Introducing The F Word. This will be an online column for me to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We’ll have reviews and previews, we’ll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we’ll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let’s get started.
The Struts are more than they appear to be. On the surface, it’s a band of glam androgyny and flash. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an arena-grade rock band in larval form with room to explode. You’ve heard it before, but when it’s done right you want to hear it some more. With The Struts it’s safe to believe the hype.
I got my ya-ya’s out last Friday night over at the Main Street Armory as I was bathed in the sweaty swagger of the English glam rockers. The band isn’t too cliche, but they sure let you know where they are coming from: Queen, The Sweet, T-Rex, and so on.
Most view glam rock in the rear view mirror (as they check their lipstick). And while no one is out to destroy it, glam is moving into obscurity or becoming misunderstood. There are a few bands with flourishes of glam, and there are bands like The Struts who pay it tribute and keep it viable. But is it enough to save glam rock?
And I find it hard to believe that name — The Struts — hasn’t been taken. Anywhat, front man Luke Spiller sounded and looked great. He hit theatrical highs, egging the crowd on as if it were cheerleader boot camp, and cathedral, vocal highs. He has the Jesus Christ rock star personae down ... almost. The man doesn’t yet pose with enough dismissive cool.
What’s missing in their street strut is some street swagger like, say, The New York Dolls. The Struts are nice. The Dolls were not. The Struts could use a little mean, a little intimidation — pour a little slop and sleaze on it why don’t ya?
And though not nearly as over the top as KISS, The Struts owe a lot to this generation’s Fab Four, in particular Paul Stanley. Guitarist Adam Slack repeatedly went to the upper octave hammer chords that I can’t get enough of. Maybe The Struts could cover “Strutter.” Hell, The Replacements did.
Saturday night, after spending the day car shopping — I’d rather shave my ass and squat in a bowl of gin than go through that again — I headed over to The Rosen Krown to watch American Acid play a feverish set of low down, guitar-driven rock. The trio rocked the specters in this upper Monroe ghost town, who mixed and mingled with a crowd I could count on the fingers of one hand. AA brought the heat anyway.
Instrumentalists The Tombstone Hands followed as a few more people trickled through the door. Guitarist Steve Litvak took the stage and proceeded to blend precision big tones with Link Wray abandon. Litvak is obviously a disciple of the instrument on the whole and manages to shoehorn the ghosts of its masters admirably. It was big and loud. But to bastardize an old saying: if it’s too loud, you ain’t old enough.
After getting wrung out by The Struts, a good portion of the audience made for the door — they wanted to avoid the risk of seeing headliners Dashboard Confessional, I guess — which resulted in an Uber clusterfuck as people clutching their cell phones routinely got into the wrong car. It was like musical chairs on wheels or an episode of “Black Mirror.” I would’ve laughed, but I was one of the confused standing there in the cold, trying to find my way home.
Congratulations to Mastodon for its Grammy win. Upon the occasion of another Grammy nod, I remember asking Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor what he was going to wear to the festivities and he said something along the lines of a diaper and bunny ears while riding a tricycle. Well, Dailor’s tastes have matured some as he sported a cool blue suit instead this year.
And check out our new, single-rich feature, “Fresh Cuts.” We're debuting The Mighty High and Dry's new single, "I Was Living Here."