|Returning the Favor
One great thing about being a musician is that you get to meet people at your shows. Of course you get to meet the staff at the venues you play and you get to meet the "fans", but one of the better benefits of playing music in the Triad is that you get to meet other musicians.
Way back in the dim dark ages of the late 80's, when I began rocking and rolling in the Triad, it seemed that all the bands in the area were in competition. Bands would trash talk each other to fans and club owners, and there was a very real sense of competitiveness and petty jealousy that ran through the scene. When I took a hiatus from the scene in the late 90's, I remember bands having open hostility and contempt for their "competition".
When I returned to the Triad a few years ago and dipped my Doc Marten clad toes back into the music scene, I was surprised to find that while the dynamic of the club/band relationship had shifted some, the bands themselves were much more supportive than I remembered!
When I would go to see my friends' bands play, it was pretty typical to see members of four or five other bands that had come out to support them. And this wasn't the old "stand at the back of the bar with your arms crossed and make derisive comments" type of "support" that we had back in the late 80's: these bands would sing along, stand down front, and even hop on stage and play guitar, drums, or sing with their friends! My how things have changed!
To that end, when my band, Alexis Machine started playing out a few months ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see the support of quite a few local bands (Magazyne, Faceplant, Jacked Up, Children of Karma, She's Heard Worse, Chain Reaction, to name but a few). One of the most frequently seen faces was Robert "Red" Elliot, whom I knew at the time as the singer for She's Heard Worse. At our last gig, he mentioned he was now singing for another band, in addition to SHW, and I promised him I'd come out to see his new project as soon as I could.
At the time, I had no idea that his "new" band was one I'd seen before: Kry Havok. I'd seen Kry Havok a few times over the past year or so but this past Saturday night (4/7) at Cooper's Ale House in Greensboro, I was treated to the new line up.
In addition to Red on vocals, they had added a new bassist, former Stray Dogma guitarist Mark Grossman. I settled in at Cooper's, ordered a beer and some food, and was treated to a surprise. Now I had previously only seen Red sing in guest spots with Jacked Up. He would generally do a Rage Against the Machine song, and that would be it. He had told me that he was "just a grunge singer" and that Kry Havoc's stuff was all a new style to him, so I wasn't expecting too much; after all the new members had only been with the band a couple of weeks at this point.
That said, Red is a natural front man. With his wireless mic, he prowled through the audience at Cooper's engaging the crowd, while singing in his "new style" well enough that when I turned to my companion, local songstress Suzi Nelson to ask what she thought, she said "He can sing! He's really good!". Not only did I agree, but I take Suzi's word as gospel so nicely done, Red. The band itself was very tight, which again surprised me because I know that they've only been playing with Red and Mark Grossman for 3-4 weeks. The guitar work by Jimmy Nolen was taut and soulful (and I love his Soldano amp's tone), and the percussion by Kevin Lynch was right on time. Most surprising was Mark's bass playing, mostly because I've only seen him as a guitarist previously, and most guitarists who pick up bass seem to be missing a certain "it" factor in their playing. Not Mark. His playing was solid, funky, and over all, impressive.
The song selection for Kry Havok was also quite different that I expected. They covered material from pop and funk to new country. Prince, 7 Mary Three, Jason Aldean...they were all represented.
Sure, there's some cover band chestnuts in there like "Gimme Three Steps", "Stone In Love", and "Play That Funky Music", but there were also several surprises in there too. A rocking cover of Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" was a highlight, and a male singer doing Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" totally caught me off guard! The band had the crowd energized, and there were people actually up dancing at a couple points (and at a sports bar with no real dance floor, this isn't too shabby!)
All in all, I was glad I was able to return the favor of support to Red and the boys in Kry Havok. If you get the chance, go check out the Sophia, NC rockers, and as always, KEEP THE SCENE ALIVE! SUPPORT LIVE LOCAL MUSIC! .
Contributing writer Brian John Meyer: Originally hailing from Baltimore, Brian has been active in the Triad Music scene since the late 80's/early 90's as a singer and songwriter with such bands as Street Legal, Stray Dogma, and the seminal Society's Child, to name a few. In addition to writing, he currently fronts the Greensboro based band Alexis Machine, recently reformed after a nearly 20 year hiatus and strives to actively support and promote the Triad music scene.