Photos by Mike Rosati // Written by Anthony Presti //
Royal Blood, a band from England that burst onto the scene in 2013, made their mark in SF by selling out Slim’s with back-to-back shows. Their sound is like a mesh of revered rockers Queens of the Stone Age, Jack White, Led Zeppelin, CKY and Muse. The one thing that sets them apart is that all their viciousness stems from two dudes playing a bass guitar and drums. Singer/bassist Mike Kerr’s tone relies on modest equipment, paired with heavily distorted bass and a “cocktail” of pedals, while drummer Ben Thatcher contributes steady and precise power drumming reminiscent of a young Dave Grohl. It’s no surprise that they’ll actually be touring with the Foo Fighters later this year.
Those lucky enough to snag a ticket for the band’s two sold-out shows were in for a treat. While there may be only two guys on stage, there was no lack of enthusiasm. On Wednesday night, Thatcher approached the stage wearing a Giants baseball cap and blasting hip-hop that got the crowd pumped. Kerr slyly stepped onto the stage and plunged into the second track from their self-titled album, “Come on Over”. It was impressive to witness such a full sound as Kerr hit notes on his bass that most the time sounded like dueling guitars. “San Francisco, make some noise! We’ll be new friends tonight,” Kerr shouted after a roaring applause and just before the duo busted into “You Can Be So Cruel”.
For such a young band, it’s impressive how many songs they have that are recognizable. Some songs sound like ones you might have heard before, but they have a knack for writing heavy tunes that carry a pulse and catchy choruses that you don’t mind getting stuck in your head. There’s a reason why they’ve been acknowledged by bands like Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters and even Jimmy Page, and it’s surely just the beginning. They know how to ignite a crowd with their banter, as Kerry gave props to the Wednesday night crowd by admitting “we played here last night, and you guys are kind of kicking their asses.”
With hard work comes reward, and the band played its entire album. Other crowd-pleasers were “Little Monster”, the blues-ridden “Figure It Out”, “Blood Hands” and its final song “Out of the Black” when Metallica’s Lars Ulrich came out and played drums while Thatcher stage dove and crowd surfed.
Come on Over
You Can Be So Cruel
Figure It Out
Ten Tonne Skeleton
Out of the Black