It was during the deep freeze of last December's winter when roughly 500 of the frozen and the faithful piled into the Main Street Armory's downstairs venue. The crowd was alive with the bizz-buzz about The Struts — Derbyshire, England's gift to rock 'n' roll.
The band was straight-up sing-along glam rock. It delivered with grandiose rock god posturing and a huge sound that qualified the band to play the Armory's big stage upstairs, which it will be doing on Friday. However, front man Luke Spiller doesn't pay much mind to the size of the venue.
When The Struts strut on the stage — big or small — it automatically becomes a house of the holy. "That's the beauty of it," Spiller says. "But my voice sounds better in a larger venue, of course."
The onstage sensation that is The Struts all comes down to Spiller, who exudes the classic prance and androgyny of artists like Little Richard, David Johansen, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and most of all Freddie Mercury. The band isn't quite as operatic as Queen, and it grinds a little dirtier, but the melody and pop sensibility serves to temper the rest of the band's sheer power.
Hi-profile gigs opening for The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Foo Fighters have catapulted the quartet to world-wide attention. Yet it was just barely a year ago that the band laid it down for a few in-the-know Rochester rockers.
But according to Spiller, the band is far from a mere rock 'n' roll cliché. "It's all about keeping a balance, to be honest," Spiller says between takes in the studio. "I like to have classic elements in the music but try and push it somewhere rock has not yet gone. Plus, I'd like to think I have good taste and therefore I can smell a cliché a mile away. We're not just a glam rock band. It's presented in a glamorous way, but musically it's tougher than that. I wouldn't want to just regurgitate that genre."
Spiller says it's all about taking it to a new place, like Lady Gaga. "I consider her glam pop, Spiller says.
Spiller is paying homage to the genre and its reigning stylist, Zandra Rhodes, who designed and made stage outfits for Freddie Mercury. Rhodes designed a shimmering blue cape for Spiller for The Strut's 2014 Isle of Wight Festival performance.
"She's fantastic," Spiller says. "She's such a wonderful lady. I think I'm due another outfit from her soon."
This is measuring up to be the year of The Struts as the band promises, as Spiller puts it, "to bring rock music back to the Top 40 and make the greatest music people have heard in a long time."