October 8, 2016
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Tim Taylor
Photos by Terry Walsh
The Struts - The Struts, Beware of Darkness Band
UK Rockers Struts Through Texas
For those who don't know, Trees has historically been THE venue in Dallas that up-and-coming bands play just before hitting it big. It's been twenty-five years since the infamous Nirvana show there, and legendary bands like Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Marilyn Manson, Radiohead, Soundgarden, 311, Alanis Morissette, and Lamb of God are just a few of the artists who blew out our eardrums in this club on their way to becoming superstars. Every time I go to Trees now, I wonder if I'm about to see the next music phenomenon, and with the two young bands they showcased last weekend, The Struts with opening act Beware Of Darkness, there's little doubt that the future of rock n' roll was on display in front of an enthusiastic sold-out crowd.
First up was Beware of Darkness, a powerful rock trio from Los Angeles. Riding high after the release of their outstanding second album Are You Real? less than a month ago, it was clear that this wasn't just a forgettable opening act. These guys were there to make a statement, and force the mob of young rockers to remember their raw, guitar-driven sound with tracks like the determined "Muthafucka" and the adrenalizing "Howl" from their debut record Orthodox.
Lead singer/guitarist Kyle Nicolaides was smooth and cool on the left side of the stage while Daniel Curcio pounded on his bass and drummer Tony Cupito flew out of his chair while crushing his drums. The infectious chorus of "Summer Daze" and the sexy, bluesy "Sugar in the Raw" showed the band's diversity, but the highlight of the set was "Angel," with its creepy, quiet verses separated with the heaviest riff of any of their songs. They wrapped things up with their latest single, "Dope," which has a hook that could drive it straight to the top of the charts with a little airplay. It was clear that Beware of Darkness had made a lasting impression as the crowd sang along and shouted their approval.
UK rockers The Struts were the headliners of the evening, and while everyone was expecting them to be a fun live band, I don't think anyone knew what they were really in for. From the very beginning of opening song "Put Your Hands Up," they had the audience moving, and lead singer Luke Spiller had everyone in the palm of his hand. It's rare to see someone have that kind of command over his fans. Throughout the night, anytime he told them to sing, jump, and put their hands in the air, every last person in the building followed orders.
These guys put on a full-on arena rock show in a small club, and while their debut album Everybody Wants is entertaining, it doesn't compare to what these guys are capable of live. Songs like "These Times are Changing" and "Kiss This" pumped everyone full of adrenaline while Spiller mimicked every move you've ever seen from Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, and Freddie Mercury. His energy and flamboyance fueled the performance, and it was next to impossible to take your eyes off of him. The band was every bit as fired up as he was, as guitarist Adam Slack hammered out riff after riff while Jed Elliott and Gethin Davies kept the danceable rhythms going. Tracks like "The Ol' Switcheroo," "Dirty Sexy Money," and "Where Did She Go" show influences ranging from Cheap Trick to the Stones, and they have the stage presence and talent to be mentioned in the same breath as those bands one day. They are that dynamic of a live band!
As the club let out after this show, there were stunned, smiling faces. Everyone was on a good, old fashioned rock n' roll high, and none of us could fathom what we had just seen. These two bands were very different, but I expect both to be playing bigger venues the next time they roll through town. The future of rock n' roll is in very good, capable hands!