Back in the early years of high school I listened to what my parents or friends were enjoying, never really having a band I could call “my own.” Then I stumbled upon Living Colour and immediately knew they were the band for me and proceeded to wear out their cassettes for a few years. I was initially drawn to the sizzling guitar work of Vernon Reid, which at that time had a completely different sound and urgency to the sugary rock that the late 80’s produced. The longer I listened, I realized these guys had something to say, and it was important that I listen. Keen on history and justice, Living Colour asked that we pay attention, that a killer rock song could be about racial inequality instead of the “getting high on cocaine – at the strip club tunes,” that the hard rock genre had fallen into.
I was able to witness their live show in a tiny club in Boston, and as a pimple nosed teen, was blown away at how tight their gig was. Then came grunge – I turned to the dark side and got into heavier and more somber music that took over my preferences. Fast forward 20 some odd years and hundreds of shows later – Living Colour is better than ever, as their set on Valentine’s Day at Brooklyn Bowl proved clear.
This night just wasn’t about middle-aged guys rocking out in their home town, it also featured some of the best young acts in NYC today including indie-rockers The Freaky Baby Daddies and the teen metal trio, Unlocking The Truth.
The Freaky Baby Daddies played a solid 30 minute set riddled with distorted guitars and a fantastic stylistic range that touched on reggae, rap, and funk. Many songs were tribal in nature and their painted faces supports that vision. I’ll be keeping my eye on these young dudes, they have a lot to offer.
Unlocking The Truth, who was in the middle slot; is a teen metal band comprised of three very young men from Brooklyn, all in their early teens. Their sound had more depth than your typical “Metal” band and heard punk and alternative influences in the framework of most of their songs. They had an eerie confidence about them and for good reason, having opened for the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Queens Of The Stone Age and of course – Living Colour. Their 45 minute set was received well by the mostly full venue, and was a perfect lead up to the main event.
Living Colour – What can I say about them that hasn’t been said before?! All the superlatives are all true, they are; tight, energetic, fun, engaging and a total experience. The two hour long, time-restricted set had all the hits and gave us a preview of what’s to come in the spring with their newest album “Shade.”
The diversity that the home-town guys brought was ridiculous as they covered most ever rock sub-genre that you could imagine including funk, blues, garage, metal, punk, hip-hop, and reggae. Highlights of the night were the rousing version of “Solace Of You,” with legendary trumpet blower Wallace Rooney and the unforgettable jam for “Sunshine of Your Love” to end the show with Alex Skolnick (Testament), and 11 year old guitar-prodigy, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer. The most surreal moment was during the 9 minute-long Doug Wimbish bass-solo, that may be the most beautiful and melodic thing I have heard in a long time which you can watch below.
Article by: Shayne Hanley