I had the great fortune a few years ago to catch the Rival Sons performance in a small Seattle dive bar in the Ballard neighborhood called the Tractor Tavern. The crowd was so small, less than 200 people, that I had to wonder if anyone in Seattle had ever heard of the band. Better yet, how did no one in Seattle know they were in town? Was it bad taste in music, lack of proper show promotion, or just disconnected music fans? Whatever the reasoning, I was able to stand next to the stage and so close to the band you’d have thought we were all close friends, we were that close. Well happy (and a bit sad to say) the crowds are not that small this time around for sure! Great for the band, not so much for fans who prefer the intimate setting.
This North American tour they are playing in huge arenas to sell out crowds. If you haven’t heard, the Rival Sons are currently on tour with Black Sabbath on “The End” tour. Playing at such huge event’s is nothing new to these seasoned musicians from Long Beach, CA. They have toured the world and played many of the big music festivals where crowd numbers can easily reach 80,000 or more fans. Such festivals as Download Music Festival and Isle of Wight Festival in the United Kingdom, Germany’s Rock Am Ring and Rock Im Park festivals and this past summer they played in the Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, OH. They are perfectly comfortable in a small setting or a large setting, they just hit the stage and bring the rock funk to life.
I don’t think the crowd quite knew what to expect as the light’s dimmed and the music started playing, but I can tell you it didn’t take them long to fall in line. As the band started off the night with Electric Man from their 2014 release Great Western Valkyrie, Scott Holiday let his guitar rip and was soon joined by Mike Miley on the drums, Dave Beste on bass, Todd Ögren-Brooks on the keyboard and Jay Buchanan’s unmistakable voice wailing out the first; Yeah. There was a clear energy shift in the arena that holds about 23,000 fans for a sold out event. It went from a busy crowd of t-shirt and beer buyers to a hurried I need to get to my seat frenzy of fans.
The band continued on with their short but funky set whilst people in the crowd were dancing and singing along to the music. The Rival Sons have what can best be described as a rock funk sound, a little bluesy, a little funky and lot of rock. They are not a band you would expect to have paired with Black Sabbath on tour, but it was very pleasing and worked quite well. The Rival Sons have four albums that have been released; Before the Fire, Pressure & Time, Head Down and Great Western Valkyrie. I would highly recommend seeing them while they are out on tour. They are doing a few solo gigs along the Black Sabbath tour route, so definitely check their tour dates on their website and see if they are coming to your area. You won’t be disappointed by any Rival Sons show. These guys are a live show kind of band. Extremely polished and entertaining.
Setlist (Songs performed were off of the following albums: Great Western Valkyrie, Pressure & Time and Head Down)
Burn Down Los Angeles
Where I’ve Been
Open My Eyes
Keep On Swinging