By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy, Photos by Matt “Rabit” Martinez Red Hare Images
When it was raining on the evening of March 10th, I was disappointed because I was slated to see Fozzy, at the Whisky. However, it was coming down pretty hard that night, and considering what the 5 freeway is like, I did not feel like taking that chance. Then, when I heard about stoner/hard rock band Royal Thunder stopping by Los Angeles, Matt and I were definitely interested in going. When I first listened to their latest effort, Wick, I was hooked by stoner riffs, sizzling guitar licks, and the grungy/bluesy singing. Of course, as luck would have it, it started to rain the day of their show at the Union. Only this time, we were not going to let the rain stop us from seeing a ballsy rock show. With Pinkish Black and Glaare tagging along, time to ride high with Royal Thunder.
When we arrived at the Union, Glaare had already taken the floor. It was interesting to see how small the stage was, big enough only for the drummer, and the rest were on the dance floor. That did not seem to bother any of the groups, especially Glaare. They are a post punk group who are influenced by both dream pop and dark wave. Vocalist Rachel has an ominous style when her voice hits the microphone. Add in the ultra heavy guitar work of Cameron and pulsating beats of bassist/keyboardist Rex, a transcendent buzz floats in the air with a punk edge. Their drummer, Brandon, adds some juice rock flavor. The songs that were performed, which include “For Sale,” “Isky,” and “Suffer,” did the trick of pulling in the audience to see what makes the band special. What really drove it home, for me personally was the closing number, “Ruins.” It reminded me a lot of the techno stuff I hear in dance clubs; I just got lost in its ambiance, and in Rachel’s haunting voice. That is hard to do in my case, but Glaare dug into my subconscious and played with it. Not bad.
Full Glaare slide show below:
Pinkish Black is a very unusual name for a band, but there are plenty of bands with weird-ass names that achieve success. This duo, originating from Fort Worth, Texas, has the ability to combine gothic rock with electronica, drone, and psychedelic rock. Vocalist/synthesizer Daron Beck is very talented; playing different keyboards, to give it the effect of a full band, creating a magnum opus of experimental music. He is like the Ray Manzarek of the gothic keyboard world. His partner in crime, drummer Jon Teague, is a hammering machine; slamming down blast beats that give the songs a doom metal like effect. While listening to their stuff, from “Concept Unification” to “Until” and “Petit Mal,” I imagined myself in the Matrix or futuristic club getting my groove on. All the songs they performed are being featured on their upcoming record; no title as of right now. They finished the set with their longest number, “Next Solution.” I feel that Pinkish Black fits more in club setting than a rock concert, but I was into them. I feel like exploring further down the line.
Full Pinkish Black slide show below:
Royal Thunder, The quartet from Atlanta, Geor., hit the floor, ready to knock the wet socks off the fans. They started things off with “No Good,” and I was immediately swept off my feet by Mlny Parsonz’ passionate voice and intense bass playing. When her voice echoed in the room, it had a raw, raspy, dirty texture to it, kind of like Janis Joplin. Parsonz plays her instrument like a beast, quick and precise. I also loved watching her cock her head at times when she sang; it gave her an edgy attitude look. Josh Weaver was sizzling on the axe; simply blazing out solo after solo, particularly on “April Shower.” Rhythm guitar player Will Fiore was a menace on the riffs. He played with such passion and smoothness. Their drummer on this tour, Kent Aberle, just joined them one week ago, and he already has these songs down cold. He is an excellent drummer and meshes with their style very well.
They had an array of songs that bring hard rock on the path of glory. With each new song, they did not waste any time chatting with the fans; they got down straight to business. Since Parsonz, Fiore, and Weaver were on the floor, the fans circled around them. While one would think that they would be crowding the band, I feel it gave them more energy. Every song they chose to play packed a punch, from “Anchor” to “Mouth of Fire,” “Whispering World,” “Low,” and “Sleeping Witch.” They went into overdrive once “Glow” kicked them into high gear. The intensity, enthusiasm, and drive in that song made me swing my feet back and forth in a dancing motion. Even Aberle hammered on the big gong behind him. I do not believe I have ever seen a gong at a rock show before. That is a retro move in my eyes; made me believe I was in the 1970s. Parsonz decided to serenade the crowd with one more song, “Plans,” with only Fiore on the guitar. Her voice was on fire; the flames inside refused to go out. I was like, “Goddamn!” That is the way to end a performance.
Full Royal Thunder slide show below:
Despite it being a wet evening, the heat coming from the music we all heard warmed us back up. Royal Thunder was everything I thought they would be, and more. If there was another hard rock band that could march the path of rock ‘n’ roll success, it would be these guys. Pinkish Black electrified their gothic sound, while Glaare was like a dream woven into a punk perspective. The Union is a very unique venue; one that I hope will continue to bring rock acts. This is a stellar event; generated by stellar bands. To Royal Thunder, Pinkish Black, and Glaare, I salute you. Horns up!!!