Before anything is said, I have to make it clear that I’ve never been to show featuring bands whose sounds were so radically different (except that one grindcore/witch-house/experimental jazz basement show that I got completely too wasted at during my freshman year of college.) However, Wednesday’s show at the Canal Club featured RVA locals The Concussion Theory, Gritter, and the UK-based alternative rock duo Royal Blood. Although all of the bands were good in their own way, seeing them play together was almost like hearing about your buddy’s awful Stick n’ Poke involving an upside-down cross, a slice of pizza, and the words “Live Fast.”
Richmond’s own pop-punk trio, The Concussion Theory, opened the night by taking us back to that one phase in high school where all we did was pretend to skate, listen to Blink-182, and longingly stare at that one girl/guy we wished we would’ve lost our virginity to. Their set was filled with melodic riffs, songs about suicide and love, and a crowd filled with possibly high-school-aged girls. Yet despite all of the stereotypes surrounding the pop-punk scene, these guys managed to pull it off. Their charmingly awkward attempts at conversation with the audience and heartfelt lyrics made it really hard to dislike them and were signs that, back in high school, they were probably hanging out with us in the parking lot behind the cafeteria.
Immediately afterwards came Gritter, who were without a doubt the night’s best act. As soon as vocalist Ryan Kent let out the primal scream, I knew that playtime was over. Of course, the group of ex-military-looking guys that suddenly poured in front of the stage was also a sure sign that I should have grabbed my camera and braced myself for the storm that was about to hit us all. Adam Kravitz’ guitar work went beyond that of any other band in their genre, and even just the expressions in these musicians’ faces let you know that this wasn’t some sort of gimmicky shit. These guys were fucking real.
After Gritter stepped off the stage, Bristol-born Royal Blood came on. I’m sure that front-man Michael Kerr’s first three, accent-laden words made more panties drop that I ever probably will, but beyond the fact that they came all the way from the UK to play at the Canal Club, Royal Blood’s brand of music, officially called “Alternative”, is really not much more than just Butt Rock.
To those who don’t know, butt rock is actually a thing. Think of Three Days Grace, Chevelle, etc.; though not technically bad, and easily marketable, it’s unimaginative and ultimately does not bring anything to the table that was not there before.
Yet listening to butt rock on the radio and listening to it live are two completely different experiences. Royal Blood definitely knows how to entertain a crowd, considering that throughout the whole show, I kept glancing at a middle-aged couple pseudo-dancing in front of the stage.
It’s only natural that by the end of the night, there were small clusters of fans outside smoking, each very blatantly representing the band they came to see. Once we were all inside though, everyone dropped the tribal-esque mentality they had going on; high schoolers were moshing with fully tattoed guys who had biceps the size of their thighs, while the cool middle-aged couples danced themselves into a Budweiser-induced stupor.