April 3, 2014
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Andy Upton
Photos by Paul Wilkins
Chevelle Revs Up The House of Blues
If you were looking for some solid rock-n-roll music, the sold-out Chevelle show at the Dallas House of Blues was the place to be. The three-band bill of Chevelle, Middle Class Rut and Nothing More played some good old-fashioned rock that was definitely appreciated by the fans in this time of radio pop-rock.
Opening band Nothing More, from San Antonio, Texas had the crowd off on the right foot by weaving soaring vocals, hard driven rock melodies and periodic in-song jam sessions. Shirtless and barefooted lead singer Jonny Hawkins was all over the place while singing highs and lows with equal precision. Bassist Daniel Oliver, drummer Paul O'Brien and guitarist Mark Vollelunga kept the sound tight and powerful throughout.
Highlighted songs were; "This Is The Time (Ballast)" & "Salem" when the whole band playing different types of drums throughout and the moment when Jonny, Daniel and Mark all played the bass guitar while hooked up to a stand - it was a sight to be seen!
The second band on the bill, Middle Class Rut, which is actually a duo-vocalist/guitarist Zack Lopez and drummer/vocalist Sean Stockham. They both make up for the lack of band members by putting out a ton of sound. They have graduated from pop/punk Vans Tour type music to a straight-on rock machine. They come across as wanting to sound like Jane's Addiction as every other selection reminded me of "Mountain Song." Good musicians but relied too much on special effects and backing tracks. A stripped down version of their biggest hit "New Low" was the bright spot of the set.
Headlining band Chevelle; vocalist/guitarist Pete Loeffler, drummer Sam Loeffler and bassist Dean Bernardini, came on stage in a sea of lights, swirling sounds and immediately launched into "The Clincher." Crunching guitar and steady strumming bass notes made this by far my favorite Chevelle song. An uneven backing vocal effort brought down "Same Old Trip" but a riveting rendition of the new single, "Take Out The Gunman" had the crowd right back in. Cascading red lights from every area of the stage gave the illusion of blood that went along with the theme of the song.
"Closure," from 2002's Wonder What's Next LP, showed us Pete's vocal range and Dean's ability to make the walls shake with his thumping bass guitar. Chevelle's 2009 offering, Sci-Fi Crimes gave us a crisp version of "Jars" that had the crowd singing. Another new song, "Hunter Meets Hunter" from their 2014 disc La Gargola, provided a more solid guitar work and might just be their next radio hit. "Hats Off to the Bull," "Forfeit" and "Vitamin R" (Leading Us Along) filled the middle of the show with recognizable hits that had the balcony section up with a frenzy. "Face to the Floor," from 2011's Hats Off to the Bull, closed the original set with an exclamation point. Exhausted, the crowd cheered and screamed for more and Chevelle were happy to oblige. The three song encore of "The Red," 'Send the Pain Below" and "I Get It," were all smashing examples of their capabilities to rock out to the fullest.
It is hard to believe that Chevelle have been around for fifteen years with seven albums. Pete was magnificent all night, Dean's was awesome and, even though you hardly noticed him, Sam's drumming was perfect. Some of the new songs they played lost the general audience but the diehard fans were rewarded. Even though Chevelle has been labeled post-grunge and alternative metal, I consider them a great hard rock band and this concert proved that.