By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Venue: The Social, Orlando, Florida–May 18, 2016–The Struts with Made Violent
The Struts were actually formed about five years ago when the lads were teens but they really caught stride in the UK by 2014 with the release of Everybody Wants and officially invaded the US in 2015. Last Summer seemed to be “The Summer of The Struts” when one could not escape the video commercial for “Could Have Been Me”. It would pop up in the side margin every time I surfed the internet or YouTube. It featured the band playing on the ferry boat on the Thames! I highly recommend Everybody Wants, which was reissued in Spring 2016 with additional tunes—and I have to say—it is money well spent. Download that sucker! Every song is straight up rock ‘n’ roll with a retro twist. If you like Queen, the Stones, or glam-rock, you’ll love this too.
Rock At Night got to catch The Struts at The Social in Orlando, Florida on May 18th. When I walked to the building, the line wrapped around the corner and I heard someone say it was sold out. The audience appeared to be half and half guys and gals in their 20s but I say the age range was between 20s and 40s. There were plenty of rock chicks dressed in torn fishnet stockings and Doc Martens….well-groomed guys with buzz cuts….and a few grey-haired folks….
Since there is no photo pit at The Social I tried to perch myself on some stairs on the side that led down to a recessed area for a standing stage crowd. The first band to play was Made Violent hailing from Buffalo, New York, so I knew this had to be good. People may make cracks about Buffalo but they have always had a rich rock culture and plenty of venues for bands. What else can you do in the winter snow storms except play music in the basement?
Out came the trio—drums, bass, and guitar—and they ripped into some good classic-sounding garage rock. The music had almost a White Stripes feel which I really dig. The curly mop-haired lead singer Joe White spoke a little between the songs, mostly commenting on the crowd not dancing or said “Whatever” a few times. I don’t know if he was seriously disappointed in the crowd or that was his sarcastic humor. I actually do not blame him because there were a lot of fist pumping and enthusiasm near the stage but the crowd at the rear (mostly males) were pretty much poker-faced. WTF? I have to agree with him, you do not go to a rock show to just stand there and stare, dammit.
What was annoying to me was the guy with the camera (notice I do not say “photographer”) who was using a speedlight. He got on the stage and shot a photo of the drummer about two feet from his face. I could see the disgusted look after, which I quickly captured because it was priceless. Then, a girl in a flowered dress and glasses was prancing around the whole evening with a camera in people’s faces, crawling on the side of the stage. Where was security?
In summary, Made Violent had a great repertoire of rock music and I will make a point to see them again—but maybe with a better or more receptive crowd. Also note to self—take a Xanax before gigs to help myself tolerate unprofessional photographers.
After the tear-down and quick stage set up, the smoke machines began pumping out loads of smoke which were carried around by fans. By this time of the evening, the room was blaring hot from all the body heat. It is Florida, afterall, and even though I was wearing shorts it was getting pretty miserable.
Finally, The Struts came out on stage. Adam Slack was standing on the right side of the stage, wearing a headband and long curly locks. Gethin Davis was behind the drum kit but was hard to photograph with the crash cymbal in the way. Jed Elliott stood with his might bass at the left side of the stage. Out pranced Luke Spillar wearing a sequined top and black pants—singing, dancing, and arm waving the whole time. The crowd was totally animated and into the music. They started out with “I Just Know/Roll Up” and “These Times Are Changing” but by the time the band played “Could Have Been Me” the audience was mental. Everybody was singing along, waving hands, dancing or swaying.
Luke had total command of the audience with arms reaching out and doing a lot of singing and “call and response” from the audience. Every time he would sing “ooh” or “aah” the audience would mimic. During “Put Your Money On Me” audience sang the “oh, yeah” parts. Everybody knew the lyrics, of course, to “Dirty Sex Money”….she knows what she’s got because she’s so shit hot…
The stage was small but Luke was constantly dancing and moving and admitted he was “tired”. It was so hot in the room that even Adam mouthed the words “It is fuckin’ hot in here”. Yes, I can lip-read. I was hoping that Luke would not pass out or something but he was a professional and gave 110 percent. These guys have a rigorous touring schedule and before the gig they did the obligatory VIP Meet and Greet and there was a contest to meet the band after the gig. How do they do it all?
Adam spoke to the audience during a brief time when Luke left the stage, likely to get a drink of water. Guys, why was there no water up there? I didn’t see any. He said he never imagined “in all his 23 years” of going to America let alone tour with a band.
There were a few “costume changes” for Luke during the evening so he showed off flowy caftan-like attire. The whole time I kept thinking it was Freddie Mercury reincarnated on stage. The music and the stage show made me think of Mott the Hoople (“All the Young Dudes”) and the total 70s glam-rock scene rolled up in one.
During the encore Luke and Adam did a nice acoustic rendition of “Black Swan”. This gave the guys a nice breather for this rip-roaring show (possibly the best I’ve seen this year). The show was FUN with a capital “F”!
I Just Know/RollUp
These Times Are Changing
Could Have Been Me
The Ol’ Switcheroo
Mary Go Round
Dirty Sexy Money
Let’s Make This Happen Tonight
Put Your Money On Me
Only Just a Call Away
Black Swan (acoustic)
Where Did She Go
ORLANDO-May 18, 2016
Made Violent Members: Justin Acee – drums, Joe White – vocals, and bass Rob Romano – guitar and vocals
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I grew up in a household full of rock music, studied journalism in college, and then became a scientist.Although my science career has served me well, music has always played a major role in my life. I grew up reading "Creem" magazine; I play several musical instruments as a "hobby";and it seems a camera has always been in my hand. Now, I am combining what I love the most--music and photography--serving as editor of Rock At Night. My motto: life is short...no regrets. Chyrisse