Live: Band of Skulls/SACCO
WAREHOUSE LIVE — 5/13/14: Back in the spring, I was pretty swamped, but I made a concerted effort to get out and see some very good shows, like this one, where Band of Skulls and opener SACCO made a great to of it up at Warehouse Live.
I have a good friend named Sacco — Chris Sacco, from the Houston band dUNE.TX, to be specific — so when I first saw the name of the opening band, I wondered if he had started a side project. A Chris Sacco side project would have fit right in with Band Of Skulls. Alas, no, this was a New York-based indie-pop-rock three-piece band called SACCO.
I wasn’t familiar enough with their music to immediately get excited about their music, but they had some great interplay between the band members and played as a tight unit; musical references for me included Dinosaur Jr. and, to a lesser extent, a more subdued Secret Machines. Most of their music stuck to the indie-rock formula and chord progressions — that was my only complaint.
There weren’t enough songwriting wrenches thrown into their songs, not enough moments that made you stop what you were doing and take note. Well, until the last song. They saved their best for last. I don’t know what the name of that song was, but if they release a 7″ single of it, I will buy it for certain.
Band of Skulls, a British power trio consisting of Russell Marsden (guitar, vocals), Emma Richardson (bass, vocals), and Matt Hayward (drums) were in the middle of a tour supporting their new (and third) album, Himalayan. They played SXSW this year and claimed the title of “the band I most wanted to see but missed.” I knew I’d have this chance to see them at Warehouse Live, at a full show rather than a 40-minute festival set, so back in March I ultimately decided to stick to discovering new bands rather than trying to see bigger bands I already knew.
The wait gave me time to familiarize myself with their new album, as well as stoke the fires of anticipation — so much so that I was a little flustered and nervous as I took photos of the trio. If you’re unfamiliar with Band of Skulls, my condensed wrap-up on their sound goes like this: “As straightforward and no-nonsense as a rock band can be with elements of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, Heart, and just a touch of ’90s Britpop (bands like Ocean Colour Scene and Supergrass aren’t that far down the spectrum).”
Now that Band of Skulls are on their third album, they have the luxury of playing “the hits” rather than needing to play most of their albums to bring a 90-minute set to fruition. And “the hits” means more of the rockers, which is where the band shines brightest. From opening songs “Asleep at the Wheel” and new title track “Himalayan” to crowd favorites like “I Know What I Am” and “Lies”, the band is most enjoyable when they are rocking (though “Cold Sweat” was a nice change of pace).
It’s interesting that they arrived in Houston on the heels of Australian heavy rockers Wolfmother, who’d played the House of Blues the night before, because I tend to think that Band of Skulls pick up where Wolfmother left off. Seeing them back to back became a game of Compare and Contrast. Both bands are rocking trios, but Wolfmother played to their House of Blues jock-rock crowd by leaving it all on the stage, while Band of Skulls held their cards closer to the vest, playing with finesse and precision. At the end of the two nights, I was thankful to have experienced both.
As this show developed, I discovered my favorite new Band of Skulls song, “Torreador”, a song that might naturally be compared to the Spanish side of Muse. Other highlights near the end of the set included “The Devil Takes Care of His Own” and all three encore songs, “Sweet Sour”, “Light of the Morning”, and finale “Death by Diamonds and Pearls”, which sent the Warehouse Live crowd home happy in the springtime rain. END
(Photos [top to bottom]: SACCO; Russell Marsden; Emma Richardson. All photos by Jason Smith.)