor” and hell it worked. I myself ran for the floor, they had earned my respect, I thought, “that’s right, get me and these swine to move.” Now I knew from talking to the band earlier that they had only been together for “three weeks” so that does earn them leniency (even though half-way through the set the bass player seemed about to mutter something about eight months but was quickly cut off by the drummer correcting him with three weeks). I enjoyed The Tambourine Club, they were a nice ice breaker for the night to come and given time they might not turn out to be half bad, but for now I can only give them an incomplete grade.
To sum up the 22-20s, who were on next, they are the definition of cool, the definition of rock star, the reason why rebellious teenagers pick up a guitar and with Barley making an effort they rocked the hell out of the Riot Room. First they reminded me of The Doors and the bassist even looked and moved like Jim Morrison, at one point I thought maybe he really is Jim Morrison this might explain why the rest of the band gave him so much room on stage. He might be a bottle of crazy waiting to explode (most likely hopeful thinking). Then I quickly realized it was foolish to compare the 22 20’s to The Doors, the 22-20s had their own sound. The lead singer would scream lyrics like, “Well I can’t get the Devil outside of me” with that the crowd would scream for more. The only problem was they didn’t play long enough, I along with the crowd wanted more. On the last song the lead singer just threw his guitar to the floor and walked off stage without a word. 22-20s get 5 real rocknrollas out of 5.
The Whigs came on the stage to prep their instruments, check vocal levels etc., while ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones blaredout of the speakers. This should have been a clue to what was about to happen. Before the mayhem could even start a fan from the crowd passed out shots of some kind of liquor to the band, without a second thought, they put their glasses in the air in a moment of cheers, tilted their heads back and swallowed. I then knew I was about to witness real madness and I was going to love every second of it. The music was amazing, they packed a full arsenal and I especially enjoyed songs like ‘Naked’. During one song the lead singer jumped on the keyboard and the bassist took over guitar showing the band’s variety of talent. With energy fed by liquor the lead singer Parker Gispert, would kick at the air, shake sweat on the crowed and climb on top of the amps that were about eight feet high, look at the drummer and say “I think I’m gonna do it, I think I’m gonna do it” and yes he did do it he jumped off the amps twice, as a matter of fact. I don’t know if a journalist burned the band in the past but Gispert seemed to show me particular attention by getting so close to me (I was right in front of the stage) that with the swing of his guitar he could have hit me in the face. At one point, a fan next to me started screaming “hit me in the face.” Surely if fists to the face were a part of the show, I knew I would be the one to receive the hit. To shiver in fear and move to the back of the crowd would be wrong, embrace the weird moment and match his madness by screaming in his face, fling sweat back at him, whatever you have to do. Right? The Whigs get 4 shots of madness out of 5.
The final act of the night was a band called Band of Skulls, some would say it’s impossible to put on an absolutely perfect show, well if this is true then the Band of Skulls have done the impossible “giving you more when you only want one” as the lyrics in one song say. However you want to rate it sound, stage presence, or whatever, it’s all there. The energy the band put off can only be described as mind blowing and nothing less. There was not one song they played that was in the least bit boring. I have not felt so pumped from a performance since I saw Trent Reznor durring the Lights in the Sky Tour.
Okay, now that we got the technical stuff out of the way let’s get rash. Band of Skulls are better than The White Stripes (a band their often compared to) and history will remember the Band of Skulls as one of the greatest bands of all time. I now understand why some fans drove hundreds of miles to see them play that night. The fans knew what they were going to get that night, perfection. It made me think, bands that can pull off having two lead singers and avoid ego battles that no matter what lead to break ups (like System of a Down) will always be better bands. It provides constant switch ups almost like two bands in one; this avoids repetitive patterns in the music. There seems to be nothing sexier than seeing a girl like Emma Richardson playing bass and singing her heart out (like the song Blood) but I did not let this razzle dazzle my judgment, or at least I tried. Moving to the opposite side of the spectrum and the stage, Russell Marsden has one hell of a voice as well with the amount of range he has. Band of skulls gets 5 wankers out of 5.
While watching the band perform ‘Patterns’ and amazed that the crowd was not pushing, my mind could not help but to drift and think about a scene from the movie, High Fidelity and then I came to some startling realizations. 1. I was into my puppy dog love phase with music, meaning after tonight music means so much more to me , it was not just a source of fuel or a band-aid for a broken heart. No, it had become so much more. 2. Bands from London are way better than the one’s from the USA, so I suggest that we buy a one way plane ticket, drink absinthe, and talk like were from London. Cheers.
by Josh Davis