May 17, 2016 Sick Puppies Make Epic Return To NYC 5-9-16 w/ Red Sun Rising, Stitched Up Heart, & Hudson
Resurfacing once again with the HardDrive Live Tour in 2016, Australian based Rock band Sick Puppies are back to the joy of their excited fanbase. Initially forming in 1997 by Lead Guitarist/Vocalist Shimon Moore and Bassist/Vocalist Emma Anzai, Sick Puppies has traveled a long road. Debuting in 2001 with the album Welcome to the Real World, the band would soon relocate to North America and attain success with 2007’s Dressed Up as Life. Priding themselves on defying naysayers, Sick Puppies beat the odds to rising, bigger Rock fame with 2009’s Tri-Polar as they began drawing more and more fans into venues to see them play. Then, sadly, within a year of their release of their highly charted 2013 Connect album, Moore and the band parted ways, leaving Sick Puppies future uncertain. Staying true to their name, they once again proved critics wrong, rising from the grave in 2015 with a new vocalist, Bryan Scott (formerly of Glass Intrepid and Dev Electric), new outlook, and promises of a new album.
With their new album entitled Fury, due out May 20th, Sick Puppies headline this spring’s HardDrive Live tour while their eager followers welcome them back with open arms. Kicking off their tour in San Antonio, Texas on April 21st, the tour runs through May 18th. Joined by The Things They Carried, Hudson, Stitched Up Heart, and Red Sun Rising, the exciting tour of Rock bands made it to New York City on Monday, May 9th, to cause much excitement within the walls of downtown venue Gramercy Theatre. With a buzz in the air, the room filled up rather quickly as it was appropriately red-tinted and dark, with a smoky atmosphere to set the mood of the show. Interestingly enough, the supporting cast of bands seemed eclectic in the Rock genre, much like the Sick Puppies themselves. Thus, there was plenty of interesting music ahead for those who made the trip out to see the show.
Powerful guitar riffs cut through the air as the dark stage came to life, revealing the first opener, The Things They Carried (sometimes known as acronym 3TC). The band is a New York City local, born in 2009, which prides itself on experimental sound and a very intricate love of music. After many changes, the band has found long lasting members in Rhythm Guitarist and Vocalist Steve Schwartz, Lead Guitarist Ronnie Minuche, Drummer Jesse Burton, and Bassist Eric Fornelius. With a “Good evening,” The Things They Carried jumped right into their first song, welcomed by audience applause. Immediately, the band exposed listeners to raw, guttural instrumentation and screaming vocals. They went ont to say, “Thank you for being here with us, who’s ready for Hudson, Stitched-up Hearts, Red Sun Rising, and Sick Puppies?” which was answered by instantaneous applause and screaming from the approving crowd.
Moving on, The Things They Carried mixed up their set list with songs that venture toward Hardcore Emo and yet can also slide into a Funk sort of sound with smoother vocals on songs like “Something Humans Crave.” Their style employs eerie falsetto notes, gratifyingly melancholic guitar, and emotionally charged vocals with introspective lyrics. With that said, The Things They Carried took the stage in a wild sort of way, constant motion that was mesmerizing. By the time they finish with “364 Day Anniversary,” the crowd had grown more in size, mingling and energized. Concluding their set, they invited the audience to come meet them afterwards and proved they are a band on the rise.
Next, announcing their presence with guitar riffs that split through the dark of Gramercy Theatre, the stage then lit up to reveal Hudson. A fairly new band formed in 2013 by Guitarist Chris Sayre and Bassist Brian Cohen, the two musicians had toured with well known and major label artists before forming Hudson. They brought Dave Hudson aboard after hearing his cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” to be their vocalist, then they recruited college friend Christian Thierbach to be their drummer, and the rest is history as they say.
Excited to be a part of the tour, Hudson geared up the audience with their enthusiastic playing and relaxed vibe. They are nestled somewhere between Country, Thrash, and Grunge, which makes them quite unique on stage. Professing their gratitude to the room, they played “What You Know,” which can be quoted by the band as “not a nice song.” The song is vibrant, funny, and most of all honest, which seems to be Hudson’s stage presence overall; honest artists with a story. They then followed through with their next song, “Got Me Down,” self-described as “a little bit of Blues and nastiness.” Here, the band unleashed a callback to Blues and downright sensual vocals as they serenaded the audience, dancing on stage to powerful bass lines. As the wailing guitar, harmonica, and piano/bass combo died down, they announced their last song, “Cast Out,” one which left the crowd hungry for more. Those who are interested in learning more about Hudson can check out their EP, entitled Cast Out, and prepare to be impressed.
Moving on, a spell was cast over the venue as otherworldly sounds filtered through the air, until pounding drums and a frenzy of guitar and bass followed up to introduce Stitched Up Heart. Those unfamiliar with the band, Stitched Up Heart is a charitable Metal band based in Los Angeles, California comprised of Vocalist Mixi, Guitarist Merritt, Drummer Decker, and Bassist Randy. Releasing their self-titled EP in 2010, their Escape the Nightmare EP in 2012, as well as Skeleton Key EP in 2014, the band is now set to drop their debut full-length album, Never Alone, on June 17th via Another Century. Having a promising future, Stitched Up Hearts came with energy they were ready to unleash on this New York City crowd.
Revved up, Mixi enticed the room, who responded with hooting, whistles, applause, and the occasional “I love you Mixi!” which prompted laughter and more whistling. Quite the frontwoman, Mixi said, “I wanna see some heads banging! Are you with me?” With that, the band proceeded to dive headfirst into “Finally Free” and crowd favorite “Turn You On.” Moving into “Never Alone,” this was the first point of the night where the audience had begun to headbang and they were frenzied at the raspy, growly vocals Mixi rattled out to them. As a nice complement to the assault, Stitch Up The Heart’s instrumentation was very atmospheric as Mixi transitioned from Hardcore to softer melodic vocals. Stitched Up Heart finished off with “Catch Me When I Fall,” then their new single “Monster” before they invited the crowd to come meet them. Many took advantage of the chance to go down and meet the band, snap some photos, and now wait patiently for the anticipated Never Alone album.
Three bands in, Gramercy Theatre was now filled with hyped-up fans and even some excited newcomers. As the intermission came to an end, a slurring guitar note reverberated through the floor, announcing Akron Ohio’s Red Sun Rising. Begun nearly a decade ago, Guitarist Ryan Williams and Vocalist/Guitarist Mike Protich, former high school classmates, had began a conversation about music at a gas station in town. In the year 2007, Red Sun Rising’s original lineup was made. Since that time, Williams, Protich, Bassist Ricky Miller, and Drummer Pat Gerasia built a following by putting their self-released albums on their social media websites. Continuing on, in 2014, the band signed with Razor & Tie. Building more fanfare on tour with the likes of Tremonti, they released their album Polyester Zeal in August 2015, a record that debuted at number eleven on the Billboard Hard Rock album chart and caught many by surprise. Joined by new guitarist Dave McGarry, Red Sun Rising look to continue to roll along as they fitting act as direct support for this HardDrive Live tour.
The mosh pit that began with Stitched Up Heart had now found a home with Red Sun Rising, whose hammering, angry guitar and intense vocals brought the venue to a frenzy of life as they began with “Push.” Moving on, they streamlined from song to song with pieces like “The Otherside” and “Awake” as everyone became lost in the energy of the music. Proving they are becoming a well-known band in the Rock community, the crowd responded positively with cheers as beer spilt from cups clutched in raised hands with loud voices.
Notably amongst the Hardcore and dirty guitar of Red Sun Rising was “My Muse” and an Alanis Morrissette cover, “Uninvited,” rendered completely unique in their own style. By the time Red Sun Rising wound down with “Amnesia” and “Imitation,” fists were pumped into the air and the chanting to the heavy distortion was magnetic. Then, with everyone’s hearts racing, the band concluded with “Emotionless” as voices from the floor could be heard singing along with each word. “You guys have been amazing,” the band proclaimed, and the crowd said their farewell to the powerful, moody music that is Red Sun Rising. Overall an engaging set, Red Sun Rising seem to be a band who has struck a chord with many. Perhaps it is their raw Rock-n-Roll sound, or perhaps it is their delightful persona on stage, whatever it is, their future is very bright.
With only one band left on the bill, the anticipation was inescapable within Gramercy Theatre as everyone awaited Sick Puppies. A band that is known to put on an amazing live performance, Sick Puppies have stolen shows where they were supporting other acts in the past as their fans belt out each word to each song. One could say many of the Sick Puppies fan base take the lyrics very personally, perhaps as a anthem to their own struggles in life. With that in mind, the idea that Sick Puppies was almost no longer following the departure of Moore, nearly broke countless hearts. Now it was time to be reborn and everyone’s curiosity ran wild as they watched for the arrival of Anzai, Scott, and Drummer Mark Goodwin on stage.
With that, the first hints of guitar distortion were heard and a huge applause exploded from the audience as the lights rose and revealed Sick Puppies. Before beginning with “War,” they stated, “We are Sick Puppies, and we need to see those hands in the air.” Suddenly all hands were up and all voices raised. As the headliner, Sick Puppies were granted the good fortunate of playing the longest set list, and what a list it was. Offering up fan-favorites such as “Cancer” and “Riptide” amidst heavy, new tracks from Fury such as “Stick to Your Guns” and later “Black & Blue,” the floor shook constantly. The chemistry between the trio seemed tight and smiles were exchanged as they continued on with other adored cuts like 2007’s “World” and the enchanting “White Balloons.”
Showing that Scott’s voice fits perfectly inside the songs of Sick Puppies, the singer showed poise and had the audience with him the entire set as they continued with other pieces such as “Maybe,” “All the Same,” and new song “Let Me Live” before the irresistible chant along of “Gunfight.” The band made it feel like a family event and they kept the heaviest in line with the melodic parts all set long. Offering up their own jolting cover of Rage Against The Machine’s “Guerilla Radio,” Scott hopped in the air and Anzai provided the unmistakable bassline. Concluding the show, the music poured out in an emotional flood, so did the band’s overwhelmingly positive message. Expressing to everyone, “Do not let anyone change you,” their finale came with the rough-housing “You’re Going Down.” Despite the heavy and violent edge of the song, it was clear Sick Puppies not only can convey many mediums through their music, but that they are at the top of their game, and one can barely contain their excitement while performing.
Inviting everyone to come say hello, Sick Puppies had a sea of fans eager to meet them and thank them for not fading away. Proving to be experts and masters of their genre, Sick Puppies craft a seamless blend of vocals and instrumentation that is addictive and undeniably talented. Their song selection left the stage pulsing as they delivered a show that was extremely well-paced and coordinated. As for the entire HardDrive Live Tour, it offered Rock fans a chance to see up-and-coming, rising, and established Rock bands all in one tight little package that was not to be missed.