There is nothing better than a great rock and roll show. When it comes to live music, I want long hair, ripped jeans, and songs about sex, drugs and violence. Don’t get me wrong; I love folk and country as much as the next guy. I have several Fleet Foxes albums. I can appreciate that band’s delicate songcraft. However, I much prefer rock and roll. Sweaty, loud, simple rock and roll.
And that is exactly what I got from J Roddy Walston & the Business last Saturday, March 24, in Cincinnati. The band played a fantastic show at the Taft Theatre’s brand new Ballroom: an hour and a half of relentless, boozy, Jerry Lee Lewis-meets-AC/DC rock and roll.
The band, which released its self-titled second record in 2010, is slowly building a following based on its supercharged piano-based tunes about drugs, women, and everything that lies in between the two. The sound translates into an incredible live show, eschewing arena-rock frills and focusing on the music, which is dirty, Southern, fast and loud.
After great sets from local band Pop Empire and indie-rockers The Features, J Roddy and his band took the stage. The band tore into the set with much Rolling Stones swagger, playing every song from its most recent record, including swampy takes on “Pigs N’ Pearls” and “Use Your Language,” and an epic version of “Brave Man’s Death.”
The band’s stage presence was on par with the classic rock star image: long hair, beards, and sweat-soaked flannel shirts. They did well to imitate their influences as well: during tunes like the rollicking “Don’t Break the Needle,” Walston banged on his piano in an oh-so-Jerry lee Lewis fashion, and the burning guitar leads would make Angus Young proud.
At one point during the show, J Roddy announced that he had been feeling under the weather.
“I’ve got a 102 degree temperature right now,” he said, Gatorade bottle at his side. “But I wasn’t gong to miss this show for anything.”
The Business also played several new tunes from its forthcoming record for the crowd. The unheard tunes didn’t disappoint, and the band still managed to keep the audience engaged through sing-along sections.
After the set (which also included a fierce version of Little Richard’s “Lucille”) the band reclaimed the stage for a three-song encore, ending with an extended jam on “Used to Did.”
There was something strangely refreshing a bout seeing this band live. While I’ve been a fan of their latest record for over a year, the band’s charisma really completed the show. The Business seems very fan-oriented and fun: the musicians have a great time playing the music they love, and they want fans to have a great time as well.
It is also refreshing to see a rock and roll band making waves on the music scene. Often, critics and artists alike get caught up in the fads of the day, with much focus on breaking ground or innovation. J Roddy Walston & the Business show that those things are not always necessary; there is still so much more that can be done with guitars, pianos, and drums. Rock and roll is still very relevant today, thanks in part to bands like this who are working to keep it alive.
(Kent Montgomery / firstname.lastname@example.org)