We'll Do It Live

Rival Sons

01.25.13 | San Francisco, CA

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[Photo gallery below review]

“Are these guys for real?”

This thought occurred to me a few songs into Rival Sons’ come-out-swinging performance at a packed Café Du Nord.

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

The hair, the jewelry, the charmingly dramatic body movements, and even the music – which Dirty Impound has championed since Day One of its existence (Favorite Albums of 2012)/Favorite Albums of 2011 – seemed almost too perfect, the Platonic notion of what a classic rock outfit should be breathing hot on our necks while wicked licks engulfed the rest of us. It was one of several moments where I wondered how much of Rival Sons is conceptual and how much just honest embrace of rock’s sticky, denim wrapped spirit.

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

Rival Sons by Whitney Bekolay

However, a few moments after this initial question popped up, I found myself swept up in the very present, very palpable thing they do, shouting, “Burn down Los Angeles!” and pumping the air with much of the churned up SF crowd. The Rival Sons inspire passion and presence. One can’t crank their tunes and not move and windmill like a living room Strat God. This is rock that makes one fuck better, the sounds and soul of it tickling chakras and unleashing pheromones, pupils dilating as sweat oozes beneath one’s clothes. The studio stuff stimulates in this way if you’re tuned in, but live it’s all up in your face in ways too obvious to ignore. When so much rock today has been homogenized and stripped of anything beyond advertising-minded titillation, it’s heartening (and hardening) to be pawed by the likes of Rival Sons. And this is what makes the opening question kinda moot.

Whether this band is a post-modern experiment or an utterly sincere endeavor – or most likely some merger of the two – is beside the point. The music speaks for itself and it is bloody effective – carnal, knowing, clever, romantic, sexily rhythmic, and delivered by guys who get the job done both in concert and on tape. They seem determined to be part of rock’s Great Pantheon AND they don’t seem interested in being the next Zeppelin, Aerosmith, etc. What Rival Sons is doing – looking crazy cool while they do it- is more meta than mere mimicry, and, allowed to simply have its way with us, it’s such a good, good time. (Dennis Cook)

Dirty Impound is once again delighted to share the photographic talents of Whitney Bekolay. She has great instincts for what details are worth snaring, moments worthy of reflection grabbed from the immediate moment. As much as any words above, these shots capture the mood of this night very well.