Charm City Devils bring hard rock swagger to Summit Music Hall
Posted on August 20, 2012
If you listen to rock radio chances are you’ve heard “Man Of Constant Sorrow” by Charm City Devils. While Man Of Constant Sorrow may be almost one hundred years old it has had new life breathed into it twice; the first time being in the movie O Brother Where Art Thou and more recently by Charm City Devils on their new album “Sins”. Charm City Devils did wonders with this old tune and managed to make it fresh and new, keeping with the melody and lyrics of the original tune yet beefing it up and rocking it out to make it catchy and acceptable by modern music listeners. But this is not the only good song they have. On the contrary Charm City Devils have many good songs and I have been a fan of theirs since “Let’s Rock N’ Roll” came out.
Charm City Devils came through Colorado a while back and played at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, but I missed that show and was kind of bummed about
it so you can imagine how fast I jumped at the chance to see them play at Summit Music Hall (Which is one of my favorite venues downtown). Not only was I going to get the chance to rock out to some live Charm City Devils, but John agreed to an interview as well, but you’ll just have to watch the video to find out what we talked about during the interview.
The night started out with Extreme Turbo Smash on stage. You want a band that gets people riled; this is the band for you. They are disturbing, entertaining and funny all at the same time. I don’t know if the singing panda bear actually sings real words or just yells and grunts into the microphone but it’s hard to take your eyes off him. The rest of the band can play their music fairly decent…..not great, but decent. But how well they play is not the reason to see these guys. Seeing Extreme Turbo Smash on stage is paramount to watching a car accident happening right in front of you…..you don’t know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to end but you just can’t help but watch. Oh yeah and then there’s the school supplies…
No 1 Left Standing is Denver’s two time “Best Band In Denver” champ and there is a reason for that. Their energy and edginess is infectious and the anger heard in some of their songs kind of gives you a righteous feeling, like you should be standing up against the man. Rock/rap has been done to death in the past but N1LS has a harder, edgier vibe than other bands of the same ilk. Their live show is where they really shine and they were the perfect choice to go on after Extreme Turbo Smash because if anyone could keep the crowd pumped and revved before THC and Charm City Devils went on it was these Denver boys.
Sometimes…..not often……but sometimes I am completely taken by surprise. Blindsided if you will, by certain bands that completely shatter my fragile little idea of where the genre lines should be drawn.
Texas Hippie Coalition, or THC for short, is a band that lays claim to its own little sub-genre of metal. Red dirt metal? What the hell is that? Well, actually it’s a great description! I’ve heard country artists singing about dirt back roads and red dirt roads and I’ve always assumed that they were singing about back country roads. Take that back country road mentality and put it to metal. It’s as simple as that. THC is good ole boy metal…. Buzz saw guitars, driving bass and rock n’ roll lyrics with a southern flair, Pantera style.
I had heard “Turn It Up” on the radio and I really like that song, but I had never heard anything else from THC. I figured maybe the rest of their stuff isn’t good enough to be on the radio. Boy was I wrong.
THC got up on the stage at Summit Music Hall and kicked the whole show into high gear.
Texas Hippie Coalition is formidable on stage both in their willingness to try and blow your eardrums out and in their looks. Vocalist Big Dad Rich is a big man and an imposing figure in his biker duds complete with THC leather vest, shades and cowboy hat. When you think biker chances are a likeness of this man will come to mind. And the rest of the band follow suit in the biker look.
Tattooed and leathered out with long hair and big beards, these guys had the crowd rockin’ with their own brand of metal. They played a few tunes that, up to that point, I hadn’t heard. The music was catchy; with that southern rock feel but still very metal. After a few songs they got around to playing “Turn It Up”. You could tell by the crowd that just about everybody recognized this song as they cheered and sang throughout the entire tune. Between almost every song Big Dad Rich kept telling the crowd how cool it was to be in Denver with such bad ass people, a bad ass radio station like KBPI and bad ass local music. In fact, he mused, “This must be where bad asses come from!” Of course this provoked a huge cheer from the crowd. And so it went for the rest of their set. One rousing, rocking, headbangin’ song after another kept the crowd focused on Big Dad till the end when Bid Dad and company lined up at the front of the stage. THC faced the crowd as Big Dad drawled out, “We stole this one from Motley Crue”, they then joined arm around shoulder and bowed to the crowd and said good night.
The highlight for me, and many others it seems, was when Charm City Devils finally took the stage. I like Charm City Devils plain and simple. And I was excited as hell to finally catch them playing live…at a mid-size venue, in Denver.
Charm City Devils have an almost classic rock sound that speaks of carefree days gone by, when choruses were big, the rhythms catchy and every song spoke to you on some level. Now, there is just not enough of that kind of music around. It seems Charm City Devils belongs to an elite yet ever shrinking group of bands that want you to have a good time…..no, a great time that you might remember for the rest of your life. I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find that a whole lot of people wanted a great time as they waited patiently for Charm City Devils to take the stage.
It’s kind of funny but during the time in between THC and Charm City Devils the people at the back half of the floor disappeared and I almost wondered if people were leaving. Shortly before Charm City Devils went on people started showing back up to take their place on the floor again. The only people that did not move between the sets were the people at the very front. The first four or five rows of people stayed glued to their spots not willing to move away even for a minute for fear of losing their coveted spot.
The intro for Charm City Devils came over the speakers and all of a sudden the floor was packed. I don’t know when or how it happened but there was suddenly a lot of people cheering as the lights dimmed and Charm City Devils took their place on stage.
Charm City Devils didn’t so much “explode” onto the stage instead they took it over like they owned it, and lit….it…up! This is a rock n roll show. This is what it’s all about, slinky guitar leads, thunderous bass, drumsticks trying to punch their way through the snare and toms while the foot tries to go through the kick drum, and then there’s the front man. Confident and sure of himself, almost bordering on cockiness John gave the crowd a rock star. Every time he hit high notes or sustained notes he would bend way back, curving his spine, flipping his hair back with almost a grimace on his face and then look at the crowd, wiggling his fingers slightly in a c’mon gesture. And every time the crowd would erupt in shouts and cheers a sly little devil may care grin would cross his face. John doesn’t overdo it; in fact the band as a whole doesn’t overdo it. There is a subtlety to Charm City Devils. They exude confidence on stage and they know they don’t have to get overly wild to give the audience a good show. This is pure, unadulterated, raw, hard rock the way it should be played…..with swagger, charm (pun intended) and emotion.
Nick Kay and Victor Karrera tear it up on stage with the dual guitars, while Anthony Arambula and Jason Hesier keep driving the low end with a vengeance. These guys sound every bit as good on stage as their albums do coming through your speakers.
The whole set was a best of the best of both albums, and it must have been tough to pick which songs to play live because both albums rock. John had
the whole crowd chanting, “Can I get a hell yeah, can I get a good lord, can I get a one two”, through “True Love (Hell Yeah) and the guitars had everyone swaying to the bluesy “Best Of The Worst” from their first album “Let’s rock n Roll”. And everyone bounced up and down for the more aggressive “Spite” and “Unstoppable” from “Sins”, but it was the last song of the night that really had people going. When John’s raspy voice started singing the first lines to “Man Of Constant Sorrow” the crowd lost it. While the Charm City Devils set was full of awesome guitar licks and driving hard rock songs it was Man Of Constant Sorrow that was most recognizable to the crowd. Some people rocked to the older songs without knowing some of the new stuff and vice versa, but everyone was familiar with a song that is roughly a hundred years old that Charm City Devils have turned into a rock anthem.
Playing Man Of Constant Sorrow was a great way to end a night of high octane rock n roll, and I do have to say that Charm City devils put on one hell of a show. While I was happy to see Charm City Devils at a more intimate setting these guys don’t really belong on a smaller stage. Charm City Devils belongs on a big stage, playing to big crowds at festivals or on major tours where a ton of people can enjoy what Charm City Devils has to offer. These guys rock and the show was incredible but it would be even more so in a larger setting.
I hope these guys end up on a major tour soon and if they do, whether they are opening or headlining I will be there to cheer, yell, sing and generally rock out to one of the best hard rock bands out there. And for all you rockers I suggest you do the same. Believe me you won’t be disappointed.
All Photos Copyright © 2012 Interstatelive.com
All Photos Copyright © 2012 Interstatelive.com
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For more info on Charm City Devils visit:
For more info on Texas Hippie Coalition visit:
For more info on No 1 Left Standing visit:
For more info on Extreme Turbo Smash visit:
Charm City Devils on stage at Summit Music Hall in Denver, CO. Photo by Paul Edmisson
Texas Hippie Coalition on stage at Summit Music Hall in Denver, CO.
Photo by Paul Edmisson
John Allen of Charm City Devils. Photo by Paul Edmisson