A lot of bands lay claim to having the best fans ever but based on what I saw at Venue Night Club Monday night, that honor goes to Band of Skulls. The crowd that gathered in Vancouver to help them celebrate the ten-year anniversary of their debut hit album Baby Darling Doll Face Honey were some of the most dedicated I’ve seen in my time as a music reviewer. They threw themselves into the music so hard I’m going to have to be a lot more discerning over how I use the phrase die-hard fan from now on.
Newcastle threesome Demob Happy set the tone during their opening set. It took the heavy hitting alternative rock band a few songs to really hit their stride, but once they had the crowd with them, they kept the intensity high. Impossibly tall bass player Mathew Marcantonio doubles as the lead singer for the band with beautiful baritone vocals. Drummer Thomas Armstrong holds down the beat at centre stage with ferocity while guitarist Adam Godfrey discreetly shreds on stage right.
If heavy, melodic alt-rock is your jam, these guys are worth a listen.
For their show in Vancouver, Band of Skulls essentially split their set into two parts, the first being a live performance of Baby Darling Doll Face Honey from top to bottom. It was a brilliant move, as “Light of the Morning” was the perfect song to open with after their long absence from Vancouver. It starts of in a slow drawl that gives way to a staggered beat, allowing founding members Russel Marsden and Emma Richardson to tease the front row of fans by stepping to the front of the stage for a few seconds intermittently throughout the song.
Their two biggest commercial hits were up next - “Death by Diamonds and Pearls” followed by “I Know What I Am.” Everyone that I saw was singing along to every word. They cooled things off for “Honest,” with an unplugged version that had Marsden and Richardson facing each other at centre stage.
I thought things might stay mellow after that, but I was completely wrong. A small but passionate group of fans at the front formed a mosh pit during “Patterns” and they didn’t let up for the remainder of the show. That’s dedication. They weren’t the only ones showing their love for Band of Skulls through movement. The entire first few rows were giving it everything they had and even up in the balcony there were people belting out all the words.
I’m sure mosh pits, sing-a-longs and general booty shaking are all standard at a Band of Skulls show, but it’s not normal for a Vancouver crowd to be that demonstrative. It was cool to see folks in my town all revved up and a testament to how much the music meant to the fans. They weren’t just freaking out over the commercial hits; these fans were here for the full Band of Skulls experience.
“Dull Gold Heart” was a highlight for me, a song that I had previously overlooked, but will be added to my current playlist right away.
“Love is All You Love” was the first song they played after Baby Darling Doll Face Honey had been heard in its’ entirety. It’s the title track from their fifth and most current album, which introduces fans to a slightly different sound than we’ve heard previously from Band of Skulls.
The new sound is heavy handed electronically, which helps make the new sound more robust and refined. The best thing is that their fans seemed to be equally as enthused by the new tracks as they were by the older material.
The last song they played was “Carnivorous,” another track from Love is All You Love. Marsden and Richardson both ditched their respective instruments and performed the song from the crowd… it was an impressive ending to a surprisingly dynamic evening.