Everyone — take a sigh of relief, because rock n’ roll is back and here to stay. Last night, The Pretty Reckless, Adelitas Way, and Crash Midnight graced the birthplace of rock n’ roll with their presence and reminded us what rock is all about.
Crash Midnight, a five-piece rock band from Boston, took over the stage first with a performance that was both refreshing and welcomed. It’s easy for a talented band like Crash Midnight to get on stage and play their music, but it takes a remarkable band to get up on that stage and perform their music. Crash Midnight not only sounded strong and rich with vocals and guitar riffs to make anyone nostalgic for the 70s, but they also moved around the stage with intense energy and genuinely engaged with each other and the audience throughout each song. For example, the guitarist flipped his guitar over his back and proceeded to play it backwards while the the bassist continued to strum his strings while in a backward bend. The vocalist, Shaun Soho, moved all around the stage engaging with each member of the band which, in my humble opinion, made the band seem more like a band — their interactions with each other on stage actually made it seem like they like each other. Another unique aspect of their performance was that Soho would go backstage every time a song ended and only returned after the band would play the intro to the next song. I’d be interested to know why Soho does this, but in my opinion I think his momentary absences allowed the spotlight to briefly be on the instrumentals for a change instead of the vocals.
After Crash Midnight’s high energy set, my ears were ringing and certainly didn’t stop ringing once Adelitas Way stormed on stage. Adelitas Way is a hard rock band from Las Vegas and is definitely not one to miss. I honestly thought it would be hard to top Crash Midnight’s performance, but Adelitas Way did not disappoint. All of their songs stand out from each other and are performed flawlessly — lead vocalist, Rick DeJesus, seemingly belts out each note with ease and is joined by an equally as confidant and proficient band — for example, the drummer, Trevor Stafford, would toss his drumsticks up in the air while playing and twirl them around or juggle them. Sure, maybe a lot of people can toss up drumsticks, but it takes real talent to able to do that while playing in front of a massive crowd at the House of Blues. Another aspect of their performance that really sets Adelitas Way apart from any other rock band out there today is the fact that they actually talk to the audience. Not many bands take the time to engage with crowds now a days — instead they just rush from song to song to finish their set as soon as possible, but Adelitas Way took time after each song to engage with us. For example, DeJesus conducted a game of rock, paper, scissors between two people and gave the winner a drumstick. Additionally, he talked a lot about rock n’ roll, saying that Clevelanders mainly listen to alternative and pop music which needs to change since Cleveland is where rock n’ roll all started. He went on to say that this entire tour is about saving rock n’ roll, which I definitely think they are succeeding at. Lastly, he said “you can do whatever you want with rock n’ roll, but you have to always protect the women.”
Once Adelitas Way exited the stage, the crowd started to get restless for The Pretty Reckless. A little history on The Pretty Reckless: the lead singer, Taylor Momsen, used to star in a melodramatic TV Show about obnoxiously rich New York City kids called Gossip Girl, but she quit the acting world to focus on music in 2009. In many ways I think her prior work as an actress benefits her — people know her name, know her band, and as a result flock to see her put on an incredible rock concert. Speaking of the concert — the entire night was perfect. Each band had a different sound and performance style, but at the end of the day (or night) rock is rock and I think that is what it was all about. Crash Midnight channeled 70s rock, Adelitas Way embraced hard rock, and The Pretty Reckless fused the best of Evanescence and Joan Jett to create, arguably, one of the best modern female-fronted rock bands around. Momsen’s voice is surprisingly bold, strong, and rich for such a small person, but I think that’s what makes her performance that much more incredible. Since she’s so small, she has the ability to float across the stage to hauntingly perform each song. Her prior work as an actress undoubtedly taught her how different movements convey different emotions, so it was clear the moment she stepped on stage that she carries her knowledge of acting with her into live performances. She took a lesson from Elvis and seductively danced when the music sounded sexier, lifted and dropped her arms to the rhythm of the beat, and just all together knew what to do on stage to enhance her performance. My only complaint is that she didn’t engage with the audience like the prior two bands did and it also felt like “The Taylor Show.” All eyes were on Taylor all of the time. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but it made it feel like we were seeing Taylor Momsen and not The Pretty Reckless. Regardless, Momsen’s performance was incredible, the band’s music is everything a modern rock band should aim for, and it was really nice to finally see a female-fronted band own the night.
In short, rock n’ roll is back and here to stay — if The Pretty Reckless, Adelitas Way, and Crash Midnight are coming to a city near you, you HAVE to go. It would be a crime not to.