The 70s Era of Hard Rock Returns to the Viper Room

By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images

If anyone were to ask me what my favorite era of music, I would answer both the 1990s and 1970s. The 1990s was when I was exposed to great music, because I grew up during that decade. It was a time when groove metal, “good” pop music, gangsta rap, and alternative rock ruled the airwaves. While I did get my rock ‘n’ roll education from my dad, the 90s sound was really where I got into music. My favorite era for hard rock/heavy metal was the 1970s. It was when rock had reached its full potential, and peaked to musical perfection. We music lovers like to call that decade, “The Vinyl Era.” There is one young group I recently discovered that is heavily influenced by the Vinyl Era. They call themselves Greta Van Fleet, originating from Frankenmuth, Mich. On July 25th, they made their official Los Angeles debut by performing to a sold-out crowd at the Viper Room, with Thunderpussy and Joyous Wolf. So, of course, Matt Martinez and I drove to Hollywood to check out these young rockers, who have over 2 million followers on Spotify. That is impressive.

First to take the stage was the smoldering all-girl group from Seattle, Wash., Thunderpussy. As soon as the first riff was played on the opener, “Speed Queen,” I was hooked. Their sound and debonair look reminds me of the Runaways. It has been a while since I have seen a band use sex as a weapon on stage, as well as these ladies do. Frontwoman Molly Sides has a very sultry voice to go along with her enthralling stage presence. It is like she is seducing the fans with her enticing vocal work, almost like that of a siren’s call. She embodies the attitude of Cherie Currie, the voice of Janis Joplin and Lady gaga, sex appeal of Madonna, and raw charm of David Lee Roth. She is the total package, a lethal weapon. Along with guitarist Whitney Petty, who emulates Jimmy Page and Lita Ford with her retro shredding, they controlled their set. Sometimes, they locked eyes with each other, as if the power of their tunes is served to unlock even more of their fiery passion. Drummer Ruby Dunphy and bassist Leah Julius rattled the rhythm section with gusto. Armed with exhilarating songs like “UteroTango” and “Gentle Frame,” Thunderpussy scorched the fans, and they could not contain their love for the girls. My favorite song performed was their single, “No Heaven.” Closing the evening with the tune named after them, Sides took her mic and aimed it at the crowd in a provocative manner, while Petty used the mic stand to shred like crazy. They are currently unsigned, but I have a feeling that will change soon enough. Thunderpussy personifies new rock ‘n’ roll empowerment for women. Cheers to that, baby!

Full Thunderpussy slideshow below:

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The heat was turned up in the room; as the crowd bunched together just to get a glimpse of the newest rock heroes, Greta Van Fleet. They consist of the Kiszka brothers, Josh (vocals), Sam (bass), and Jake (guitar), and family friend, Danny Wagner (drums). Their debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, has been gaining momentum and rock fans are in love with it. They opened up with the self-titled “Black Smoke Rising,” which awakened my rock ‘n’ roll spirits. Josh is an amazing singer, who sounds; I shit you not, much like Robert Plant. He was sporting a retro Indian style shirt that is very 70s. While Josh mesmerized the fans with his voice, Jake was jamming to some hard edge, bluesy licks. There was one instance where he actually tore up a mean solo while playing behind his back. His playing reminds me of Jimi Hendrix, Leslie West of Mountain, and Page. From “Safari Song” to “Flower Power,” Greta Van Fleet took us on a trip back in time, to where the 1970s rock scene was king. I went nuts when they started to perform their hit single, “Highway Tune.” That song is right now in the Top 10 of the Mainstream Rock Charts of Billboard. They even played two new songs that were not on Black Smoke Rising, entitled “Edge of Darkness” and “Talk on the Street.” Both were stupendous tunes. I loved to listen to the bong-rattling bass riffs provided by Sam, while Wagner ripped through an intense drum solo at the end of “Safari Song.” I have a good feeling that Greta Van Fleet is going to save rock ‘n’ roll. The second coming of Led Zeppelin has arrived!

Full Greta Van Fleet slideshow below:

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Closing out the night was Los Angeles own Joyous Wolf. They were considered the opening group who would close out the night. Normally, depending on what, I usually do not stay. However, I have been wanting to see Joyous Wolf for quite some time and I was not going to miss out again. While the room cleared, their fans stuck around as soon as they went into “Mountain Man.” A band that follows the styles of Cream and Soundgarden, I was blown away by the charismatic energy by frontman Nick Reese. He sounds just like Chris Cornell with a mix of Iggy Pop flavor. There was one time where got down to the dance floor, and started to bust out in his best James Brown moves. Damn, he was fun to watch. Their guitarist, Blake Allard, has very old school feel when his fingers seemed to just dance on the strings. To me, he is a mix of Eric Clapton, Kim Thayil, and Andrew Stockdale. Each song has a rockin’ groove that rejuvenates my spirit each time I feel like I’m through for the night. They had an array of badass songs, like “Major Headthrob,” “Turning Blue,” and “Sleep Weep Stomp.” Rounding out the group was the arousing rhythm section of bassist Greg Braccio and drummer Robert Sodaro. Both of these fine musicians ripped through each with infectious beats and licks. Joyous Wolf ended the perfect evening with the booming “Mother Rebel.” Reese is a frontman that heavy metal/hard rock should embrace. I howl for Joyous Wolf.

Full Joyous Wolf slideshow below:

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It was another headbanging pleasure dome inside the Viper Room that night. Matt and I surveyed three tremendous bands, which hold the power in their power to reshape and revitalize rock and bring it back to its glory. I can see Greta Van Fleet open up for some major festivals in the future, especially Download. Thunderpussy gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “girl power.” Joyous Wolf barked at the moon, and what they got back was primetime love from me. As mentioned, it was a sold-out performance, something I have never experienced at this historic venue. All I can say is that the music world is not ready for these acts. Be prepared for the impact they all shall without a doubt bring. They are lean, hungry, and will stop at nothing to win favor with the Metal Gods. To Greta Van Fleet, Thunderpussy, and Joyous Wolf, I salute you. Horns up!!!

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