Sometimes playing to the right room can make all the difference in the world. That was my first thought after leaving last Friday’s excellent Band of Skull’s show at Skully’s Music Diner. I had seen the band before, on their last visit to town at Newport Music Hall two years ago. It was a really good show. But the cozier confines of Skully’s, and perhaps the energy the more confined space brought, made all the difference in the world.
Opening with the brooding almost title track In Love By Default from their excellent new LP “By Default”, eased the band and audience into a rock n roll journey through the group’s career, setting the stage for a set list that expertly balanced new material and old fan favorites. Once they transitioned into Light of the Morning off their debut album “Baby Darling Doll Face Honey”, the crowd was fully engaged, singing and clapping along. From that point forward, the audience gave energy and the band responded, locking into a heavy blues groove they sustained throughout their 90 minute plus set. By the time the band got to fan favorite Patterns every fist was pumping along to the lyrics “but nothing’s going to save you from the SIX SIX SIX.”
As much as the right venue can aid a performance, the right crowd certainly counts for just as much. It seemed like every person crammed into Skully’s was a fan who had followed the band along it’s career trajectory and came ready to stomp, dance and sing along. The band has had a steady following in Columbus for years, getting regular airplay on CD1025 and making several appearances over the years in the capitol city, and it showed. I’ll take a room packed full of the right people any day over a bigger venue with folks staring down at their phones.
Vocalist/Guitarist Russell Marsden reaped the benefits of that engagement during Cold Fame, a quieter number that got off to a shaky start but ended with perhaps the night’s biggest sing along. The rhythm section, and in particular drummer Matt Hayward, held down a steady groove all night, while the addition of a keyboard player added extra flourishes to the power trio’s sound. I’ve always been impressed with the vocal harmonizing between bassist Emma Richardson and Russell, and her bass lines are even meatier and more impressive in a live setting. So if it was the right venue and right crowd, it took the right band to make the magic happen. Band of Skulls delivered. To quote their recent single, it was killer, killer, killer.
PS: if you’re hitting a subsequent stop on their US run, don’t forget to hit the merch table early to snag the snazzy tour poster signed by the band, as well as signed LP’s. Don’t sleep though, signed copies of both were scarce by the end of the night.
Check out the set list from Band of Skull’s at Skully’s Music Diner, 9/9/16 here.