On June 1st, 2012, summer began with a loud bang from Gotham Rocks. Gramercy Theater in New York City was near sold out for this showcase of unsigned bands, which is a considerable feat during the summertime when everyone tends to leave NYC for the weekend. Five great bands came out to feed the fans’ rock hunger with their special blends of spicy guitars, tangy bass, bold drums, and sweet vocals. These talented groups played with heart, fire, and passion to make what was an excellent concert-going experience for the crowd of 600+ rock fans.
Woods of Arden was the opening rock band of the night, warming up the crowd with their modern rock sound that has a bit of a classic rock vibe. The band’s musicianship was very solid overall. Their stage presence was pretty tame as a whole except for the drummer, who played with fire and maintained a great groove throughout the performance. The singer’s high pitched glam rock-esque screams/belts/ball-squeezing noise were awesome and surprisingly not cheesy, which is extremely hard to pull it off in a modern rock band. They were a great appetizer to the Gotham Rocks feast, leaving the palette hungry for more rock. Luckily the well seasoned band Circus Life came on next.
The trio can be best described as a well-oiled machine who relies on nothing more than simplicity to deliver a kick-ass rock show. They were tight musically and really poured their hearts out on every note they played. Their stage presence supported this and musically they sounded phenomenal. The lead guitar work was particularly great, blending elements of flash and soul in a sonic frenzy that made one proud to be a rock fan. A tip of the hat goes out to Circus Life for delivering the essence of rock & roll on a silver platter.
The Blackfires were on next and holy-asskicking-rock-monster Batman! They are the Charlton Heston of unsigned bands: the essence of all that is man and all that is rock. Their look, energy, and performance was everything a good rock band should be. Tight, well-lubricated, and raw (get your mind out of the gutter you heathen), The Blackfires delivered an amazing show. Every musician stood out: both guitarists, drummer, bassist, and singer all were in the moment and came together to do what rock bands should do: rock everyone’s face off with precise musicianship and monstrous energy. Even the most interesting man in the world from Dos Equiis listens to them. Their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” was a nice touch and the singer pulled it off VERY well, which is extremely difficult to do. Yes, they were the perfect foreplay for the steamy yet sensual headliner, Bound By Substance.
The fearsome foursome that makes up Bound By Substance were out to prove that they earned their headlining spot by performing like any good headliner should. Their music was a little different than the opening bands since they were a little more progressive and extensive with their song structures. Their use of improvisation and jamming worked very well, maximizing melodic phrasing on extended lead guitar sections and filling in rhythm textures with an electronic keyboard. Their stage presence was excellent and all members did a great job of interacting with the crowd during the show (it also helps that ladies’ undergarments were being tossed on stage). The fantastic four also used dynamics very well during their set, which took the audience on a journey via peaks and valleys that occur in their songs. Like any good main course, Bound By Substance was rich, tasty, and did not give you gas. Their set felt short, which is a great sign for any headlining rock band. They left the stage with everyone’s heart, love, and in some cases, underwear.
Last Stand For Lucy was the last band of the night. They were a nice change stylistically from everyone else with a sound reminiscent of bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, Muse, etc. The band wasn’t as polished as their predecessors though and their vocals were lacking clarity. At any rate, their energy was good and they closed out what was a fantastic night. Summer is here folks and so is Gotham Rocks. Let’s all raise a refreshing summer cocktail to these great bands for giving us the soundtrack to a great season.'