Revolver Tour Fires Through Tremont
Shows like The Revolver Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Tour (sponsored by Revolver Magazine) illustrate everything that is great about the beloved, often hallowed, artform called rock music. This tour features bands fronted by women, all of whom rock, but all of whom rock quite differently. Representing everything from metal to’ 90s-inspired alt-rock, The Revolver Tour: Featuring Bands from The Hottest Chicks in Hard Rock Issue show at Tremont Music Hall last week was one that truly shouldn’t have been missed.
Local rockers Tattermask opened the show with a quick, but well-chosen, set of songs that demonstrated their considerable rock chops and showcased lead singer Amanda Tattermask’s spectacular vocal range. Opening with “Better Off Alone?” from their superb new release Carpe Noctem, there wasn’t even a crowd in front of the stage yet. The crowd quickly flocked to the stage by the time they made it to the song’s first chord-change though. With their great stage-presence they quickly won over everyone there. For a band that doesn’t often play covers, they played the heck out of Seal’s “A Kiss From A Rose”. Their rock-arrangement of the song was true to the original composition, but Tattermask made it all their own.
Few bands sound as good on plastic or translated to 1s and 0s of a digital download, but I was more than pleased to discover that Tattermask sounds just as good live as they do though my headphones. They’re also some of the coolest rockers you’ll ever meet. I mean what other band buys the early arrivers to the show (and any of the other members of the other bands on the bill who might be hungry too) pizza before the show? Yep, that’d be Amanda Tattermask and the band. I’m going to catch them in concert again soon. I’ve got to hear them play “Asylum” off Carpe Noctem. It understandably didn’t make the setlist that night, but hopefully next time.
Next on the bill was Vancouver’s Falling For Scarlet. For a band whose music I’d only heard via Spotify, and considered them to be a little light on the rock for my tastes, they were much harder sounding than I expected. While the were a little lighter sounding than the rest of the bands on the bill, their being there, and playing as great a set as they did, supports that this tour really is something special.Falling For Scarlet played like a band that was out to prove that they can be great, and in many ways already are. Their slower songs were just as passionate and intense as their hard rocking ones.
This band was really out to win you over, not with excess or juvenile energy, but with solid rock songs played with the hunger and drive of a band clawing its way to the top. Even with a lead singer of some renown (Lee Tomaschefski has some acting credits to her name and even appeared in Sucker Punch) this band worked with its musical ability, not celebrity. Their cover of “No One Knows” by Queens of The Stone Age, which closed out their set, was one of the night’s most memorable performances.
Late-teen rocker Diamante, and her all female band, followed Falling For Scarlet and injected some raw rock sexuality into the proceedings, along with some raucous old school rock licks. She might be young, but Diamante is well versed in the power of the image. Standing on the elevated platform portion of the stage for ninety percent of her set, where the photographers could get the best shots of her, Diamante swaggered, posed and swung her hair for the cameras like a pro.
Image is big with her, but if she didn’t have the voice, the songwriting talent and the stage presence to back up her dirty blonde looks (and act) she’d just be another dime-a-dozen walking rock-cliche. She really does have the voice and songwriting ability to back up her act though. While her songs are admittedly and unabashedly party rock anthems, they are well written and do seriously rock. “Bite Your Kiss,” and “There’s A Party in My Pants (And You’re All Invited)” — yes, those are the actual titles of some of her songs — aren’t going to go down as some of the greatest or most inspiring rock songs in history, but they will work their way onto just about every discerning party rock playlist.
“Dirty Blonde” might be her best song to date. It really got the crowd going. Overall, her less-scary-than-Taylor-Momsen-image, and more approachable persona than Lzzy Hale’s places her squarely in between the two musically and visually. If Diamante is this good, performance wise on her first major tour, then the above listed two better move over and make some room on the “in your face hot chick rocker” stage. Diamante will be up there with them soon.
Every once in a while you see a band live that you’ve never seen before or only heard in passing on iTunes, and they end up becoming one of your favorite bands on the spot. That was Fit For Rivals that night. The complete polar opposite of Diamante (not that there’s anything wrong at all with Diamante’s polarity), Fit For Rivals took the stage and played some straight up rock that was a little bit ‘90s alternative, a little bit punk and a whole hell of a lot entertaining. With a no-nonsense, wear what you always wear, and a who cares if “not having an act is your act” presence, Fit For Rivals really demonstrated why they are one of the best bands touring, playing and recording at their level of fame.
Lead singer Renee Phoenix has one of the most unique rock voices I’ve heard in quite a while. She also has the commanding rocker stage persona of the greats with the vocal and performance talent to back it up. They were the first band that played that night that drove me straight to their merch stand to pick up their album “Steady Damage”. One of the things I love about Tremont and tours like this is that the artists are really able to make themselves accessible to their fans. Still blown away by their set, I managed to somehow communicate to Phoenix how much she and her band blew me away that night. She was very cool and gracious to this bumbling rock fan, which just endeared the band to me even more. With an new album due out this summer from Fit For Rivals, I (as well as legions of their other fans) will be in rock heaven.
The band that I personally was there to see the most (next to Tattermask) took the stage next. I was just a passing fan of The Agonist in the past, and (with no disrespect to immensely talented former lead singer Alissa White-Gluz-who now fronts Arch Enemy) I really didn’t get into them seriously until Vicky Psarakis joined the band. Some long term Agonist fans aren’t thrilled with the change in vocalists and the perceived move toward the mainstream that The Agonistis accused of making with some of the songs off their new album Eye of Providence. Musically, vocally and lyrically though, Eye of Providence is The Agonists’ best album to date. Their live set simply reinforced this fact.
Mixing older songs with newer ones, Psarakis and the band delivered one of the best metal sets I’ve seen in ages. Psarakis’ range is phenomenal and she switches from growling vocals to beautiful harmonies effortlessly. “Faceless Redirected” off their new album is the perfect example of everything that is great about The Agonist and their new lead singer. It was one of the standout performances that night as well. I kind of got swept up in the band’s performance and the rock critic tropes were washed from my mind for a very short 45 minutes that night. If there was a moment of transcendence that night, it occurred during The Agonists’ set. Like Tattermask though, they failed to play my favorite new song of theirs, “I Endeavour”. That’s okay though. It’s just another reason, amongst the many reasons, I will be catching them live again as soon as I can.
Speaking of getting swept away in a great live music experience, headliners Flyleaf demonstrated why they have been around as long as they have and have also survived a change of lead singer, which in some aspects made them a better band as well. New Flyleaf lead singer Kristen May has many of the same vocal traits as former singer Lacey Sturm, but with a bit more of a range and flexibility to her voice. She managed to sing the old material just as convincingly as the new (just as Vicky Psarakis did with The Agonist). She really shone through on the more expansive and less hard rocking material off of Flyleaf’s first album with her on the lead vocals: Between the Stars.
Flyleaf has always rocked hard, but rarely have they elevated their listeners as much as they have with their new material. This was particularly evident in their strikingly moving performance of “City Kids” (also off their newest album). Flyleaf knows a little something about elevation, betraying an obvious exposure to church music in their background due to their start as Christian rockers (much like U2 — in fact they kind of are the U2 of their genre of hard/’90s alt-rock music). Rarely can a band get as much emotion and energy out of such a sparsely-arranged song. Flyleaf does and did with “City Kids”.
Their new album does have some hard rockers on it though, and Flyleaf rewarded the crowd with the best of them by opening their set with “Set Me On Fire” and “Traitor’. “Head Underwater” and “Web of Lies” were two other standout performances that just happened to also be new songs off of their new album. Of course, they closed with a golden oldie, “I’m So Sick,” but it was fitting as Flyleaf really demonstrated with their set that they are just as interesting and relevant as they were 10 years ago, and still have a bright future.
Overall, even though the Revolver Hottest Chicks in Rock Tour might have a bit of a cheeky title, and had some definitely cheeky moments, it really was the type of show that not only showcased some of the most talented females in rock right now, it featured some of the best bands in rock right now. If you have a chance to catch this tour while it still is running, consider yourself lucky. Get out there and get your tickets.