Working into Day 3 of this Music Marathon, I found myself once again seeing music I was unfamiliar with and had little knowledge of beforehand so I had no expectations. The only thing that made tonight’s show different was the venue – The Palace Theatre, where I would see a vastly different crowd take in the great music Albany has to offer compared to the usual shows I attended.
Unfortunately, I walked into this show with Nickelback on my mind, but only for the most hilarious reasons. Starset snapped me out of it with symphonic sounds brought about by lead singer/keyboardist Dustin Bates, who spoke to me later citing Hans Zimmer, Nine Inch Nails and Sigur Ros as influences on their sound. I was impressed, and reminded of Stabbing Westward amid the intensity of the show. The band wore light up masks which added depth to the pageantry, capped off by mentioning the “Starset Society”, a latter day KISS Army or nonpoint Nation. The concept of a band-driven community instead of a community-driven band intrigues me – its the opposite of what I’m used to, but if it keeps the fan base strong, go for it.
The audience for the three bands was such a mix of rock fans, young and old, kids with parents and parents without kids. I knew nothing about these bands but couldn’t help but remark on the diversity of the crowd, the metal heads and rock stars lightly thrashing to the music throughout the night. It was a nice break from the usual for me and The Pretty Reckless were the stand out set of the night. With a “For Whom the Bell Tolls” intro followed by sounds of a woman moaning, this female fronted band was heavy, but not metal. Taylor Momsen has great stage presence and an incredible voice, while drummer Jamie Perkins looks like Mick Foley. They have a good ‘rock god’ motif down, and has an edge of Pantera influence to the music, especially on “Going to Hell.” Overall I found The Pretty Reckless to be like Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, but from the wrong side of the tracks, and by wrong I mean the hard rocking side. They were great.
Halestorm, fronted by Lzzy Hale made this night into a rarity – two female-fronted rock bands, and I could only count four off the top of my head upon Halestorm taking the stage (Heart, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Hole, L7). Encouraging fans to raise their devil horns high, I heard Whitesnake through the guitar work of Joe Hottinger and an altogether more polished sound than The Pretty Reckless.
The set seemed to mellow about halfway through – the first seven or eight songs were straight fire, but the drum solo and all that followed were underwhelming. They could have thrown in a Def Leppard cover or something – the lack of covers this night surprised me greatly – but instead it was all originals. “Apocalyptic” was pretty solid, and the three encores were good and catchy, especially “Like a Reckoning”, but it was pushing on soft rock at that point. To cap the night, the band had the crowd serenade bassist Josh with “Happy Birthday” while toasting shots of Jagermeister. Halestorm is solid and has a rightful following, but I’m thinking that The Pretty Reckless could lap them in a few years time, with Starset showing strong potential if the fans can dig it.
Next up for Seven Day Music Marathon: I head to Saratoga Springs for Dave Pedinotti and the Masters of Nostalgia at One Caroline Street.