Every few years someone makes the bold proclamation that rock and roll is dead. Perhaps these rock naysayers are simply listening to the wrong music because the genre isn’t only alive and well, it is thriving.
Case in point, Highly Suspect, the Brooklyn-based, Massachusetts-born trio that melts faces with the ease of Hendrix, penetrates eardrums with Ginger Baker level drum solos and gets the party going with bass licks so funky even Bootsy Collins would have to turn his head. On Friday, Nov. 17, the east coast rockers brought their Boy Who Died Wolf Tour to Chicago’s House of Blues for the first performance in a two night stint – presented by WKQX – in the Windy City.
Let’s start at the end. Highly Suspect often concludes their pre-encore set with a jam to end all jams known as “ATL.” Ryan Meyer’s phenomenal drum solo – during which he perfectly teased a thunderous finale with patiently placed hits and kicks – made this a moment to remember in and of itself, but Johnny Stevens’ wailing guitars were the stuff of legend. Snippets of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” further accentuated the blues-influenced blow-out which illustrated the musical equivalent of an upheaval of the heart.
Earlier in the night, Stevens reminded fans of the participatory rules of their swagger-filled Mister Asylum banger, “Bloodfeather,” before sending everyone into a collective jumping fit that literally shook the floor of the packed venue. “Hey, kids. You know what’s not cool? Racism,” Stevens said prior to playing “Viper Strike” making sure to send out a special dedication for the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington DC adding, “Our president can suck my d*ck.”
Bassist Rich Meyer, whose cool, slinking lines anchored the entire set, took center stage during the smooth and seductive slow-burner, “Round and Round.” The Brothers Meyer of the rhythm section soon picked-up the tempo with “F*ck Me Up” as Stevens’ quick fingers hit every fret on the neck of his instrument. Fans hadn’t seen a guitar solo that fast – and phallic – since Prince played the Super Bowl.
Just like the rest of their performance, Highly Suspect’s encore was big and bold with hits including “Little One” and “Lydia” provoking universal sing-alongs from all in attendance. Oh yeah, and their crew is still as dope as ever.
Earlier in the night, Bones – out of the UK – alternated between grungy and crisp leads during an opening set that put to rest the misnomer that “Girls Can’t Play Guitar.” “Beautiful is Boring” and “Teeth” – which the group was performing live for only the seventh time – were further highlights of their short but satisfying performance.
Highly Suspect will continue to tour across North America through December before heading overseas in the new year. Check out HighlySuspect.net to keep up with the latest news and ticket info.