May 22, 2015 Rival Sons & Black Stone Cherry put NYC in a groove 5-15-15 w/ Robert Jon and the Wreck
Historically, the number one motivation for a musician to follow his or her dream, is based off of their influences and role models. Blues is the essential element to Hard Rock, Blues Rock and Heavy Metal. A Blues legend once said, “I don’t think anybody steals anything; all of us borrow.” This Blues Rock Guitarist and genius, who has released over fifty albums throughout his career, went by the name of B.B King, who passed away on May 14, 2015. This tragedy spread across the music scene, where his idols lost a part of their soul as well, that day. Ironically, the following day, on May 15, 2015 at Irving Plaza in New York City, was a night to honor the genre that would not have been the same without B.B. King. Blues Rock N’ Roll was celebrated. It has been slightly over seven months since the Californian rockers Rival Sons, conquered this venue last October, and this night, New Yorkers were ready for more. This time around they brought with them the up and coming Southern Californian Blues Rockers, Robert Jon and the Wreck, and as direct support the bluesey-Metallica-esque heavy mashup from Edmonton, Kentucky, Black Stone Cherry.
Kicking off the weekend, with an already packed house, marking their first time walking on to a New York City Stage was Robert Jon and the Wreck. This band lives life by their code of passion and simplicity consisting of “music, miles, and whiskey.” Within six months of their formation in 2013, they released their debut EP, Rhythm of the Road and embarked on their first nationwide tour. Their journey has been non-stop since, touring alongside acts such as Billy Sheehan and Rodney Atkins. Recently, they released their unsigned debut album, Glory Bound in February, 2015. Then they hit the road again, sharing their music at notorious festivals such as SXSW, Vans Warped Tour and River Roots Live. Consisting of Robert Jon Burrison (vocals/guitar), Andrew Espantman (drums), Steve Maggiora (keys/vocals), Kristopher Butcher (lead guitar/vocals), and David Pelusi (bass), the band came out ready to show the East Coast what they are made of.
As they wrecked the stage with bluesy joyance, the crowd became hooked from the get-go with “The Devil Is Your Only Friend.” Slowing the tempo down with the groovy “Blame It On The Whiskey,” they brought in the immaculate guitar solo from Butcher which echoed through the room. Finishing their thirty minute set with tracks such as the heartfelt and heavy “When I Die,” and the jazzy-esque guitar shredding artistry of “Glory Bound,” Robert Jon and the Wreck astonished the audience, leaving them thirsty for more. New Yorkers now expect that Robert Jon & The Wreck will come back again and possibly take on the role of headliner soon enough. Look out for them at nearby festivals such as Rocklahoma on May 24th and Rock The Gap in Washington on May 30th.
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Fans had enough time to quickly grab a brew, check the merchandise table, and inch their way as far as they could to the front of the stage to see the Heavy Blues Rockers, Black Stone Cherry. Formed in 2001, and having played alongside acts such as Seether, Motörhead and Theory of a Deadman. Consisting of Chris Robertson (vocals/guitar), Ben Wells (guitar/vocals), Jon Lawhon (bass/vocals) and John Fred Young (drums), this is a band of brothers who believe in the power of song above anything else. Staying true to who they are and conjuring up soulful Rock-n-Roll, they continue to support of their fourth studio album, Magic Mountain, released in May, 2014, via Roadrunner Records. A headliner in their own right, when asked to join up with Rival Sons on this tour the band said a unified “heck yea!,” thus exciting audiences to see the two paired together in one tour.
Coming out inspired, Black Stone Cherry knew how to stimulate crowd as they began “Rain Wizard,” with their rushing energy, Wells enthused every person packed onto the floor of Irving Plaza while lifting up his axe into the air and wailing away. Consistently pumping the room with adrenaline and a fiery spirit, the compacted crowd managed to raise their hands up in the air, as they continued to perform with the Southern-Bluesy rock track of “Me & Mary Jane.” Robertson was very honored that the crowd of New Yorkers knew their earlier works, when he went into “In My Blood” off of their third studio album released in 2011 entitled Between the Devil & The Deep Blue Sea. Carrying on with his soulful energy, Robertson interacted with the people during “Maybe Someday,” having everyone shout out “hey, hey, yeah!” Possessing a fervent energy, Black Stone Cherry paid a tribute to the flair of 80’s Metal, while holding onto their own modern Southern style. Enjoying their time to rock, the band continued to pump out adrenaline packed music and remained entertaining, especially when Lawhon playfully grabbed Wells guitar. The stunts did not stop there as Lawhon and Wells continued to run across the stage while Young gave it his all, slamming away at the drums.
Grooving along with the next track, written about their hometown, “Hollywood in Kentucky,” was fun and catchy, even for the headbangers in the audience. Jumping into “White Trash Millionaire” followed by, “Blame it On The Boom Boom,” left all with Wells and Robertson having it out on a guitar-solo duel meanwhile, Lawhorn took his own spotlight on the bass. Ending their ambiguous jamming glory with the older track of “Lonely Train,” from their 2006 debut self-titled album, they had everyone cheering for more. Black Stone Cherry’s dedication to traditional Hard Rock music is pure and real. The band now heads over to Ireland and Scotland in June for some special shows that are not to be missed.
At this point, Irving Plaza was swelling with passionate fans, eager for Rival Sons to take the stage. Building a large fan base each year since their formation in 2009, Rival Sons is made up of Jay Buchanan on vocals, Scott Holiday on guitar, Michael Miley on drums, and the newest member Dave Beste on bass, who replaced Robin Everhart after his departure from the group in 2013. Hailing from Southern California, these rockers continue to support their highly praised fourth studio album, Great Western Valkyrie via Earache records released in June of last year. Finding a home in The City That Never Sleeps, Rival Sons impressively continue to fill venues to capacity when visiting, and their return to Irving Plaza was no different.
Walking into the spotlight to the theme song to 1967 film The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, there were thunderous screams and cheers that echoed throughout the room, as everyone welcomed Rival Sons return. Spiriting up the mood with their latest tracks “Electric Man,” the thunderous “Good Luck,” and the Southern Hard Rock sensation of “Secret,” had the entire crowd swaying and singing along with great pleasure. Holiday, looking slick as ever with his notorious sunglasses, and continued with his famous guitar hooks that flowed effortlessly. Meanwhile Buchanan’s soulful vocals were magnifying and it was clear he had the audience in the palm of his hand as they carried on with their older works such as “You Want To” and “Pressure and Time.”
Keeping the energy flowing with their ambitious grooves, they closed their first electric set with the entranced masterpiece of “Manifest Destiny, Part 1,” leaving Holiday once again fascinating the crowd with his guitar licks. Rival Sons walked off the stage as the sound that mimicked birds chirping erupted. It was an interesting choice however, that did not last long when they came back on in a an intimate and acoustic setting kicking it off with Holiday on “Nava.” It was at this point where Buchanan expressed to the fans that he was struggling with his voice due to an unfortunate sore throat. Although, regardless of the confession, he was able to belt out each note flawlessly, and it made it hard to believe he was even in pain. Continuing on with “Burn Down Los Angeles,” Buchanan used his chords spectacularly, having everyone cheering and clapping along. Concluding the acoustic set with the notorious, “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and the embellishing “White Noise.” It no longer mattered what Rival Sons played from their catalog, as they had successfully, completely mesmerized each spectator.
After a short break, they warmed up the amps again and continued the groove with “Torture.” Shortly after this track the night shifted into an honorable and heartfelt stance when Buchanan expressed, “What’s really gone, the feeling is gone,” giving the crowd a moment to catch up with the great loss, he continued, “The great Ambassador, he brought Blues in places they would never be, this song is for B.B.” Fittingly covering the classic “The Thrill is Gone” was a remarkable tribute to honor the late B.B King, and Miley even kissed his sticks, raising them toward the heavens to the Blues Rock God. Shifted back to their roots, they played “Tell Me Something” from their debut self titled album, and followed right along with “Rich and the Poor,” which both highlighted more impeccable work from Holiday on the guitar.
Conversing with the room, Buchanan gave a shout out to Robert Jon & The Wreck and stated they are their friends from back home. Continuing to share his wisdom to all, saying, “You live your own life and you are going to make mistakes. You have to accept all of it, it’s part of yourself. If you do not accept yourself you will never find love.” The emotional, “Where I’ve Been” followed, filling the hearts and souls of everyone with inspiration and hope. Picking up the pace once again, “Get What’s Coming” lifted the mood with abundant grooves before Rival Sons walked off of the stage, but at this point the scheduled curfew was irrelevant to them and their followers. Instead of cheering “one more song,” the crowd chanted, ”Rival Sons,” over and over again, enticing the band back out. Shortly after they walked onto the stage and closed out with “Open My Eyes” followed by killer Miley’s drum solo. Buchanan gratefully stated, “We are the Rival Sons, we play Rock N’ Roll music, thank you,” and officially closed the set with “Keep On Swinging.”
Coming out to see this show gave the New York City crowd a chance escape from their own harsh realities and lose themselves in Rock-n-Roll. Rival Sons are out there simply to play great music and accomplish that feat in tremendous fashion. They will be teaming up with Halestorm for some West Coast dates in June before they kick off a few festivals, so get out there and let Rock-n-Roll save your soul!