Somewhere in the early 2000’s, rock got stagnant. After decades of one form of rock making for way for yet another, newer form of rock, everything kind of ground to a halt with up and coming bands sharing one sound and image. While some have proclaimed rock is dead, their overall statement could be made about all forms of popular music since that time. But the tides of rock are changing. For the better. With at least a dozen bands on the rise, they are pushing rock into the now. With a groundswell of emerging artists offering the first signs of legitimacy in almost a decade.
One of those bands is Orange County’s Them Evils. A power trio leaning heavy on the tricks of the past, with a sound all their own. Touring in support of their latest EP Rollin’ Stoned and Livin’ Free, Them Evils made a stop at St. Paul’s iconic time warp venue Turf Club. A rare holdout of the gentrification of St. Paul’s Midway, Turf Club has managed to fend off the advances of CVS, Chipotle and any other chain establishment head hunting for valuable retail space along University Ave. I can proudly say, I have spent too many paychecks drinking and checking out bands here. Even played here once. It’s always a pleasure seeing a band I love in a venue that means so much to me.
Opening with “Untold”, a song in the vein of your standard stoner rock/fuzz rock. Being their first single it’s brought a lot of their fan base in, but in hindsight was more of a first step than a sign of things to come. Great song and they kill it live. Hearing newer songs “She’s Got Nothin” and “Got Me Rockin'” paint a better picture of who they’ve become. I rarely like covers from a national act, but my first time seeing these guys live they destroyed me with a cover of the Motorhead classic “Ace of Spades”. So I wasn’t surprised when they played a surprisingly fun cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds”.
Guitarist/singer, Jordan Griffen is a breath of fresh air as both. He has a vocal sound somewhere between Vince Neil circa 1983, Bon Scott and Aldo Nova (how’s that for reference?). However, the reality is that, in enough time, he will be a voice we compare other people to. Bassist Jake Massanari almost comes off like two people to me. Off stage he is ever smiling. Hair in a bun and possibly the kindest person I’ve met. Once the hair comes down and he hits the stage, he becomes a rock n roll animal. And like everyone in this band, he has more chops than a Food Network reality show. Drummer Dave Delaney just looks and sounds like the drummer for Them Evils, if that makes any sense. Plus, he has a huggable quality to him.
They closed the show with the new song “Have One On Me”, during which Jake did a bit of a bar walk to make sure that at least one bar glass was broken before they left Minnesota. One complaint; their set was so short. 35 minutes maybe. I felt my ass was only about half kicked when it was over. They were just getting warmed up. The crowd was just getting warmed up. I was just getting warmed up. When I see a band this tight and this rocking, I want more. Maybe next time.
It warms my nether regions when I see a band on this level doing a national headlining club/bar tour, offering real music delivered by real musicians. Real people. Rock needs this generation to push it forward. This is their time and Them Evils are among the core of young rock bands that could be the saviors rock n roll needs. What they and other bands are doing right now matters. Music matters. We should demand better. When we do, we get more bands like Them Evils and fewer commercials about headphones. Fewer music competition reality shows. Good for all. Bad for none.
This tour is winding down, but that only means another one is winding up soon. If you like hard rock and metal that’s heavy on riff, hook and melody, do yourself a favor and check out Them Evils. Even if it’s a 40 minute show, you aren’t going to feel ripped off. If you do make it out to a show, take a moment to say hello and let me know how that went. And if you’d like to hear more about my favorite band this week, check out my interview with singer Jordan Griffin. But if you can’t make it to a show, let me quote Jordan and say this. Buy, download, stream, whatever. Just listen.