Venue: Terminal 5 (New York, NY)
Opener: Crobot, Valkyrie
Label: Weathermaker Records
The cooler temperatures had finally begun to show their face in our neck of the woods and 2015 was getting closer to ending and for many it couldn’t come fast enough. I was very excited for the promise of a shiny New Year and all its concerts, good times and special musical memories. It was great that Clutch had decided to perform here in NYC as they had usually set their sights on NJ with Starland Ballroom for these end of year shows but in all honesty that venue doesn’t fit as many people as this place does. I decided to start my evening’s adventure at the American Retro Bar & Grill which is located on 51st street and 11th Avenue. It’s a short walk back to the venue and a good place to pre-game before shows here and at Stage 48 if you needed a suggestion. In the past I’ve found members of Dark Tranquility stopping in here to eat and even an out of costume Papa Emeritus II according to friends who saw a mysterious figure look inside while I wasn’t paying attention. Tonight amused me at the space for while I dined I wondered the set times and in walked Crobot for some supper. Clearly I had a little time before their set and they suggested that I give the lead band Valkyrie a chance. This was of course part of my night’s plan.
Valkyrie: With Valkyrie I had not even heard their name before tonight which is a shame but does happen sometimes with so many bands out in the mix on tours. They’re signed to Relapse Records and their most recent album is called “Shadows”. They deliver a solid “Riff Rock” sort of presentation and I made sure to get in their just in time for their set because the chance to enjoy something new is always of high interest to me. Fortunately for Valkyrie, the place was already packed with fans who wanted their best possible spot for Clutch and that meant they would get some attention with this gig. I liked seeing this because there are too many times when we find the fans bypassing 2 or 3 bands that lead into a show and only get there for the headliner. This happened with last summer’s Mayhem Fest as I mentioned in another article. The band is a four piece and they handle the stage with some skill. Lead singer Jake Adams seems personable enough to me as I observed their very short set. My plan is to set my sights on a future appearance and a hopefully longer set. That and to also get a more proper listen to this recent body of work. It sounded good live I will tell you that much and if you’ve come to trust the views I have for this stuff after many thousands of reviews, you can trust me there. Now it was time for Crobot to arrive and I hope that they enjoyed Retro when I met them a few short hours ago.
Crobot: When it comes to Crobot, 2015 was a VERY interesting year for me because despite trying to get to see them over the last couple of years at one show or another, I ended up never firming up the details and being a part of their show. This made them one of those Rock and Roll mysteries to me because I wanted to know more but just didn’t. This troubled me since so many of my friends were speaking highly of the group and when this is coming from folks you trust around you in the scene you really feel out of the loop. That being said – tonight’s gig would make the fourth time that I was seeing them during 2015 alone. Yeah they opened up for a few high profile events as the year headed to its fourth quarter and I caught them all. It amused me greatly and I happily caught each set not feeling the sense of “been there done that”. The band is signed to Wind-Up Records and their latest album is the 2014 release “Something Supernatural” which I have now heard a bit of thanks to these shows since the summer months. Fronted by singer Brandon Yeagley, one of the things I enjoy the most about Crobot with my three gig expertise is how they are a band that is meant to be seen live. There is a lot of movement up on the stage from singer Brandon and also from bassist Jake Figeuroa. As a group they lock into the groove almost immediately and it’s as if the members are mentally connected during a set. Brandon’s vocals are excellent and his stage presence is not unlike the legends that came before him. If you are looking at bands like The Sword and Wolfmother and liking that vibe, then please add Crobot to your music library and catch a show. They seem to be a band that tours a lot so you should have many chances to do this. Their set was a smoking one but now it was time for the main event – Clutch in NYC.
Clutch: Not only was this going to be my last concert for the musical year of 2015, it was also going to be the third time that I had seen Clutch over the course of about eight months. This amused me because I had not seen them for many years until they did that Central Park Summerstage show back in May. Then they appeared at that massive Food Truck and Rock Carnival at the end of the summer and now here we were. I wasn’t complaining about this at all since the band is rock solid live and their fans are so diehard about them that they make it an even more interesting experience. So their new album is entitled “Psychic Warfare” and I was coming into the show blind having heard no more than a single track. This was not done on purpose I just still needed to sit down with the release which is somewhere in my download queue. This oversight was not going to get in the way of my rocking.
They would open up with “The House That Peterbuilt” and followed it with “The Mob Goes Wild” which was almost a perfect choice considering this mob was surely going wild and many of them were crowd surfing themselves into the waiting arms of the security staff. I’m not too sure I like this practice anymore since I have seen some younger fans in the front get hurt or got glasses and such broken by the surfer who might be just a little too big for this sort of activity. Perhaps I’m maturing or perhaps not. Anyway, the band was on fire and just grooving effortlessly through tune after tune. I didn’t feel lost at all at my lapse in study of their body of work at all and was captivated by the frenetic performance being given by lead singer Neal Fallon. If you have never seen this band live let me tell you he is something else up there. He is a figure of constant motion and that sometimes makes him a difficult lock for the photographers. He performs with an intensity as well and it seems that every word of ever verse in every song has deep meaning to him. One thing I enjoy most about Fallon on the stage is that you feel as though he is directing the performance right at you personally. You’d probably need to see them yourself to understand me but yeah. “Burning Beard” has remained one of my favorites from the bands catalog and this one hails from the now decade old “Robot Hive/Exodus”. So much of the Clutch material strikes me as poignant social commentary. Tim Sult was delivering some righteous riffs on his guitar while Dan Maines and John Paul Glaser locked the rhythm section into an enviable space.
The band got to “Noble Savage” and dedicated the tune to the great Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead who had sadly passed away only the day before this show. It was not a great way to end the year for many rockers as we all felt that Lemmy would outlive us all based on his tenacity. It’s a loss that was still ringing strong as it had only just happened and between band sets I did hear a lot of Motorhead chatter and noticed a healthy amount of their band t-shirts on the assembled crowd. A truly nice way to show some respect to the fallen Heavy Metal/Hard Rock icon.
By the time the whole night was over, I had been rocked out to the core and spent the final bunch of songs with friends at the back bar of the venue as it seemed that this was the only place where some air was moving through. The packed Terminal 5 was an inferno by the time that Clutch got to the middle of their set and I could only imagine how it was down there now in the center as we hit the strains of “Son Of Virginia” and headed towards the closing tunes. Despite the heat the energy level remained at an all-time high and when it all came down to it the band delivered a whopping six tunes from the brand new “Psychic Warfare” album out of the eighteen performed. So a third of the set was devoted to it but based on the response that I was witnessing this was not a problem in the fans eyes. As “Earth Rocker” finished us off for the evening I downed that last beer and said my goodbyes and early “Happy New Year” to my friends. A fantastic night of full on Rock that will be talked about for quite some time.
Goodbye 2015, you were a son of a bitch for sure on a number of occasions but you also offered up some special times. I look forward to what promise 2016 will bring and I hope that its something special for all of our readers and their families.
1. The House That Peterbilt
2. The Mob Goes Wild
3. X-Ray Visions
5. Crucial Velocity
6. Burning Beard
7. Noble Savage (dedicated to Lemmy)
8. A Quick Death in Texas
9. Doom Saloon
10. Our Lady of Electric Light
11. Cypress Grove
12. Unto the Breach
13. Sucker for the Witch
14. The Soapmakers
15. Son of Virginia
16. Gravel Road
17. D.C. Sound Attack!
18. Earth Rocker