UK glam rockers the Struts burst onto the scene with their debut album, Everybody Wants, which was originally released in the UK in 2014 and reissued in the US with additional songs in 2016. The band have been out on the tour trail building momentum and a dedicated following ever since. They have shared the stage with some of rock’s most high-profile acts, opening for the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Who, Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, the Killers, and most recently with Foo Fighters. Somehow despite all the road miles, the Struts found time to record a new album. Their sophomore effort, Young & Dangerous, is set to drop on October 16th. Anticipating the release, the Struts have set out on a headlining fall tour of North America. They kicked things off on September 21st in Detroit, and are currently set to wrap up November 9th in San Francisco. We caught the band when they recently stopped at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro NC.
Tapped to start the evening at Cat’s Cradle was New York-based, genre defying funk-rockers Spirit Animal. The band consisting of singer Steve Cooper, guitarist Cal Stamp, drummer Ronen Evron, and bassist Paul Michel delivered an insanely high energy set focused on songs from their most recent release, Born Yesterday. Calling their all too brief set high energy would be doing it a disservice, they were positively bombastic. Spirit Animal is a band that leaves it all on the stage, and the audience definitely took notice.
With the room still buzzing, White Reaper took the stage and powered through a set of garage pop-punk. The band, hailing from Kentucky, picked up the pedal-to-the-floor energy and vibe from Spirit Animal and not only kept it going, but they added a riff-heavy edge. White Reaper released their sophomore album, The World’s Best American Band, last year and have spent considerable time working to live up to the tongue-in-cheek title. From what we saw at the Cradle, their rowdy, hooky, goodtime songs are helping to state their case.
After the powerful double-shot of openers, the lights dimmed and the time had come. The Struts hit the stage and launched into “Primadonna Like Me,” followed by “Body Talks,” from their forthcoming album, Young & Dangerous. Flamboyant frontman Luke Spiller was the total embodiment of a Freddie Mercury / Mick Jagger hybrid, oozing joyful raw energy and flashy showmanship. Not to be left behind, his bandmates, guitarist Adam Slack, bassist Jed Elliott, and drummer Gethin Davies provided the sonic underpinning that matched, and at times, elevated the performance of Spiller. With each new song, the confined environment of Cat’s Cradle was stretched almost to the breaking point trying to contain the massive, anthemic sights and sounds of the Struts. Their set struck a nice balance between the new songs and the older fan favorites. Songs like “Kiss This,” “Mary Go Round,” and “Put Your Money On Me” were played with as much enthusiasm as the fresh new material. There was even an inspired cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark”, complete with an audience member pulled up on stage to dance with Luke Spiller, filling the role of Courtney Cox from the famous 80’s video. Throughout the show, Spiller, ever the showman, engaged the crowd. He urged the audience to raise their arms, clap, and even to crouch down and pop up in unison acting like human fireworks. Normally band directed crowd participation feels heavy-handed and forced. Somehow the Struts managed to pull it off with such earnestness that it just felt jubilant and carefree. The whole evening moved at a breakneck pace and by the time the band ended with “Where Did She Go?” it felt like the party was just getting into its groove. Luckily the wildly cheering crowd was treated to a three song encore of “Somebody New,” and “Ashes,” before truly leaving ‘em wanting more with “Could Have Been Me.”
The Struts are a band that live up to the larger than life description. Their songs, their performance, everything about them is tailored to massive stadium stages in front of hordes of fans. If you get the chance to catch them on the current tour, don’t let it pass by. Chances are they will not be playing to intimate venues for much longer.
The Struts + White Reaper + Spirit Animal @ Cats Cradle