» Blog Archive Clutch Send NJ Out Of 2018 With A Bang -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Tours

With how 2018 was for rock music, it’s no wonder so many are spelling doomsday for the scene. There’s no mainstream attention or innovation for rock currently, and your atypical rock bands are just aping on what’s expected from the genre. Except Clutch. Let’s be real, love them or hate them, Clutch are doing the exact opposite of literally everyone else and doing well for themselves, too. The near-sold out show at Starland Ballroom can attest to that.

I’ve  only been to one post-Christmas show, so I was honestly nervous that the turn out would have been a small one. Quite the opposite, as I’ve stated, as Clutch have a serious draw in New Jersey. Nor have I seen Clutch before, so I really didn’t know what to expect.

First and foremost, I commend the bill on being diverse and unique rather than catering to a single demographic. If you told me a Zappa-like punk marimba group would work as an opening act for Clutch, I’d no doubt question it, but it ended up working. Instrumental groups? Sure, it works.

Yet Clutch themselves lived up to the hype their built up. It was, to be fair, a long 40 minute wait for them to hit the stage, but upon doing so it was right to business. No nonsense with no filler to be found. There was work to be done.

Most notably, Clutch kept the set relatively focused unto their most recent release. Book of Bad Decisions is a pretty solid album, but the fans are loving it. From the moment Neil Fallon took the mic and “How to Shake Hands” was underway, I had to take a step away from the crowd on the barrier as they were belting every word into my ear. By the time “Spacegrass” came around, it was obvious that the crowd was into it. Give 100% and you’ll get 100% back.

Neil Fallon is also one of the best frontmen in the game for a reason, too. Fallon is hard to keep in one spot and fully embodies the spirit of rock and roll on stage, complete with his signature stretches and poses. He’s an animated man who refuses to be stationary and opts to be the most aggressive of frontmen without having to spit death growls unto his crowd in the process. In between lines you could either catch him giving a quick smile or readying himself for the next barrage of soulful, bluesy vocal passages, all the while completely acing his delivery and the unconventional lyrics he’s known for penning.

As a musician, I have to appreciate how tight the instrumentalist were, as well. There’s this idea in rock music, in particular the more analog bands in the genre, that the guitars and bass have to be repressively muddy in tone and the drums can be passingly sloppy. That’s not the case here. Drummer Jean-Paul Gaster is unstoppable and guitarist Tim Sult is a vastly underrated player. Bassist Dan Maines also has the fattest, most audible tone I’ve heard in awhile, and when Sult is off doing solos and whatnot, Maines’ sound is strong enough to fill the void while there’s a lack of guitar on the rhythm. It’s all tight, it’s all together, and it’s all functioning as a giant wrecking ball.

So even though we’re in 2019 now and rock is losing its mainstream appeal , Clutch are proving why it’s essential to stick to your guns and do your own thing in today’s musical climate. While today’s largest “rock” acts (Pop acts, let’s be real) are embracing digital sounds, it’s nice to come back to some analog sounds that are very much hitting you in the face without any amp simulators. Clutch are seasoned veterans of a good time, and you can be sure seeing them is a worthwhile investment.

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