When you walk into a small and intimate venue, like The Studio at Webster Hall, you can feel the excitement and energy emanating from the crowd. What you don’t normally feel is anticipation from the bouncers and staff at a club. But, on this dark and stormy night, as soon as I entered the Studio, I was met by a lady at security who would hardly contain her excitement at these “young brothers who rock” (aka Radkey). And man, was she ever right, because it was a night of brothers who rock, with The Fame Riot taking the club into a glam-filled danceable territory before Radkey propelled the night into powerful rollicking guitar riffs.
From the moment the colorful Fame Riot, fronted by brothers who go by the stage names Liz Scarlett and Shazam Watkins, stepped on stage clad in tight outfits containing southwestern prints, leopard spots, and shiny shiny stones, you knew that getting the crowd dancing would be their first order of business. And from the first poppy keys and squelching guitars the crowd was bopping along.
This is a band steeped in the history of T-Rex and Bowie, putting their glitter and dance filled rhythms first. There are plenty of moments of humor as well, as Scarlett and Watkins dabble in faux-British accents as they joked with the crowd all night long. And the music brings a happy beat along for the ride. Scarlett even headed into the crowd twice that night. Each time seemingly coming back ever more supercharged from getting even closer to their adoring fans.
The two brothers, raised by a minister in Seattle, like to say that The Fame Riot is a religion, not a band – and judging by their showmanship, they’re well on their way to having a large congregation at their future pop and punk-infused sermons.
Next up was the trio of Radke brothers straight out the Midwest: Radkey. These hard rocking youths have already drawn comparisons to the now rediscovered punk pioneers out Detroit called “Death.” But to me that’s more of a superficial comparison. The Misfits are the band they clearly have taken their cues from. They rejoice in the irreverence of singing about the superheroes that clearly love (Just look at bassist Isaiah Radke’s Superman tee and Spider-man and Batman buttons adorning his cut off denim jacket turned vest – or their song Marvel or their cover of the theme from the cartoon Teen Titans) and lead singer/guitarist Dee Radke’s vocals, which could be a dead-on impression of a young Glenn Danzig.
These three are young, but the confidence they manifest on stage is of a far more seasoned band. They were touring in support of their new release, Delicious Rock Noise (one of my picks for my favorite album of 2016). The three of them each have a distinct stage persona. Dee’s the intense front-man, never taking off his shades while projecting a dead-serious aura. Isaiah, is full of infectious joy while drummer Solomon has an almost shy presence about him, especially when he’s choking up on his drum sticks.
The whole set that night was one furious ball of energy. Isaiah was jumping all around, throwing balloons, into the crowd, cutting his forehead open while down on the metal stage to Dee perfecting some classic rock power poses. This is straightforward power punk-pop pushed to its limits by three young men enjoying every minute they’re on stage. There might be simplicity in their lyrics, but that’s ok, because if they’re this good at this age, it makes you want to see what they come up with as life throws obstacles their way in the future. And you can bet they’ll have many more moshing fans slamming around in front them then.
Article: Omar Kasrawi