You know those bands that are as good, or even better live than they are in the studio? Without a doubt, British indie-rock outfit Band of Skulls falls under that category. Promoting their latest album on their By Default tour, Band of Skulls brought their usual grittiness and heavy indie-rock with blues undertones to the famous Vogue Theatre in Vancouver. What made their concert even better were their performances of older songs, which the audience ate up.
Band of Skulls chose Mothers, an indie-folk rock band led by vocalist and guitarist Kristine Leschper, based out of Athens, Georgia, to open for them. In comparison to Band of Skulls’ frenetic performance, Mothers was a great opening band because their music didn’t take energy from the audience, but rather warmed them up and sets them in the mood.
Leschper’s eerie and soothing voice, along with guitarist Drew Kirby and bassist Chris Goggans giving it their all, led to an enjoyable performance, and Matthew Anderegg’s performance on the drums was a show within itself. It was mesmerizing to see a person one with their instrument like Anderegg was.
Between the four songs Mothers performed, the best part was their pacing in each song. The start-and-stop, where the pace would suddenly pick up and die down smoothly was enjoyable to watch. Their best performances were “Copper Mine” and “It Hurts Until it Doesn’t.”
By the time Mothers was finished, the audience was more than ready for Band of Skulls. Coming out from the dark with only epilepsy-inducing flashing lights to give us an indication of them arriving, the band opened up with the namesake song of the album, “In Love By Default.”
Throughout the rest of the night, Band of Skulls paired a song from By Default with a song from their previous albums. The audience primarily consisted of diehard fans that have followed the band for years, as the majority sang along to each and every lyric of their older songs.
The songs eaten up by the audience were “Bruise,” “Death by Diamonds and Pearls,” “I Know What I Am,” “Sweet Sour,” “Nightmares,” and “Cold Fame,” which the fans in attendance clamored for from the very beginning. Besides the last two, these songs were high energy and had the audience rocking along with them for the entirety of each song. With “Cold Fame,” Band of Skulls had their fans in a trance with the emotional journey of the highs and lows of the song. In between classics, they performed newer songs such as “So Good,” “Something,” “Embers,” “Black Magic,” and “Bodies.”
Guitarist Russell Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson delivered with their vocals on the songs, and Matt Hayward was no slouch on the drums. The audience noticed and appreciated this, chanting “Band of Skulls” at the top of their lungs until the band had to come back out for an encore. Each of them had massive grins on their faces, as even they did not expect a reception as resonating as the one they received the entire concert. After an encore of a few songs, everyone left exhilarated.
After a concert ended, there was a temporary high, but with the performance that Band of Skulls had, I would not be surprised if that high were to be permanent.