A packed house of hundreds moved and grooved to the heavy riffs of Clutch at the State Theatre on Thursday. With a 20-year catalog and a new album, Earth Rocker, the veteran rock band from Maryland headlined a groove-heavy show along with Lionize and the Sword.
Opening the show was Lionize. As the legions of Clutch fans filed in, Lionized jam band-esque, reggae-influenced grooves caught them in a web of rhythm. Lionize had the early spectators dancing and moving, making an early positive inpact on audience members unfamiliar with their work.
Following Lionize was the second metal band of the evening, retro rockers the Sword. Although they look contemporary, with all but their guitarist sporting elements of a hipster-ish look, the Sword sounded purely metal. From the opening riff, they were no doubt heavily influenced by Black Sabbath, from song construction to lead singer J.D. Cronise's Ozzy Osbourne-like voice and tone. The Sword rocked through several songs before closing with a cover of ZZ Top's Cheap Sunglasses.
Finally, Clutch took the stage, opening with Mob Gone Wild from their sixth studio album, Blast Tyrant. Although the moshpit was quiet and barely formed during Lioneze and The Sword, it exploded with banging bodies when Clutch filled the State Theatre with songs they knew. Of course, a moshpit wouldn't be a real moshpit without a few people getting carried away and too aggressive. Those who deviated from acceptable behavior were quickly shown the door by security.
Clutch played several new songs, including Earth Rocker's title track and Rocket 88. In total, their set of nearly 20 songs consisted of nearly half-dozen from their latest release, plus several from their third release, The Elephant Riders, and more from Blast Tyrant, including a song lead singer Neil Fallon dedicated "for the ladies": Cypress Grove, a song possibly about witches from the backwoods who don't take any guff from the local men.
At the end of the performance, Clutch closed with one of the biggest hits in their catalog, Electric Worry, a song that has been used in TV commercials and by NHL teams. Hundreds yelled the "Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang," refrain and seemingly everyone moved, moshed, swayed or sang along.
Electric Worry and Clutch's other recent hits have increased the band's popularity from obscure cult rockers to just-under-mainstream rock favorites. The audience at State Theater reflected this growing fan base, as there were not only traditional old-school, long-haired, tattooed metal fans, but also fans whose attire and appearance could have fit in at any other concert, event, or festival.
Nowhere was Clutch's growing popularity more visible however, than in a young girl who was probably not even a twinkle in her parents' eyes when Clutch released their first album in 1993 — nor even, perhaps, when the band released Blast Tyrant in 2004. But as she left State Theater with her father, the young fan wore a small purple Clutch T-shirt and a huge smile on her face. Her father mentioned the girl had been waiting for the opportunity to see Clutch for more than two years, but had to wait until she was old enough. Her night finally arrived.
And with that little girl and other new fans discovering Clutch and going to shows, and bands such as Lionize and The Sword following in their footsteps, the future of rock and roll is in good hands.
— Michael Lortz, tbt*