If you heard the sound coming from the stage at Bogarts Thursday night, you’d be forgiven for thinking a full hard rock band was playing for the packed house. That sound, though, came from just a bassist and a drummer, the overdrive genius duo behind Royal Blood.
In the vein of Death from Above 1979 and with the inspiration of blues and hard rock, bassist and singer Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher dropped blazing bass riffs and driving beats on Short Vine that left you shaking. Royal Blood brings a unique sound to hard rock, but you can tell they’ve done their homework. Drops of mainstays like Foo Fighters and The Vines swirl in their tonal mixology. Kerr’s soaring vocal melodies bring Muse’s Matt Bellamy to mind, and Royal Blood’s meteoric rise to stardom reflects that of Muse in the early aughts.
Thatcher and Kerr first played together as teenagers in a four-piece band called Flavour Country. In 2013, the two reunited upon Kerr’s return from taking a year in Australia, and decided to form a new project. Streamlining their performance into a two-piece served them well; they opened for the Arctic Monkeys on tour in 2014, and the same year released their debut self-titled album with Warner Brothers Records to critical acclaim.
On June 16th this year, Royal Blood’s second studio album, How Did We Get So Dark?, debuted at number one on the UK Album Charts, shooting them to international rock star status. Their tour in support of the new album brought them to the stage in Clifton, along with their opener, the Arkansas-grown Welles. In the words of our own Taylor Fox, Welles’ sound is eighties glam metal turned nineties grunge, just the right mix to brace the crowd for the full force of Royal Blood. Welles will also be performing at Midpoint Music Festival next month.
Between Kerr’s roiling bass and lyrics throwing back to classic Brit Rock and Thatcher’s stoic performance and showy drumming, the crowd ate up Royal Blood’s performance. Even when Kerr’s bass malfunctioned at the beginning of the second song, but the band’s charisma on stage kept them rolling with it. Kerr even met the fans by the tour bus to take photos, sign posters, and casually talk about the performance; afterward he headed to a Short Vine bar to have a drink with the locals. It seems like it’s been a while since such a talented and amiable new rock band has swept the scene. It’s safe to say that Royal Blood is rock and roll in 2017.