The age old idea of a “quick rise to fame” is something that stirs up a range of reactions, depending on the context in which said outcome is posed. Reality TV-induced overnight fame is one thing, YouTube overnight fame is another. Beyond those, there is also a quickness of fame that sits squarely in the context of music popularity, evident when the name of a band suddenly seems to appear everywhere a person turns. The latter of these sources of fame is not always overnight in the literal sense but with the volatility of the music industry and the fickleness of public taste and attention, seeing a band penetrating every avenue of press and increasingly becoming a mainstream name, all in less than a year, is no “slow grower” in today’s business.
Riff-powered rockers, Royal Blood, have managed to do just that, far away from their home base of Brighton, UK; climbing the proverbial performance ladder from blasting the scattered stages of SXSW, to intimate shows at places like Brooklyn’s iconic Glasslands Gallery, to having major press and TV appearances like their recent guest performance on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher, the solidly stacked power duo that is Royal Blood, are not shying away from their multi-pronged rise to fame happening both here in the U.S. and five-fold more so, closer to home in the EU, where they are gaining so much traction, so fast, that amidst selling tickets for remaining 2014 performances, they decided to upgrade shows to larger venues in some places, “[d]ue to public demand”, as explained via their Facebook page. Even more recently, MTV announced the pair as one of the performances slated to appear at the MTV EMAs on 9 November.
Now, what typically happens when a band starts to gain more high profile attention and receive booking slots for larger capacity venues?
- Higher ticket prices
- More distance between fans and the artist (figuratively and literally)
Forced to choose between the accolades of being big and the charm of being small —Royal Blood was having none of that during their show last night in the Marlin Room of New York City’s Webster Hall. A room of only 500 person capacity, this show already flies in the face of where Royal Blood are on the global music industry’s radar. Webster Hall might be “big by default” because of musically historical context but given other circumstances, Royal Blood could have easily upgraded to the larger Grand Ballroom space and that would have matched the other large scale points of their current reputation. The smaller and barrier-less space inside the Marlin Room already made this show feel like one of a particular rare grade. Then, to have the price for admission reflect a dollar amount that was anything but corporately inflated, implying instead, a vibe of “We’re still local enough to not break your banks on our tickets,” solidly put the experience under the umbrella of “This will never happen in this way, ever again.
Past logistics of show setup, Royal Blood’s actual performance simply hammered home the true uniqueness of the duo, even if a lot of the press the band has acquired focuses on the very prominent channeling of their influencing predecessors like Led Zeppelin, Muse and the White Stripes. Thatcher and Kerr are able to unquestionably stand with the likes of bands that sound just as good live as they do on studio recordings and, this is not just due to the fact that there is only two of them; implying quality only as a result of there being not much stuff with which to mess up. (which would be a gross misrepresentation of the pair’s musical ability and collaborative chemistry.) Every strummed, distorted, POG‘ed bass chord and every sharp-as-knives snare hit lifted with ease, the stampede-sized sound cranked out within the confines of pristine studio space.
Gratitude and a few calls for revved up excitement were certainly strewn throughout but, other than that, everyone involved was focused on just setting up, counting off and playing passionately through; not hanging onto filler dialogue. Approaching a live show this way might feel like a shortcoming to some but in a lot of ways, it instead can translate to mean that the music is strong enough to hold audience attention and that everyone just wants to hear the next song rather than a personal anecdote.
That’s not to say Kerr and Thatcher did not know how to keep things interesting.
You can check out more about Royal Blood’s tour mates, Kan Wakan, on their official website, as well as these social media outlets: