Don’t misunderstand me. I love a good metal show more than anything in the world, with screaming power cords, laser beams, flash pots, and confetti guns galore! But sometimes, I crave a more intimate setting, a simpler experience, without the bells and whistles. This is what I got when I checked out Theory of a Deadman at the House of Blues in Chicago, a stop on their current tour.
This was a show about nothing more than good old fashioned rock and roll, a band, and an audience with a few simple chords and great sing-along lyrics. If you feel what I feel, then you should check them out too! They are touring all spring alongside Pop Evil and Stellar Revival.
The first step towards a stellar (pun intended) show is to know your opening acts. Stellar Revival is an up-and-coming band out of Miami, Florida, that deserves to be on your radar. The music is nothing new, but it is solid and loud, and these guys know how to work an audience into a frenzy. With only a banner behind them, they captivated the House of Blues for thirty straight minutes. Breaking only to introduce and explain the next song, as they are promoting their first album on this tour.
There is only one single available on iTunes as of now, but keep checking. The catchy personal anthem “Edge of a Dream” and the power ballad “Saving Grace” are both available for your perusal on YouTube. And a special shout out to Rico Cerbone and Steve Morgan, who made themselves available for pictures after the show. I even caught them wandering the audience with a beer, bobbing their heads with the rest of us. These guys know how to start a party, and I hope to get my hands on their album fairly soon.
Not to be outdone, Pop Evil took the stage to a blaring sample of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, which I believe causes all hearers to bob their heads without conscious effort. The set list was comfortably divided between their two albums, 2008’s “War of Angels” and 2010’s “Lipstick on the Mirror”, each song more catchy than the last. Again, no one is reinventing the wheel, but these guys also know how to play loud and solid rock and roll. The audience sang right along for each song, especially the regret-tinged “100 in a 55”, which was a solid radio hit off their first album.
And even if the show was terrible (which it wasn’t by any means, but every band has off days), you cannot help but respect a lead singer who has been trying to walk across the audience since 2009. There are videos of Leigh doing this all over YouTube, and he doesn’t always make it. At House of Blues, he managed to get past the first chorus of “Hero” before he crashed flat on his ass about 15 yards from the stage. Kudos to Leigh for climbing back up and going right into the next verse before the guitar part was over. From the sound of the cheering when he reappeared, one can’t blame him if he starts falling on purpose.
Following a quick set change, the musical interlude “Blame Canada” from South Park: The Movie blasted from the speakers as Theory of the Deadman took the stage, an homage to their hometown in British Columbia, Canada. I spoke with Dave Brenner, lead guitar player for Theory, back in October, fresh off the release of their latest album “The Truth Is”. “Rock and roll can come from happy times or from problems,” he said, and the set list reflected a perfect mix of both.
Theory of a Deadman can be counted on for keeping the mood going if you want to cry because she’s gone or if you want to scream because she won’t leave, and each song is relatable, and just pure rock and roll heaven. The sound was spot-on, and the band was able to consume the energy of the audience and spit it back in our faces.
While not brave enough to try to walk across the audience, Tyler Connolly knows how to interact with more than just the first few rows. By the time Theory broke into “Hate My Life”, their anthem of unsatisfied dreams and personal dissatisfaction, we in the audience were a part of the band, singing with them and swaying in time, perhaps spilling a little beer as we crashed into our neighbors. But that is what a rock and roll show is about.
All in all, this was an intensely satisfying experience, and, even if you cannot catch this spring tour, I highly recommend Theory of a Deadman in a small, intimate show like the House of Blues. Now, back to the amphitheater I go!
For more on their tour dates, please visit Theory of a Deadman.