You say Rock is not dead, but Dorothy screams ROCKISDEAD and they are taking to the streets to proclaim their bluesy, gritty, Hard Rock approach to Soul. One of the scene’s brightest new stars, on Sunday, February 26, 2017, their Doc Martens clambered across the famed Mercury Lounge stage in New York City, working a rowdy crowd into a frenzy all in the name of Rock-n-Roll. A little over a month into their ROCKISDEAD Tour, direct support from the evening was tourmates The Georgia Flood and locals Blak Emoji ready to pump up the adrenaline.
The first testament of the evening would come from Blak Emoji; no strangers to feelings. This Pop, Alt/Electro Rock quartet may have just formed in 2015, but Vocalist Kelsey Warren is no stranger to the Manhattan scene. A dog eat dog town that is continually searching for its Next Big Thing, musicians either love New York City or run screaming back home. Warren, a veteran of this scene, has learned to shape his musical triumphs and tribulations into lyrical inspirations. His previous project Pillow Theory was a dynamic, genre-hopping experiment that found fans in the most unlikely of persons, including Tommy Hilfiger.
Of course, that is another of Warren’s personas, and the here and now is Blak Emoji. A musical virtuoso and multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist who has studied Jazz guitar, classical voice, and music theory, Warren’s Blak Emoji mixes overtly-intelligent, somewhat complex lyrical content with delicious synth-driven sonics. Ultimately, the band – Vocalist Warren, Bass/Synth Player Chris Gaskell, Drummer Max Tholenaar-Maples, and Keyboardist Sylvana Joyce – blend Alt-Rock and Dance beats to create a fiercely addictive musical assault.
On this evening, Blak Emoji took to the small Mercury Lounge stage to promote their debut, self-released EP, Intro. The band took the assembled masses on a journey through their original material, including highlights off their EP. From the seductive, Industrial beats of “Sapiosexual,” funktastic “Velvet Ropes & Dive Bars,” super-sexy “Baby Making Heels,” the bass-heavy beat of “Honey,” and dreamy, The Postal Service-esque “Poison To Medicine,”. their set blended Warren’s sultry, smooth vocals over danceable, infectious Electro-Pop/Rock beats. Their performance was the perfect warm-up to the main event.
Performing as a quartet, The Georgia Flood prepped the crowd for headliners Dorothy with a selection of original material from their EP that included tracks like the infectious “Whistle King” (yes, there is whistling!), soulful “Better Not Together,” and bluesy rocker “Jailhouse.”
Songs like the sweeping “Sleepless Nights” and catchy “Passports” prove that these guys are truly gifted storytellers, while Country/Blues Rocker “Hold On” injected a little sass into their ensemble. Crowd-favorites included Indie Rockers “Tell Me What You Want” and “The Race,” as well as a Blues Rock cover of the classic hymn “Go Tell It On the Mountain;” though the crowd was receptive to everything that these Georgians had to offer.
Their current release, the aforementioned 2016 album ROCKISDEAD, was released via Jay-Z’s own Roc Nation Records. Coming to NYC with Jay-Z in your corner? That does not suck! The band – Martin, DJ Black on guitar, Greg Cash on bass, and Zac Morris on drums (sadly not the Zack Morris who can pause time) – prove that Blues Rock with balls (and ovaries) is definitely not dead.
Danger. Sensuality. Rebellion. Dorothy were poised to take as many prisoner as they could stuff into their picnic baskets as they launched onto the Mercury Lounge stage. Immediately driving into the suggestive “Kiss It,” Martin was a Tasmanian Devil as she strutted and worked the impressive crowd. Her unique blend of Janis Joplin meets Etta James in the body of a rioting 2017 temptress was in full-force as the band moved into the Black Sabbath-esque “Dark Nights” and Country Rocker “Gun In My Hand.” What do all these eclectic sounds have in common? Soul.
Dorothy have soul in spades as they proved on this evening. Fan-favorites “Wicked Ones” and “Woman” took the tempo down a notch, providing a sultry backbeat and some emotional vocals from Martin. In fact, Martin would have several moments of emotional pause throughout the set, ever-impressed by the fans who packed the venue to the gills just for the chance to witness her band’s musical magic. In return for their devotion, Martin was open, friendly, amiable, telling stories, and interacting freely with the crowd throughout the evening.
The band’s eleven-song set list was heavily weighted with tracks from their debut, including melodic “Medicine Man,” dirty ‘ole Rock N’ Roller “After Midnight,” and the onslaught of “Raise Hell.” Martin seduced the crowd as her bandmates provided the magic spell, tight musicianship, impressive soul, and all-out Rock. At this point in the evening, the men took a moment for a jam session that led into a cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic “I Put A Spell On You.” Thereafter, Martin and Black took to the stage for a vocal/guitar duet on their own “Shelter,” where Martin confesses: “I’m a hurricane, I’m a freight train. Ain’t the right way but it’s the only way I know.” As the song came to a close, Martin shed a silent tear.
As their show winded down to a close, the crowd went haywire. Then, two of the band’s heaviest, most raucous tracks brought the evening to an end, starting with “Bang Bang” to raise the energy to a fever pitch, a “Whiskey Fever” pitch, if you will. Martin soared to new levels on the set’s closing number, a progressive assault of heavy Blues Rock with a chaser of top-shelf glory.
In all, it was an amazing night that served to prove quite the opposite of Dorothy’s proclamation: Rock, at least Blues Rock, is hardly dead. This quartet are reinventing the wheel, shaping it to suit their tattooed, rebellious manners, and rocking across America with the proof.
Photos by: Scryer Photography