TVD Live Shots: Big Wreck at The Crocodile, 10/24

SEATTLE, WA | There’s something extraordinary about the band Big Wreck. They’re one of the few rock bands on the planet that has managed to create a unique sound that is all their own. I’m still struggling to describe exactly what that sound is, but when I hear it, I know immediately.

If I had a gun to my head, I guess I would say it’s riff-heavy hard rock layered with deep blues, massive grooves, and soaring vocals. There’s no denying that frontman Ian Thornley sounds a bit like Chris Cornell in his prime, but there’s much more than that. Hell, this is the guy who turned down vocal duties for Velvet Revolver because he didn’t feel comfortable singing without playing guitar. This begs the question, what does he do better? The answer isn’t very straightforward.

You see, Ian Thornley is the kind of songwriter that other songwriters aspire to be. He’s the whole package: a unique and incredible voice, guitar god, and most importantly, he can write a fucking song that makes you stop and think how one human being could possibly be able to write such majestic choruses.

Take, for example, their breakthrough “hit” if you will from 1996 “The Oaf.” Of course, it’s got a catchy intro and verse, but when the chorus kicks in, it’s what separates Big Wreck from the rest of the pack. Then take a listen to “That Song” from the same record. Holy shit, this one takes it up another notch by adding storytelling and incredibly smart lyrics. (My friends and I in college spent weeks debating what the fuck a “pocketbook Brando” is.) Furthermore, “That Song” is a story told in song that makes you feel something, it transports you to a specific moment in your life—it’s familiar—yet it’s something that doesn’t happen very often in a modern song.

But I’m saving the best for last here. They wrote a song called “Wolves” from their 2012 masterpiece Albatross. I would rank this song among the top five best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. It’s the evolution of “That Song” as they manage to take their unique feel and storytelling to a new level. When I heard this song in the set last week in Seattle, it reminded me why I go to see live music, why I look to music to get me through tough times, but most importantly it makes me happy that a band that could be taking over the world is instead on a club tour of the States and are still making records. And brilliant records at that.

The band’s catalogue has zero blemishes. One might question Grace Street and the lead single “One Good Piece of Me,” but that one will grow on you over time. 2019 would see them answer back to fans with arguably their strongest record in ten years …but for the sun. The first single “Locomotive” is sort of a return to form, but again it’s the evolution of the band. It’s also got one of the heaviest fucking riffs I’ve ever heard in my life with yet another epic soaring Big Wreck signature chorus sandwiched in between. And holy hell did this song deliver live. It was crushing, to say the least.

This was supposed to be a live review of Big Wreck at the beloved Crocodile in Seattle, but that would have been too easy. The band’s performance was the best I’ve ever heard, and it’s the first tour without the incredibly talented Brian Doherty, who left us too soon after a battle with cancer. Chris Caddell steps into some massive shoes and does so respectfully while adding another layer to the sound that I imagine would suffer as a trio.

Either way, I’ve been thinking about this show and listening to the new record as well as the catalogue all week. I thought it would be better to share a perspective on one of the best rock bands on the planet in the hope that this brings in some new fans. I’ve already had several friends among my travels back to the UK adding them to their Spotify playlists—now, we just need to get them a gig in London because I need to see this show again (and I hate flying back to the States).

Get the new record, put on the song “Locomotive,” turn it up very loud, and prepare to discover your new favorite band—that’s been around for twenty-five years.

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