By Michel Dussack
Back in December, Chevelle released their latest record â€˜Hats Off to the Bullâ€™ to overwhelmingly positive critical reception. On February 29th, they brought the â€˜Hats Off to the Bull tourâ€™ to New Yorkâ€™s legendary (and intimate) Irving Plaza to deliver an energetic 90 minute set to a sold out crowd that touched upon nearly every release in the bandâ€™s 13 year discography.
Directly supporting Chevelle on this tour are the Californian rock band known at Middle Class Rut, and they did an excellent job at warming up the crowd. For those unfamiliar, Middle Class Rut is a duo consisting of vocalist and guitarist Zack Lopez and vocalist and drummer Sean Stockham. They played an eight song set which was compromised almost entirely of tracks from their 2010 full length album â€˜No Name No Colorâ€™. The band frequently interacted with the crowd, at one point Lopez noted that the band found a lyric book in the venue and asked if it belonged to anyone there. Of course no fewer than 50 people raised their hands to which Lopez responded â€œOh you all carry lyrics books on you huh?â€ and Stockham quipped that they would have it at their merch table and someone would have to recite one of the poems from the book in order to claim it. Lopez then joked around that maybe they would sell it for $100 at the merch table instead. The band closed their set with two of my favorite tracks from their album â€“ â€˜Busy Beinâ€™ Bornâ€™ and â€˜USAâ€™ which was introduced as a song about â€œanother USA, so donâ€™t get offendedâ€.
After a 30 minute wait, Chevelle took the stage next to play 17 heavy hitting songs that encompassed all their albums except for their debut. While hearing their albums is an enjoyable experience on its own, itâ€™s hard to put into words just how impressive it is to see a three people recreate the massive sound that is Chevelle live. Credit should be given to bassist Dean Bernardini, drummer Sam Loeffler and especially guitarist and vocalist Pete Loeffler, whose voice sounds as great as it ever has, for putting out as much noise as they do between the three of them.
While the band is touring in support of the aforementioned â€˜Hats Off to the Bullâ€™, they should also be given credit for not forcing it down the audienceâ€™s throat. Instead, they played 4 choice cuts from the album including singles â€œFace to the Floorâ€ and the title track and kept to their tried and true hits. Standouts included all the songs that are to be expected such as â€˜Another Know It Allâ€™, â€˜Jarsâ€™, â€˜Send The Pain Belowâ€™, â€˜The Clincherâ€™, and â€˜The Redâ€™. Indeed, itâ€™s hard to even list standouts from the night because every song was great and the crowd ate it all up. Pete kept the banter to a minimum throughout the night in order to play as many songs as possible in their 90 minute slot, though he frequently noted how happy he was to be in New York. Several times throughout their set, he noticed that the crowd looked hot and sweaty and asked if anyone wanted water before tossing an open bottle into the crowd to cool them off.
Despite Chevelle not being in the forefront of rock like they used to be (in no small part thanks to the complete non-existence of rock radio in New York), the band continues to make great music and put on a killer live show. As a consequence of this, the band are able to play more intimate venues than before, something that even a minor fan of their work should take advantage of.
All photos courtesy of Michelle Wenz. See more of her photos here