TVD Live Shots:
Rival Sons with
The Record Company
and Starcrawler at
the Fillmore Silver Spring, 5/30

In December 2012, Rolling Stone ran an interview with Jimmy Page. Being a lifelong Led Zeppelin fan, and knowing that Page rarely gave interviews, I read it with excited interest. The article noted that Page kept up with current music; he mentioned that one of the bands he’d been listening to was Rival Sons.

Figuring Pagey was on to something, I immediately sought out the band’s music. Blown away by the loud, bold, rock and roll, Pressure and Time, Rival Sons’ 2011 album, entered my regular rotation. During the late summer of 2013, I traveled to Whitesburg, Kentucky to see the band for the first time; they played Summit City Lounge in the tiny Appalachian town as a nod to the local rabid fanbase. I made friends that night I have to this day.

Ten years later, I finally got to cover Rival Sons when they made a stop at the Fillmore Silver Spring on the Darkfighter tour last Tuesday night. The Record Company and Starcrawler provided support. The Fillmore shook with the sounds of true dirty rock and roll.

Starcrawler got the night started. From Los Angeles, Starcrawler (lead singer Arrow de Wilde, guitarist Henri Cash, bassist Tim Franco, and drummer Seth Carolina, pedal steel/guitar player Bill Cash) has already amassed a fanbase of big names, including Iggy Pop and Elton John. These musicians are young, charismatic, and play raw glam rock.

Vocalist de Wilde is an imposing figure on stage—embodying some of the most memorable lead singers from rock music’s history. A little Mick Jagger here, a dash of Patti Smith there. She taunted the still assembling crowd, yelling for them to “turn up their hearing aids.” In less capable hands it could come off as pretentious, but Starcrawler offers true authenticity in their performance.

At the end of their 30-minute set, de Wilde hopped off stage, high fived everyone in at the rail, and then made her exit. Henri Cash then hopped off the stage, handed his three-string guitar to a fan in the front, and exited through the audience. The fan strummed the guitar until the remaining band members wrapped things up, handing the instrument back to a patiently waiting tech. Quite a show for a Tuesday evening.

Next up, The Record Company. The Grammy-nominated trio (Chris Vos, Alex Stiff, and Marc Cazorla) got the weeknight crowd excited with some old school rock and roll. Formed in 2011, the band’s sound is heavily influenced by the blues masters, and they wear those influences well. The Record Company has been lauded by critics and have opened for the likes of Grace Potter, BB King, and Buddy Guy. Late in the 45-minute set, Vos told the crowd of his disdain for paid VIP “meet and greets” and invited the whole venue to come have a chat at the merch stand. Later the whole band marched by me, single file, off to meet fans out front.

Finally, the main event. Rival Sons (Jay Buchanan, Scott Holiday, Dave Beste, and Michael Miley) formed in California back in 2009; the band released their first album, Before the Fire, that year. Their powerful, charismatic rock and roll was met with critical and popular acclaim; both have followed the band ever since. In 2012, the band was named “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” by Classic Rock Magazine and two Grammy nominations followed in 2019.

Their seventh and latest album, Darkfighter, is hot off the press, having been released on June 2. The set kicked off with “Mirrors” and featured a total of six songs from the new album. The set ran almost two hours and included other standouts from the Rival Sons discography—“Feral Roots,” “Too Bad,” and my old favorites “Pressure and Time” and “Electric Man.”

It is worth noting that many people in the audience already seemed to know the words to the new songs, but the crowd remained mesmerized all night. Rival Sons are known for their extremely devoted fan base, so it is no surprise that the new material has already been devoured. The band expects to release a companion album, Lightbringer, later this year.

When we left the photo pit, a colleague and I looked at each other and said, “Wow, now THAT’S a headliner.” Being able witness musicians like Rival Sons, who aren’t just “rock stars” but have the entire rock and roll package—the skill, on-stage grativas, as well as the gorgeous music—is a truly special experience.

The Darkfighter North American tour will wrap up on June 18 in Denver.



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