By Laura Tsu //
Johnny Stevens, Rich Meyer and Ryan Meyer of Highly Suspect left Cape Cod, Mass., in 2011 for opportunity and bustle in Brooklyn. Since their relocation, Highly Suspect have recorded two EPs and one full-length album, Mister Asylum, which they acknowledge as their heaviest-sounding release yet.
Mister Asylum propelled the group to this year’s Grammy Awards, where they were nominated for “Best Rock Album” and “Best Rock Song.” Currently, they are on tour until mid-November building anticipation for their new LP The Boy Who Died Wolf, which is scheduled for release November 18th. After performing at Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas in addition to dates in Los Angeles and San Diego, they stopped in SF for a show at The Independent last Friday.
A late addition to the bill, SF natives Annie Girl and The Flight kicked off the show with some garage-rock/folk-rock tunes. Shortly after beginning though, Josh Pollock’s guitar strap broke abruptly and he had to balance his guitar on his leg. Nevertheless, the set continued and the band delivered song after song with influences ranging from psychedelic rock to punk. In the meantime, frontwoman Annie Lipetz’s vocals — soft, raspy (at times) and ineffably endearing — also amplified their live set, and she mentioned that a new album would be out soon.
Fairy Bones, performing after Annie Girl and The Flight, stepped up for the third performance of their tour supporting Highly Suspect. After making a bold impression opening for the trio in September, the quartet from Phoenix were offered the assignment once again for the West Coast leg of Highly Suspect’s national tour. Fairy Bones’ intrepid vocals, rapid guitar riffs and cadent drumming created catchy, uptempo songs that some might label as “alternative rock.” Toward the end of their set, they also performed a cover of “Nightshift” by The Commodores.
By 11 p.m., the crowd at The Independent was thick with anticipation for Highly Suspect. Once the lights dimmed and “Pick Up the Phone” by Young Thug and Travis Scott began to play over the PA system, the three-piece finally stepped onstage. Stevens carried a bottle of tequila with him and took a swig right as he settled down in front of the mic. Then, Highly Suspect’s aggressive drumming and angsty vocals shook from the speakers. With plenty of pace and powerful chord progressions, crowd movement came naturally and didn’t cease. Highly Suspect appealed to the crowd’s appetite to dance, hear heavy riffs and ultimately witness one hell of a live performance.