There are shows where things just seem off. The band is either tired, road weary, or just not happy for any number of reasons. The performance is a spiritless by the book delivery lacking any emotion or connection to the crowd. When the Band Of Skulls North American tour recently stopped at Motorco Music Hall in Durham NC, the fans in attendance experienced the exact opposite! Touring behind their excellent fourth studio album, By Default, Southampton UK-based Band of Skulls delivered a dynamic high-energy show filled with thunderous foot-stomping rock n’ roll that was played with swagger and style.
With the stage enveloped in clouds of smoke and swirling lights, Band Of Skulls kicked off their set with “In Love By Default,” from the new album immediately followed by “Light of the Morning” from their first album. The one-two punch of new and old songs would set a blistering and engaging pace that would continue for the rest of the set. The trio consisting of Russell Marsden on guitars and vocals, Emma Richardson on bass and vocals, and Matt Hayward behind the drum kit, made an effort to immediately connect with the crowd in the intimate venue. Russell had a huge grin on his face when looking out and surveying the room filled with sweaty fans who stomped, moshed, danced, and raised their arms in triumphant joy with each new song that was played. The energy was something to behold with both Russell and Emma often coming to the front of the stage to lean far out over the crowd while playing, blurring the line between band and audience and summoning, even more, electricity out of an already buzzing room. The weaving of new songs with classics continued as “Himalayan,” “Black Magic,” “Sweet Sour,” and “Blood” all made appearances. The band even worked in some rarely played gems and led the crowd through a sing-along during “Cold Fame.” By the time Band of Skulls closed out the evening with an epic encore performance of “Asleep at the Wheel,” it was a toss-up over who looked sweatier, more spent, and happier… The band or the crowd.
Considering how the evening ended it was slightly surreal that it started on a dreamy note with the introspective indie-pop of Mothers. The Athens Georgia-based band that began as the solo project of Kristine Leschper mixed math rock with intricate instrumentation and Leschper’s interpersonal lyrics delivered in a soothing but unrestrained and powerful voice. The opening set was every bit as powerful as what would follow, but it was delivered in a more restrained yet every bit as emotional manner.