November 10, 2016 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Trucks Into Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 10-29-16 w/ Deap Vally & Death From Above 1979
Originally named The Elements when forming back in 1998, the San Francisco, California area band quickly became known as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (BRMC) to the Rock-n-Roll world. Taking their name from Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1951 film The Wild One, BRMC broken down the walls into the international world with the 2001 debut album, B.R.M.C. A promising start, they followed up with three more successful albums between 2003’s Take Them On, On Your Own, 2005’s Howl, and 2007’s Baby 81.
Although, as with many bands, they have had their share of ups and downs. Surviving lineup changes, including the exit of Drummer Nick Jago, the 2010 passing of Vocalist/Bassist Robert Been’s father Michael; who their sound engineer, roadie, and family support, BRMC has shown resilience through it all. Currently led by founders Vocalist/Guitarist Peter Hayes, the aforementioned Robert Been, and Danish Drummer Leah Shapiro (former touring member of The Raveonettes), they are back on the road in the fall of 2016 with support from Deap Vally and Death From Above 1979. A run of shows that finds them visiting venues coast to coast across the USA, on the eve of Saturday, October 29th, they made their way to Tempe, Arizona to visit the Marquee Theatre.
Walking into what felt like a deep, dark cavern, the crowd at the Marquee Theatre was relatively light on the body count of fans. From the onset, the evening felt like it was going to be an intimate affair with some killer Rock music, as the dedicated concert goers made their way in for the opening set of Deap Vally. A crowd that certainly grew in size as the show moved along, for many, it was certainly more appealing to attend a show which brought the performers closer to them, in a deeper, more personal fashion.
Cued up and ready to bring it, Deap Vally Drummer/Vocalist Julie Edwards came out on stage and settled relatively quickly into her position as she lifted her sticks and, with full confidence, began her first strike. It was at that precise moment Guitarist/Vocalist Lindsey Troy came on stage with all badass glory like Chrissie Hynde, but with the Rock power of a guitarist that stands tight with Jack White. That said, this duo from Southern California are the epitome of classic femme fatale Rock-n-Roll. At first, the resemblance to the blonde hair of Edwards and the dark hair of Troy, it felt like a flashback to the days of the band Heart. Thing is, once this duo starts playing, everyone realize very quickly that these two are their own brand of art, attitude, as well as sound as they played songs such as “Little Baby Queen,” bringing a Pop culture, artsy, media-driven statement. A song with a strong social commentary, it is a yarn-spinning tale.
With the 2016 release of their latest album, Femejism, their set concentrated mostly on the new material. Sprinkling in songs that included “Smile More,” the rock seduction continued to entice the masses as they brought the deep-kneading thump, grind, and rhythm with others such as “Royal Jelly.” This is pure unadulterated butter that melts the yearnings of a guitar mating with a drum. Then Edwards clicked her magic sticks and the drum beats ensued as Troy added her vocals to a Prog Rock aggressive on a piece called “Julian.” Holding the stage for approximately 40 minutes, their music told stories and, lyrically, it matches their sound of somewhat psychedelic passages. Together, Edwards and Troy bring back what has been missing, the nastiness of Root Rock.
Sandwiched neatly in between this evening’s three bill lineup came a band out of Toronto, Canada, named Death From Above 1979. This duo, with a blast and sprinkle of Rock mixed with psychedelic electrodes, is comprised of two guys with one cup – Jesse Keeler (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Sebastien Grainger (vocals, drums, percussion). The large caricature drawings of the two band mates adorned with elephant noses were the backdrop to a relatively different set, once again basically performed with little lighting. Having formed sometime in early 2000 after some breaks, Death From Above 1979 reunited in 2011, and in February 2014, produced and released their studio album, The Physical World. A thrilling Hard Rock album which carries enough complexity to keep it unpredictable from beginning to end, the band continue to tour in its support.
Touring with the likes of Deftones in 2015, their run with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has been an exciting one and the stop at Marquee Theatre brought the signature skull-rattling bass the crowd wanted. Although the only visual appearance during their set was the large cardboard elephant nosed caricatures behind them, the audience seemed to bob their head along as the duo blasted through “Right On, Frankenstein,” “You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine,” and “Black History Month.” Through each song chosen to play from 2004’s You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine and The Physical World, they rounded out their set with “Government Trash” and “The Physical World” to applauds as the band promptly exited the stage. Overall a fun performance, Death From Above 1979 are a must see live.
After about a 30 minute break for stage set up and adjustments, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club began within a cloak of darkness and nothing but the glow of a lit cigarette illuminating the room as a silhouette shape of Hayes appeared as they opened up with “Beat The Devil’s Tattoo.” One of the most known BRMC songs, it carried a hard edge of southern Blues Rock. The Rock twang and harmonic hums continued as they stayed concealed in the shadows, playing songs such as Ain’t No Easy Way Out” and “Hate the Taste.”
Keeping the music coming, loud and at times very bold, they went into one of their hardest rocking songs, “High/Low.” While the rattle and hum coming from the band was tight, many stood watching expressionless, but clearly enthralled in the music. Who knows if it was just where the moon was in its cycle or what, but much of the audience seemed off in a distant land, but this could also be a part of the mood instilled by the band’s dark, broody form of Rock. The energy felt in the songs themselves was appreciated nonetheless as the band played “Red Eyes and Tears” and “Spread Your Love” before closing out with the Punk-vibed “Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
Overall, the band delivered a very strong set and, at times, the sound was extremely loud, but isn’t that what Rock is all about? Be sure to catch this excellent triple billing of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death From Above 1979, and Deap Vally as they continue to tour through November 12th stateside.