Army of AnyoneTo say that Richard Patrick is a great performer would be an understatement. The ex-Filter mainman is a rock n’ roll frontman of the highest order. Put him together with one of the best songwriting brothers-duos of all-time, ex-Stone Temple Pilots bassist and guitarist Rob and Dean DeLeo, and what you get on stage is something truly electric. Road-dog drummer Ray Luzier, the least known of the quartet, put on an impressive performance behind the kit to make for an awesome stage show so polished that you’d swear these guys had toured the world countless times… oh wait. And so it was that a new band with familiar names, Army of Anyone, rocked the hell out of New York’s Bowery Ballroom on Thursday night in front of a very appreciative crowd. Alterna-rock buzz band Hurt did a surprisingly stellar job priming the audience as well.

I take back everything bad I said about Hurt when I saw them open for Alice in Chains at the Nokia Theater this past fall; chalk it up, perhaps, to the Nokia’s stage just being a tad too big for these newcomers to amply fill, and to the overwhelming anticipation of seeing Alice in Chains next. Last night this band just plain rocked. The sound was stellar, the light show matched, and the performance was blistering. Clearly Capitol Records is trying to market this band to fans of dark ’90s alternative rock, and judging by the response of last night’s audience I’d have to say it’s working pretty well. Hurt combines dark guitar elements of grunge-metal bands such as Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Filter with atmospheric passages and climactic builds reminiscent of Tool; frontman J. Loren’s vocals and stage persona are often a deadringer for Maynard’s, but don’t let that deter you; when was the last time you saw Maynard whip out a violin, play it with dazzling precision while singing, and then proceed to rock the fuck out whilst playing atop of a stack of speaker cabinets, all while the band built to an epic crescendo to end their set?

Following a brief setup time, the lights went dim for Army of Anyone and the audience went nuts — clearly these were people who were big fans of Filter and STP, but there was also a solid core who have the Army of Anyone record and were ready to see what the band had to offer live. This author had never seen Filter live; consequently this author was blown away by Richard Patrick’s stage presence from the very first note of the show (and album) opener “It Doesn’t Seem to Matter.” Patrick stormed the stage and immediately took command of the audience, wriggling and gyrating about like the best of them while delivering his signature tenor vocal. Patrick’s stage presence is, I’m sure to no coincidence, reminiscent of the DeLeo’s ex-frontman Scott Weiland, minus the glam stylings. He possesses the macho bravado of only a very elite class of lead singer. Vocally Patrick was right on cue, delivering his high-pitched wails with striking precision, drenched in huge helpings of delay and reverb.

Rob and Dean DeLeo are no strangers to the stage either, Rob attacking his lowly-slung bass with the ferocity of a gorilla but the cool of a cat, and Dean with his Jimmy Page rock swagger. Rob DeLeo is one my favorite bassists of all-time; his epic ascending bass runs and ingenius progressions are unique only to Rob DeLeo. Dean’s nod to guitar hero Page was displayed in an artful instrumental rendition of a good 3 or 4 minute chunk of Led Zepelin’s “Ten Years Gone,” during which Patrick left the stage and let the other three members jam it out. Dean’s guitar wizardly was displayed throughout, as the band allowed him plenty of time to solo. It was so cool to see these guys on a club stage instead of an arena, but in retrospect it hasn’t been all that long since these guys have hit the club circuit. Those around in the late ’90s will remember the DeLeos brief side project Talk Show did a club tour in the late ’90s, during Weiland’s temporary exit from STP following Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop.

Ray Luzier was quite a showman behind the kit, tossing sticks up in the air, doing twirls and stick flips, and all sorts of other visual trickery that makes watching good drummers fun. His performance was impeccable; he hits hard and accurately with just the right touch of finesse, and he never missed a beat. All told, this made for an incredibly tight band of rock vets that was in lock-step all night long. The band was at their best on the faster and midtempo numbers from the Army of Anyone disc, with the DeLeos riffing in perfect groove and Patrick moving about the stage in his frenetic yet graceful manner. The band, and the audience, seemed to lose a bit of their attention during the slower numbers, but these were interspersed throughout the set so as to always keep the energy level high. The only awkward moment of the night came during an impromptu jam between songs, when the DeLeos and Luzier went on a funky tangent, and Patrick seemed like he didn’t quite know what to do with himself in the meantime (he chose to stay on stage and throw water bottles into the audience).

A highlight of the show came during the song “Disappear,” when Patrick grabbed a digital camera from a girl in the front row and brought it up on stage with him. After filming himself singing and the band playing for about a minute, the song came to a close and he handed the camera back to the now ecstaticly screaming girl, proclaiming “you can put THAT on YouTube now!”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://youtube.com/v/PFFOvmhj0vo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

For all the fanfare made of this being a supergroup, I was so excited about the Army of Anyone material that I had actually forgotten they would be playing Stone Temple Pilots and Filter songs until they launched into the first of them, with the guitar feedback that introduces STP’s “Vaseline.” The other STP selections were both excellent choices for this group of musicians, but were slightly more off-the-beaten-path numbers; “Big Bang Baby” and “Piece of Pie.” Patrick did a fine job delivering, without trying to sound too much like Weiland. The audience delighted in these numbers, but not quite as much as they delighted in the Filter songs. For these, they stuck to the hits, “Take a Picture,” “Welcome to the Fold,” and “Hey Man Nice Shot.” All the energy was there; the band seemed to revel in playing these songs as much as Patrick did, although watching the finger-purist Rob DeLeo play his bass with a pick for “Hey Man Nice Shot” was pretty weird.

The band left the stage to much applause, with an encore obviously imminent because they hadn’t yet played their hit single “Goodbye.” Patrick announced that “Goodbye” is #1 at rock radio, though a little research dug up that it’s actually #8 this week at Active Rock radio, according to the chart at radioandrecords.com. The band came back to perform a B-Side, which I could have done without at this point, and then rounded out the night with their hit before departing with various bows, high-fives, and drum sticks thrown into the audience.

All in all this way a fine night and a great concert. Both Patrick and Rob DeLeo remarked at various points throughout the show that it was great to be playing in New York City where the fans were so appreciative, and that it could only go downhill form here. This begs the question; what have the rest of the shows on this tour been like? A quick look the itinerary shows venues at about the same size as the Bowery Ballroom. Has this band been struggling to fill rooms? Are the audiences perhaps only coming to hear the STP and Filter hits? Whatever the case, this band rocks and you should go see them when they play in your city. Buy the album too, while you’re at it.


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