Royal Thunder’s ‘Wick’-ed Awesome Gig: Two Cent Review
Brant Bjork, Royal Thunder, Black Wizard and Nick Walker’s Acid Guide Service at the Shredder in Boise, ID, 4.14.17
With sweat dripping off their faces and their bodies thoroughly spent, Royal Thunder huddled together onstage at the Shredder on Friday night after a blistering show, powwowing about their latest concert victory.
The environment was a modest one: Only about 50 people in the crowd witnessed the hard-rock sensations’ flawless 40-minute set, thanks to Boise’s status as the most remote city in the continental U.S.
But that didn’t seem to bother Royal Thunder — who are from Little Rock, Arkansas, after all — nor did it dampen their drive to introduce Wick, their third album. In fact, the band’s six-song performance drew entirely from the record, which came out exactly a week before the show.
The songs (“Burning Tree,” “April Showers,” “Tied,” “The Sinking Chair,” “Wick” and “Anchor”) came across as crisp and original. And if Wick sounds soft on record, witnessing Royal Thunder in concert — with frontwoman Miny Parsons belting it out while Josh Weaver plays as tightly as he appears wound — dispels that notion.
Let it be noted how refreshing it is, in 2017, to watch a hard-rock band whose every member doesn’t have facial hair. Oh, and by the way, has anyone mentioned yet that Parsons looks and sounds exactly like Joan Jett?!? You heard it here first. Promise.
One last thing: Please stop calling Royal Thunder a “southern rock band.” Parsons doesn’t sing with a drawl, the bandmembers don’t wear Confederate flags, and there was nary a biker to be seen in last night’s audience — even in Boise.
Warming the stage before Royal Thunder stormed onto it were Black Wizard (not to be confused with Electric Wizard, Bad Wizard, etc.). Hailing from Vancouver, the four-piece riffed their way through heavy-rock territory, but delivered the only dose of metal all night.
“We came from Vancouver, and it’s a long weekend, so let’s make this one to remember,” frontman Daniel Stokes beckoned to the crowd, as the band dug into material from last year’s New Waste.
Guitarist Eugene Parkomenko was equally enthusiastic before the set began, telling The Bad Penny that the bands were feeling fresh and amped because they were only six shows deep into their tour. The jaunt concludes at the end of the month in Los Angeles.
The last song of Black Wizard’s set, a mostly instrumental tune that resurrected kindred spirits Black Sabbath, belonged to Parkomenko and his expert guitar work. But as a whole, Black Wizard proved to be a tidy hard-hitting band that takes the occasional reprieve to explore headier terrain.
The real headiness, though, belonged to headliner Brant Bjork. After making a name for himself with Kyuss, Fu Manchu and Fatso Jetson as stoner-rock’s go-to drummer, Bjork is now holding the reins of singer/guitarist and leading his own band (with a rotating cast of backup musicians).
The concert wasn’t billed as “Brant Bjork and the Bros” or “Brant Bjork and the Low Desert Punk Band,” just as “Brant Bjork.” But for about half his set, he did bring on Throw Rag’s Sean Wheeler, introduced as “a special guest from the Desert Wizard Association: mystic, seer, rad pinball player.” Spiffily dressed in a black suit and hat, Nelson was a fitting counterweight to Bjork’s neo-hippie garb: jean jacket, long curly brown hair, bandana, black-framed glasses.
Bjork is certainly no Dave Grohl, who reached unexpected heights of success by swapping roles as one of the best drummers on the planet for guitar-playing frontman of one of rock’s biggest bands. Bjork does have a following, though, and they appreciated his groovy tunes — even if none of them included Kyuss covers, and even if he bailed on a planned cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (see above image for proof).
A few hours before Bjork’s set ended, Garden City’s own Nick Walker’s Acid Guide Service cracked open the champagne bottle with a brief but satisfying set of stoner-doom music, underscored by “Rock N Roll Is the Drug I’m On.”
The band has a couple of tracks available for free download on Bandcamp and revealed to The Bad Penny after their set that a bunch more are currently being mastered. When that task is complete — or perhaps sooner — you may hear them on a certain new radio show hosted by yours truly …