By Lisa Burke
July 25th 2017, The Viper Room, West Hollywood CA: America’s got talent and you don’t need a TV show to tell you that if you pay attention to the present and future of live rock n’ roll which is out there, ready to take back the lead title from all the pop stars that currently stand in the limelight. Watching young talent composite intellectually and historically sound tunes before your eyes on a Tuesday in West Hollywood at The Viper Room is just what the doctor ordered, and on July 25th 2017, I saw three talented rock bands in a well put-together sold-out show, Greta Van Fleet, Joyous Wolf and Thunderpussy. As this was a semi early show with only three bands it actually worked out well with the timing and even though the headliner was the second band to play, those who knew what was best for them got a pleasant surprise at the end with Joyous Wolf’s charmingly original set.
Back to the beginning of the adventure, Seattle based all-female blues rock band Thunderpussy took the stage fashionably late after the chaos of packing in the house with a sold-out crowd seemingly dominated by industry patrons was well under way. The heat was on in every sense of the word, and flashy costumes on skillful and eager musicians brought the stage to life. The vocals were well keyed, the beats set the pace boundaries, and the strings fronted the groove. Aside from the showy yet tasteful glitzy outfits there was a fairly somber soulful bluesy vibe that was a bit of a slower pace than one might imagine from the connotations of the band name. Here lies an interesting conundrum with any band where the name, style of music, and style of dress all need to tell a cohesive story within the first five minutes of stage time in order to really succeed in all aspects intended. Thunderpussy did accomplish this in their own right, but the thunder part of the equation to a first timer was a little bit hidden in the introduction. There is no denying that a large amount of rock n’ rollers who are unfamiliar with the band itself would jump a bit with excitement on the name alone. As I said this band was spot on with the skill, talent, and entertainment factor so the only critique here is the lack of surprise that one might expect in this band, yet the lyrics and class behind what they intended may push this to a null and void wishful thought after all.
If you are unfamiliar, the largest draw of the night and the reason the show sold out so quickly was due to Michigan based Greta Van Fleet which is comprised of four very young and very talented musicians, featuring three Kiszka brothers two of which are twins who play guitar and bass, while the youngest member who must have been around 12 years old when the band formed in 2012 takes on the singer role. Imagine Geddy Lee from Rush and Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin mixing their voices together and having a baby and that is what this vocalist sounds like, and perhaps even looks like. His sheer energy and clarity ranked among the pros, and why shouldn’t it, I suppose. The unique trait of twins on the chords is that often times they break into unison choreography without even intending it, and rumor has it they are 20 years old, so multiply that by 20,000 and you might be getting closer to how much their talent would be worth if you could put a price on talent. As is the case with all bands, watching a YouTube video does not do the live experience justice. This band is no exception and it must be said that although they definitely sound almost too close to Led Zeppelin at times, it can be written off as the equivalent of them writing the next Led Zeppelin hit rather than copying the past renditions. The outcast of the bunch only for not being a blood relative was on fire with the drums from start to finish and very well rounded out the group. Probably the most intriguing find of all with Greta Van Fleet is in the wonderment of how these youngsters mastered that seventies sound so well while still finding all the appropriate relevance in modern day. I’m sure thanking their parents would be a good place to start, and though I really am unaware of how their path to notoriety came about, I must commend them for the quick achievable outcome. They seem to be the talk of the town and unless you see the live presence that is full of complexities while seeming so effortless, you will never understand the power either.
After that hour of exceptional musicianship, those who waited for the next band, Los Angeles based Joyous Wolf, did not leave disappointed. I don’t think any other rock band could do justice after Greta Van Fleet’s set but Joyous Wolf did that and so much more. The first time I saw this band, I was blown away by the amount of talent in such a young band aging around 20-21 years old as well. These two bands probably haven’t even drank alcohol legally yet but they have given legendary rock stars a run for their money on a historical stage. Rock n’ roll is here to stay whether anyone likes it or not, and seeing these young musicians master and conquer their predecessors is more refreshing than a cold glass of vodka in a scorching packed venue. Vocalist Nick Reese brings a mix of Chris Cornell from Soundgarden and Freddie Mercury from Queen into his unique and pitch perfect style that encompasses a vast range. The guitars are played with accuracy well beyond its years and this band having only been three years in existence should be very excited for the future which can only get better from here on out. While Joyous Wolf plays rock n’ roll with primary influences from the nineties and late eighties, they are even more involved in making the vibe as modern as possible and some could argue that this band was the highlight of the night. If they only had the hype the previous band has, they could have taken the true headliner spot with ease and pride. Those who chose to bail after Greta Van Fleet truly missed out on the whole heart and spirit that encompassed the night.
To all these bands that rocked the blood, sweat, and tears out on a Tuesday night on the Sunset Strip, keep doing what it is you do best, and may be we can get a new well-deserved revolution, since history tends to repeat itself and it’s about damn time rock n’ roll dominated the music industry again. Keep your ears and eyes peeled for the future of these bands because this type of talent deserves long-term survival that is highly up to the noble fans to sustain.
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