Boulder Theater, Boulder, Colorado
Thursday January 26, 2017 :
The lights dimmed to a low, deep blood red as Dinosaur Pile-Up walked onto the Boulder Theater stage giving the place a raw and grungy feel; a vibe reminiscent of what I can only imagine the early ’90s Seattle scene to have been like. It seemed pretty fitting, however, being that this three piece alt-rock band from Leeds has been labeled one of the best grunge revivalist acts in music today.
Like most opening bands on any lineup, however, it took three or four songs for singer/guitarist Matt Bigland, drummer, Mike Sheils, and bassist, Jim Cratchely, to feel out the audience and vice versa. Most of the set was a good mix between old and new material that created a slowly building roar from the ‘I’m here for Chevelle’ dominant crowd.
It was with the last three songs where the trio showed off their true power and authority giving the growing crowd a true sense of what they could do. ‘Anxiety Trip’’s mix of heavy guitar riffs and ‘Bigland’’s guttural Cobain sounding scream over a more Royal Blood sounding crunch began a charging ascent into the rhythmic and Nirvana-esque pounding of, ‘Traynor’, before finally finishing off the crowd with a blistering performance of the their latest single, ‘Eleven Eleven’. After three albums and numerous tours over eight years, Dinosaur Pile-Up seem like they could be ready for bigger stages across the country so it should be interesting to see where they go from here.
Black Map, an established Bay Area rock trio consisting of Ben Flanagan on vocals and bass, guitarist Mark Engles, and drummer Chris Robyn, came onstage next to an ever growing crowd. After a quick introduction, the band led off the set with ‘I’m Just the Driver,’ an immediate glimpse of the polished, down-tuned and heavy sound that this band has become known for. The song is full of thumping bass and drums lines, powerful, big guitar riffs, and forgive me if I go out on a limb, but a Flanagan voice that has a Bono sound quality only with more of stinging grit when screaming the song’s verse.
In the days leading up to the show, I listened to quite a few tracks off their first EP, 2014’s, ‘…And We Explode,’ as well the latest single, ‘Run Rabbit Run’ off the soon to released In Droves, finding it be an authentic heavy rock sound, one that doesn’t seem as ‘manufactured’ as most music on radio today. Obviously I was quite interested to see how it would all translate in a live setting. That interest was laid to rest as they simply annihilated the tracks one by one starting from ‘Run Rabbit Run’ two songs in, through powerful takes on ‘Head for the Hills’, ‘Eyes on the Prize’ and ‘Gold’ before ending the show with another new song, ‘Ruin’.
With the March 10 release of In Droves, I fully expect to see Black Map headlining their own tour across the country but wondering why they aren’t playing the 2017 festival scene where they could really make an impact.
As for Chevelle, what else can you say that hasn’t already been said about these guys? The power trio has built their name and rock credentials on the solid foundation of nearly two decades on the music scene, compiling seven amazing records including 2002’s platinum selling Wonder What’s Next, and playing countless shows all over the world. Their drive to stand out among the industry’s heavy hitters has created a faithful following of fans while at the same time bringing new faces into the crowd; a fact that was quite apparent within the wide age demographic of the crowd.
From the first power chords of ‘Another Know it All,’ through ‘The Clincher,’ new track, ‘Take Out the Gunman,’ and ‘Get Some,’ Chevelle created a frenzy of screaming fans all belting out the lyrics to each song that didn’t stop. The announcement of ‘Face to the Floor’ and ‘I Get It’ took the night’s energy to a mid-set foundation rocking high while I moved to the balcony watching a sea of head bangers, mosh pitters, and fists in the air grow larger with each note. But what would a Chevelle show be without their monster hits, ‘The Red,’ or ‘Send the Pain Below?’ They could have honestly started the show with either but routinely saved them for a powerful close to the show.
The 1,100 people that filled Boulder Theater were treated to a true, unadulterated rock show set early in motion by two well-rounded bands only to be finished off by one of the best in rock music. The rock gods had to have applauded in overwhelming approval.
Reviewer and Photographer : Joe Rogers