King’s X – Arcada Theatre, St. Charles, IL

June 24, 2016

Words & Photos by Tom Leu ||

King’s X is more than a band; it’s an institution… For nearly 40 years, they’ve been one of the most consistent and brilliant hard rock acts out there. Ask just about any musician, known or unknown, and they’ll echo this sentiment. And at the risk of sounding cliché, quite simply, they are legends to their legions of devoted fans of “the first church of rock and roll.” Read any comment thread on social media after a King’s X show and you quickly see the universal and unanimous adulation from adoring fans anywhere in the world.  And it’s well-deserved. I’ve been following the band since their debut in the late 1980’s. Why these guys never became huge is a mystery, but that’s been written about ad nauseam over the years.  Those in-the-know, know the deal about King’s X… excellent songs, excellent playing, excellent people and hugely influential. What else is there?

King's XThe band’s 15 song set at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL on June 24th included several of their requisite “hits” including “Groove Machine,” “The World Around Me,” “Pillow,” “Flies & Blue Skies,” “A Box,” “Over and Over,” “Pleiades,” and the popular live staple “Over My Head,” among others. The encore included the venerable tracks “Dogman,” along with the crowd-closer “Goldilox,” of which the band doesn’t sing a note. The audience knows every word and sings it out loud while bassist and lead vocalist dUg Pinnick, guitarist Ty Tabor, and drummer Jerry Gaskill play along as their back-up band. It’s one of those times when you really appreciate the special relationship that can exist between band and audience. Not to overstate, but it truly is a transcendent experience that makes you wish you could be onstage and have a moment like that as a performer at least once.

King’s X has been called a “cult status” band. But this definition doesn’t fully fit. The definition of cult is “a religious or social group with socially deviant or novel beliefs and practices.” King’s X is definitely a novel form of “religion,” meant in the best possible way, but hardly deviant except for the fact that huge audiences have never really found the band. This is one cult I’m glad to be a part of…

Kings of Spade

Kings of Spade

Kings of Spade from Honolulu, HI warmed up the King’s X crowd and thoroughly impressed everyone who showed up early enough to check them out. You know how it is with relatively unknown opening acts, there’s often an internal dialogue and debate happening on whether or not you want to invest the time to see them. I’m glad I did with Kings of Spade. Their catchy, funky-pop sound mixed with soaring vocals and a heavy edge keeps you tuned-in and wondering what’s next. There’s melody, tight playing, and personality present. There’s also an undeniable humility and charm exuding from vocalist, Kasi Nunes, that really helps sell the band to newcomers. I’ll be interested to see how this band progresses and evolves as it continues to gain momentum and experience.

The first act on the bill, a local area trio called Riddle House, were memorable in that they played a fusion of aggressive-progressive-metal-instrumental music. You don’t see too many instrumental hard rock/metal acts these days; and while not my personal cup of tea, these guys played well, and pleased their contingent of enthusiastic fans that came out early to support them.

King's XIf I’m being honest, I’m glad King’s X shows aren’t packed with thousands of people. It re-confirms the intimacy of the shows, and makes me feel good about continuing to follow and support this band when I know so many other “music fans” out there are missing out. Me, and the others in attendance, get just how great these guys are, and have been from the start. This is a common, if largely unspoken bond that exists between all die-hard fans at King’s X gigs. Toward the end of the show, dUg said about his band mates: “we love each other as much as we hate each other sometimes, but we’ll never break up.” Thank goodness… The world needs a band like King’s X; always has…

King’s X:
Kings of Spade:
Riddle House:
Aracda Theatre:

Photos by Tom Leu ||

Photos by Tom Leu ||

About Author

Tommy Leu is a rock journalist & commentator, concert photographer, media personality, & professional speaker from Rockford, IL. His writings, images, interviews, & seminars uncover layers within music, culture, & communications. >> 16IMAGING Photography >> ROCK22