I haven’t seen many shows lately. I haven’t reviewed a show in years. When Marcus asked me if I could cover one for him, since he had to work, I figured “why the hell not?”. He messages me back saying, “Cool, thanks. It’s Theory of a Deadman.” Well played, sir.
To say I’m not much of a Theory fan would be an understatement. I spent most of my teenage and adult life with them on that list of bands that got immediately skipped, changed the channel on, or gouged out my ears with a toothpick to. Luckily for me, (and perhaps Marcus), I’m able to remain pretty objective.
I pulled up to the House of Blues, anticipating a night of eye-rolling, snide remarks that only I could hear, and the occasional thought of “Am I really here right now?”. My anticipations went right out the window pretty quickly.
Spirit Animal took the stage first, the lone opening act. A cross between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Twenty-one Pilots, they warmed the crowd up a bit. They weren’t a bad band, but I was expecting a little more presence from a band opening for a major headliner like Theory.
Theory took the stage, and I took my spot at the back of the stairs, where I had a good view of the whole room without having to deal with much traffic. When they took the stage, my perceptions were immediately shaken, not stirred. They came out to an opening track and just started playing, and my attention was immediately front and center.
Tyler commanded the stage well. He sang well. He played guitar on a majority of the songs, also very well. The stage show was impressive, to say the least. Lights, video screens, and a ticker showing lyrics and the occasional onomatopoeia along the drum riser. They didn’t stop, and they didn’t waste a note of energy the whole night. As the set went on, the energy swelled, the crowd grew louder, and the songs became more interesting. He wasn’t singing to us, he was singing with us. Tyler fed on the energy the crowd was giving him, and dealt it back twofold.
Then there was a drum solo. What? Ok, I was NOT expecting that. Before I go on, I also want to point out that from front to back, the drums, and the entire mix of the band was one of the best live mixes I’ve ever heard. Nothing was too loud, and no one was fighting for presence. Anyway, the drum solo. Joey launches into a drum solo with really solid groove, and a whole lotta fun. It was then that it hit me: I was witnessing a good old-fashioned rock and roll show. Little to no tracks were used all night, just 4 guys, their instruments, and a lot of energy and emotion. There was no fluff, and no bullshit.
After the drum solo, the show slowed down a little. Not in a bad way, just, in the ways that shows do. That ebb and flow of power and emotion. Some softer songs with deeper meaning. They picked it back up towards the end before heading offstage for the obligatory crowd-sparked encore. They came back on to play two more songs. They closed the night with “Bad Girlfriend”, which snapped me back to reality as I remembered which band I was watching. Time to go!
I kid. While I can’t say the experience made a “fan” of me, I don’t think I’ll be so quick to turn them off in the future, if for nothing else than to bring me back for a few minutes, because I’ll tell you, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a band just come out, play their hearts out without a mile-long trail of shtick and bullshit, and get a crowed that pumped up in the process. It was refreshing, and if you have the chance to see them on this tour, I would recommend taking the night to see them.
Review by Jon Mills, Photos by Josh Housley