For anyone in doubt of the status of rock ‘n’ roll, this past Saturday July 7th at the Belly Up Tavern was the place to be. The bill boasted one of my favorite local bands, Dead Feather Moon, headlining with some supreme openers: L.A.’s Revoltaire and another local group, The Paragraphs. If you didn’t leave the show with ringing ears and sore vocal chords, you did it wrong. And if you missed it at all, you double did it wrong. Here’s my rundown of the evening:
The Paragraphs started the night as any opener should: their accessible set was quickly paced and they made the effort to thank the other bands and the venue. Politeness goes a long way I’d say. Their sound was a little more pop than what was to come but they set the tone in ways of passionate performing. Most songs had an upbeat tempo, vaguely doo-wop/surf-ish and the band did a solid job. I’d like to check them out again, maybe on a bill where they had a longer set and fit with the other bands a bit more sonically.
With Revoltaire, I was unsure what to expect. One of those bands I keep hearing “you’re gonna love” about, but somehow failed to give them a listen prior to the show. Singer Ruby Stewart happens to be the child of some famous parentage- musician Rod Stewart and model Kelly Emberg, but is managing to make a name for herself aside from all that. At barely 25 years old, and boasting the angular beauty of her mother, Ruby may look more fashion model than rock star. At first. From the second she hit the stage clad in black from head to toe her vocals and movements commanded the attention of everyone in the room. To say this girl has stage presence is a gross understatement. It was clear that Revoltaire’s old-fashioned rock and roll has already garnered attention from the fervent fans I witnessed. The guy in front of me with hands raised out towards the stage looked like he was attending a tent revival and seeing the second coming. And for as many followers that were in the audience, a lot more were being baptized by Stewart’s sometimes soft, more often gritty vocals. Backed by ominous organs, bass licks that tickled the ear drums, and a host of other layers- the Revoltaire power was undeniable. Give “Pretty Girls Dig Graves” a listen and you can owe me a high-five later.
The culmination of the evening (and seemingly a lot of time and hard work) was the Dead Feather Moon set. For as much fun as these guys had headlining one of their favorite venues, the rest of us had a shit ton of fun watching it come together. The well-thought-out song choices included tried and true fan favorites alongside new songs that presented a pure rock vibe. Chris Bowling and Jesse Kling got to showcase their bass and guitar chops respectively, each with hair-flying accompaniment (seriously, this band has great hair.) Tyler Soule’s precision and power on drums was at its finest. Greg Peters put passion into each instrument he played from keyboard to lap steel and a mess of things in between. And sailing the ship were Justen Berge’s superbly strong lyrics and vocals. The two-song encore summed up the evening perfectly. Starting with “Lionheart (The Brother)” Berge strummed an acoustic guitar alone on stage before being joined by Soule who added a solid drum beat. Then the rest of the guys came out and blended together their individual elements- a stunning metaphor for what this band is at its core. Five guys who have crafted a sound defined by their individual talents coming together in a special harmony; the power of which strikes me as both naturally occurring while still being hard-earned. They ended the set with “Always Around” a newly released track that has impressed me for a long time and is finally available for download. The song is a great foot-stomping jam that contrasted with the tender performance of “Lionheart” and left the room on a high with a solid sign that rock and roll is alive and well…. at least in some bands.
**I want to give an extra special shout out to the kick ass photographer of the photos in this piece. Lisa Guilin takes wicked pictures (as you can see) and was kind enough to lend me her talents. Her pics always make me lose my shit. Check out the rest of her DFM album here and her YouTube videos here**