LIVE REVIEW: Royal Blood @ Mercury Lounge

Royal Blood

Only a band as rambunctious and buzzworthy as Royal Blood can make a New York City debut with a force as colossal as your favorite heavy metal band. Coming out of Brighton, UK, the outfit consists of only two players – Michael Kerr on bass and Benjamin Thatcher on drums. We’ve experienced raucous blues-rock duos before, but none quite so unruly or so thoroughly heralded. Their Mercury Lounge show last week proved that there is a new kind of loud on the scene. And although they played in Brooklyn at Glasslands the night before, the teeming crowd brought its own unquenchable energy, fans moshing their way to the front  of the crowd just to catch a glimpse of the highly anticipated performance.

Royal Blood’s heavy sound is shaped by Kerr’s use of a Gretsch bass throughout most of their songs, fed through a distortion pedal. I also noticed that for their single “Little Monster” he switched to a regular-sized bass. Thatcher kept the rowdy, packed house alive with his accelerated and furious drumming. The frenzy was astonishing; I kept thinking, how in the Hell can these two guys create this enormous sound? I’ve been to my fair share of shows but trust me, this was easily one of the most intense. Though Royal Blood didn’t come on until 11PM and it was a Tuesday night, the crowd continued thrashing unapologetically. Usually I find time to escape to the back bar to refill my whiskey sour, but on that night I was too mesmerized by the pair’s ferocity.

Their brash sound isn’t the only impressive thing about Royal Blood. It’s also quite astonishing that they’ve garnered this much buzz despite being relatively new. Their debut EP, Out of the Black, was just released in the US, but have quickly become a band to watch out for. No doubt their SXSW performances in March helped cement the rising chatter created when Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders wore a Royal Blood tee on stage at Glastonbury Festival. Add to that their television debut last Friday on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and it seems there’s no stopping these two, who are planning to release a full-length late this summer. If you’re lucky enough to catch one of their limited live dates in the US, you’ll want to purchase every single item off the merch table.

Kerr and Thatcher played a lot of the songs that will populate their upcoming release, as well as the familiar tracks from the EP. Right before launching into “Out of the Black,” Kerr assured the crowd that although it was so “fuckin’ weird” being in New York, they’ll be back. They extended the track into a mini jam session that left everyone enthused and hungry for more – including one very famous audience member: Jimmy Page. Since it’s not likely he’s looking to join the band as guest guitarist, that must mean he’s simply a fan, and that’s got to mean a lot to a pair of aspiring rockers.

You can watch Royal Blood’s video for “Out of the Black” below, and check out the rest of the EP via SoundCloud.

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