Wilson, five Doods from Detroit, brought their homegrown F-ckery to Chicago’s House of Blues for an opening set on the Steel Panther Sunset Strip Live! Tour. Having teamed up with Steel Panther a couple years ago, their energetic set was a good match once again. However, quite a bit has changed with the band since then. To be honest, it’s all for the better.
Mostly playing songs from their new album, Tasty Nasty, the band came out swinging with heavy-hitter, Dumptruck. Originally released as the second single from the album, this song really got your blood pumping. With drummer Matt Puhy in the driver’s seat and guitarist Jason Spencer wailing and bending notes, not only did the song make a bold statement musically at the start of the set, it’s really electric in a live setting. They continued with Wrong Side Of History and its dirty sounding intro. Vocalist Chad Nicefield sang with such conviction during this song, all while commanding the stage. I guess when you’re sportin’ green hair and a yellow plaid outfit, confidence is your middle name.
Bassist James Lascu tore it up. Not only during the first two songs of the night, but throughout the entire set. With hair flying and body moving, he was a whirlwind at times, mostly just pausing briefly enough to sing backing vocals. His stage left partner in time (see what I did there?), guitarist, Kyle Landry, brought the heat as well. Not only providing another layer along with Spencer, his backing vocals helped to round out the full sound many are already familiar with.
The last Wilson album, Right To Rise, produced Give ‘Em Hell. Even though Wilson aren’t dipping too far back into their catalog these days, this was another fast-paced, in your face song that fit well into the set. During the night, some band members took turns greeting their masked mystery man stage left to get drops of some secret liquid. Was it drugs, alcohol, green Kool-aid? The world may never know. They eventually took a bigger step back to 2013’s Full Blast F-ckery and pulled out, College Gangbang. Ever since the 2016 tour, I always felt this could have easily been a Steel Panther song based on title alone.
They headed back into new material territory with funky, My Hustle and upbeat, Act My Age. While the band never dropped the level of commitment to their performance, it seemed some in the crowd really felt the left turn the band had taken with their musical direction. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking the change. Change is good. While the new Wilson album may not be for everyone, I commend the band for sticking to their guns and playing the hell out of these new songs.
Wilson’s 40-minute set really picked up speed with the last few songs. First up was fan-favorite, The Flood. I don’t know if it’s the lyrics, the “stomp, stomp, clap” beat or something else, but everyone always seems to respond positively to this song. Known for playing a cover here and there, the band dropped 1997’s Tubthumping by Chumbawamba on the Chicago crowd and it was an instant party with people singing along. You know, you can’t help it, “I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going to keep me down.”
Nicefield briefly left the stage only to come back out wearing his big green marching bass drum. As the band jammed, he played along and the crowd was into it. Eventually the drum was placed on the stage and they went into the explosive, Windows Down! The night came to an end with two final songs. Like A Baller, the lead single from Tasty Nasty, was and is so much fun live. That rhythmic intro, with its slow gradual build up, that eventually lead to a super catchy chorus. If anyone was in doubt that Wilson were losing their Rock ‘n’ Roll edge, it came through loud and clear during the last minute of this song and the intensity continued all throughout House of F-ckery. “If you’ve got a problem with them, then you’ve got a problem with me.”
Find all 2018 and 2019 Wilson tour dates here.
Read the Steel Panther review here.
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