CLUTCH. The word itself is an integral part of any manual transmission driven vehicle. The difference in an automatic transmission vehicle and a manual transmission vehicle is that you can rev the engine much higher than an automatic. CLUTCH. The word in the rock and roll sense is a badass band from Baltimore, whose acumen for REV’ing their rock and roll motors is LEGENDARY. Having never attended a CLUTCH show before, and quizzing hardcore CLUTCH fans during the opening bands as to what I could expect, I was completely blown away.
From the opening track of the set, “Gimme The Keys” thru “The Book Of Bad Decisions” off the album of the same name, to CLUTCH’s most recognizable tune to the non-CLUTCHophite, “Electric Worry” to the encore tune “The Regulator”, CLUTCH had me hooked. As I stated earlier in this review, I am a CLUTCH neophyte but after seeing CLUTCH for the first time in my 40 years of attending concerts, it will definitely not be my last. Tunes like “In Walks Barbarella”, “A Quick Death In Texas”, “El Jefe Speaks”, and “The Mob Goes Wild” have turned this neophyte into a CLUTCH fraternity pledge. CLUTCH live is a rock and roll lovefest, and for the CLUTCH faithful in attendance at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, it was also Karaoke night. The only band I could relate to how rabid CLUTCH’s fan base is would be PRIMUS, and we all know they “suck”.
CLUTCH’s music hangs on you like sweat after working in an auto shop with no a/c after 8 hours. It’s dirty, greasy and sweaty, but it feels so good getting it on you that you don’t want to shower afterward. Taking their fans to the redline, and keeping them stuck on EVERY note of his “gravely” style voice, vocalist Neil Fallon had the crowd wanting and asking for more CLUTCH. When they asked, Fallon delivered thru a catalog that spans over eighteen years of their trademark rock and roll madness, and I was hung on every note. We were definitely “redlined” by CLUTCH, and loved every minute of it.
Direct support for CLUTCH was the hard rock outfit SEVENDUST. Lajon Witherspoon moved to the Kansas City area about ten years ago, and this show was like a homecoming for the band. Sevendust has a RABID fan base in Kansas City, and many were asking why 7D weren’t the headliner. La Jean and company BLISTERED thru their set which incited a mosh pit several times, of which I was caught in on two occasions. Kansas City LOVES Sevendust, and every Sevendust show I’ve ever seen, dating back to 2005, LJ and company have always reciprocated the love tenfold. Calling several fans in the audience out by name, and telling a story of how he met his wife at this exact venue when Sevendust was opening for Ill Nino.
Highlights of the Sevendust set were the classics “Bitch”, “Denial”, “Waffle” and the encore, “Thank You”. Sevendust did play a song off their 2018 release, All I See I War, “God Bites His Tongue”, to a raucous crowd interaction. Kansas City sees Sevendust as their “hometown” band even though they are originally from Atlanta, and you can tell as this is my fifth Sevendust show and it feels like their efforts intensify every time I see them.
The opening act, a bunch of scruffy young rock and rollers, was Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown. Based out of Nashville they showed the same kind of grit and attitude of bands much older than they are. Their bluesy, rock sound was reminiscent of some old Allman Brothers, with a little Humble Pie swagger and a chaser of Mojo Nixon. Frontman and guitarist, Tyler Bryant, shared a story of his love for the blues and learning it from a bus driver in Kansas City whose name I can’t remember, but he impacted Tyler Bryant in a way most musicians can’t.
Words by Mike Kennedy
Photos © Thomas Woroniak Photography