One of a kind, raw, edgy pop-rock group, The Struts, performed their pre-Lollapalooza performance Aftershow, Thursday, July 28th, midnight at the Bottom Lounge, Near West Side Chicago. As if the actual festival didn’t have enough to offer its lover-of-life fans, several music venues around the city held their own official Aftershows, featuring Lollapalooza artists. If you were looking to avoid the festival scene of young-ins wearing high-waisted bootie shorts and crop tops, you may have found yourself at one of the many Lollapalooza Aftershow venues.
The Bottom Lounge does live music really well; offbeat, hidden under the EL, just past the up-and-already-come Fulton Market, this venue has a lot to offer beside a super indie spot to take in a show. The all black walls and ceilings give the back showroom a nice and gritty hole-in-the wall feel; perfect for Rock ’n’ Roll.
Make no mistake, initially it was a Thursday night work-week-frame-of-mind crowd, tame and mostly well-behaved, seemingly bracing themselves for the craziness that was about to ensue with the upcoming Lollapalooza weekend. But it was The Struts’ Thursday night mission to snap us out of it. Those of us seeing them for the first time were welcomed to “the cool club” - our initiation task was to sing.
Theatrical from beginning to end, The Struts came out to their own dramatic grand opening: [in a British accent] “So please, come take my hand. Let's start the show. Strike up the band you all see, and the band that everybody wants, THE STRUTS!” The crowd cheered loudly.
All about edgy stage presence, and in tune with his Rock ’n’ Roll soul, lead singer Luke Spiller expresses in his dresses and sings about it in “Roll Up”: “So now, whatever I wear, it’s gotta have flare, so you people can stare.”
Let's face it, Spiller is an interesting-looking guy; be-suiting his character. He’s assuredly set himself above the normal congregation, with an in your face style. You can’t help but stare, and that’s what everybody did; all eyes were on him for the entire show and he no doubt ate it up. Bold and flaming with masculinity, he’s raw, talking about girls being “so shit-hot” in “Dirty SexyMoney”. I mean it's funny, catchy, and brash all at once. And then there’s “Kiss This”. He’s the crude guy who somehow gets away with it, as we sing and groove along without offense.
Sub-genre’d as Glam-Rock by the Rolling Stones, this description fits The Struts super well. Many of their songs have a poppy-catch, yet are hard on the rock like, “Put Your Money on Me”. Not exactly music to be pumped in the minivan with the kids, but you know they’d totally be jamming while shitting themselves in their car seats.
To me, pop and rock are not that close on the spectrum, but The Struts manage to take their catchy lyrics (as unclean as they may be) and launch them into Rock ’n’ Roll. When Spiller takes his voice to full on rock mode, it enters a whole new realm to the likes of: Rolling Stones and Mötley Crüe. Two bands The Struts actually opened up for.
Typically, it's the electric guitar that makes a rock song, but in The Struts case, it's Luke Spiller - or he at least gives the electric guitar a run for the money. His R-rr—RRRRR-aaa is almost Chewbacca-like, yet way more succinctly enunciated from the tip of his tongue. It's a Spiller stamp. Nobody can rrrrr--rrrr-rroll a tongue like that. “Chicago! Are you ready to Rr-rrrr-rrrrrock and Roll together?” Yes, please!
The Struts have had great experiences in Chicago. Last year they played 2 sold-out shows, and as Spiller stated, were some of the best shows they’ve ever played in their whole entire career. But he asked us to step up our game; “Let's make it happen tonight in Chicago”.
The crowd knows the songs. Singing along, even surprising Spiller when we shouted out “Oh YEAH” after he sung “Bet your body’s so sweet”, from “Put Your Money On Me”. He stopped the song, looked at us all shocked and said somewhat derisive, “You know it?!” We were into the show with all arms raised, super loud and competitive with the other side of the room, trying to scream the loudest as Spiller determines which side loves him more. We clap with the beat when applicable, rock with our hand-horns out, and cheer-scream in between songs. Its super evident we love their music.
I honestly cannot think of any band that has done for me what The Struts do for me. Anyone who can make albums of body moving, sing along pop, with ballsy edge, and a decent life message, have definitely set themselves apart in this day and age of sometimes way too safe music. The Struts provide catchy, upbeat, feel good, pop-rock, with chorus that sticks in your mind and excellent guitar riff fringe.
Bookmarked by super wholesome-looking electric & bass guitars, backed by a hardworking drummer, the audacious Luke Spiller wears an eclectic jacket with silver shoulder dangles and the words Rock ’n’ Roll sequined on back. He changes mid-show into more sequins (black & gold), then again into a more flowy black and red kimono to allow himself opportunity to cool down. He gets super sweaty for us. Luke is eccentric: dark long hair and bangs, leather pants. His respectable bandmates definitely make him seem more human-like.
Spiller controls the crowd. He succeeded in allowing everyone to GET DOWN. Literally….everyone, except those with pacemakers and broken hips, were instructed to get down on the floor to their knees. WE ALL GOT DOWN…even the last one standing, who eventually felt too awkward being the only one. Building our anticipation to jump up, he asked “Are you ready to shake your hips? Are you ready to sing with your lips?”
Full of antics, The Struts play their own version of Simon says with the crowd throughout the show. During “Put Your Money On Me” he provided instructions: “Turn to the person to your left, and I want you to say ‘let's dance baby’. I want you to turn to the person to your right and squeeze them on the ass and I want you to say ‘let's groove baby”.
Experiencing The Struts live is a must; it's most definitely entertaining. These English rockers bloody love the crowd and we clap our filthy hands together for them. The Struts embrace Rock ’n' Roll, but they can’t help but pump out catchy rhymed pop tunes. Luke Spiller is a rock star.
Approaching curfew, Spiller announces: “They can turn out the power in 15 minutes but they cannot stop me from doing an outfit change.” And with that, he ducks backstage to don a new garment while Adam Slack rocks us out to his electric guitar. Eventually the fashionista returns and asks, “Do you like my outfit?”
By the end of the concert, the Thursday night crowd was transformed into Lollapalooza monsters released to properly rock Chicago.
Edgy music, clever-sassy-sexy rhymed lyrics, and an unmistakable rr-rr-rock sound. This concert was one that left you feeling so much cooler than what you did when you walked in. The Struts, thanks for planting one on Chicago and inducting me into the cool club. We’ll see you next time you rr-rr-roll on through Chicago.
Official Lollapalooza Aftershow
Canadian band The Arkells opened.
Set length: nearly seventy-five minutes
"I Just Know" intro
"These Times Are Changing"
"I Don't Fear You"
"The Ol' Switcheroo"
"Dirty Sexy Money"
"Let's Make This Happen Tonight"
"Put Your Money On Me"
Adam Slack lead guitar solo
"Where Did She Go"