Riffs, Skulls, and Fireworks 

Band of Skulls headline a night rock heaviness

Band of Skulls w/ Firework Show
The Pour House
Wed. Aug. 12

More than a few veteran band scene folks and young indie music fans showed up at the Pour House to check out British rock trio Band of Skulls on Wednesday. It was cool to see such a strong turn-out from Charleston on a weeknight for a rookie band on its first-ever U.S. tour — and it was especially encouraging to see and hear the crowd's genuine positivity and appreciation for both bands on the bill.

Local rock quartet Firework Show struck things up right at 10 p.m., set up at the edge of the stage (right in front of the Band of Skulls' modest backline). Loud, but not at a malicious high volume level, the band meandered through yet another dynamic set of complex and mildly psychedelic jams and compositions. Sporting a thin 'stache and a longish pony tail, guitarist and lead singer Zach Bodtorf kind of presented the acid-head look of the late Randy California (lead guitarist of the pysche-rock band Spirit), but his fuzzy and dense guitar tine resembled those of Santana, Clapton, and Page.

Playing a basic four-piece kit with three (cracked?) cymbals, drummer Brandon Gallagher propelled the set with his explosive style. For all of his brute-force flailing fills and over-the-top monkey business, his tasteful transitions and rhythmic patterns effectively drove most of the build-ups and decrescendos in the songs — from trippy slow jams in 4/4 to more hyper prog-rock instrumentals in odd time signatures.

The Southampton-based Band of Skulls did not sound or look like a band that's only been together for a year and a half. Their performance was powerful and precise, and a bit heavier than the songs on their brand-new album called Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. The Skulls took the stage to loud applause and launched into a very tight, fluid set of songs from the debut. While the band's recordings lean a little toward the atmospheric "shoegazer" style that was so prevalent in British rock in the '90s, their stage sound and occasional sonic explorations stomped like the heaviest '70s acid rock.

Local radio station The Bridge at 105.5 had been playing cuts from the album over the last few weeks. When the Skulls played the anthemic single "Fires" — featuring great harmonies between guitarist Russell Marsden, and bassist Emma Richardson — The Bridge's Joel Frank started jumping around like a maniac. More than a few audience members in the front rows seemed mesmerized or star-struck by Marsden and Richardson. I paid more attention to bearded drummer Matthew Hayward in the back as he dug his kick pedal into the bass drum and articulated every cymbal accent and snare fill with consistency. His steadiness reminded me of Pixies drummer David Lovering.

Cool and gracious, confident and unpretentious, the Band of Skulls successfully rocked the crowd, earned their applause, and authenticated the hype.

Fireworks Show

Band of Skulls



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