26 YEARS LATER FINDS THE ORIGINAL CLUTCH WITH NO NEED TO REPLACE ANY PART
“BY CHERRI BIRD”
Funny thing about CLUTCH, at a glance let’s say by a promo pic, I don’t see a band that has been around since 1991 (ya, you read that correct). And in just hearing the name, I think of this band as being a staple in heavy stoner rock, not veterans of the genre for fucksake. I mean, I think this speaks more of my perception of time rather than anything to do with the band, right? That’s the funny thing about music and relating it to life. There are constants that continue to exist alongside you and all of a sudden, it’s 26 years later and you’re about to see a band which you’ve come up with help sellout a venue that holds almost 4,000.
Oddly enough, I have seen this band play to 35 or so people back in the day, and they look the same (give or take away hair and lbs). They sound the same as my memory recalls. Maybe more polished or tighter, but their overall sound is just as I remember; sludgy, low with that unmistakable groove. Ya, the one that sounds like a motown record is playing in the background of a strip club on the slow setting…you know what I’m talking about? It’s dirty but you’d still get busy with it in the corner if you felt inclined – that kinda groove.
Sunday night in Dallas, they made a stop at the SOUTH SIDE BALLROOM with PRIMUS to perform to a sold out crowd. Now, I love SOUTH SIDE BALLROOM with the various levels, the upstairs, the fact that it’s fairly easy to get in and out of, there’s a patio, and an upstairs with a stellar view of Downtown Dallas that feel like you can just reach out and grab a skyscraper. It’s a killer place until you’re there with a gazillion other people. It’s not my favorite place to watch a show because unless you’re right in front or have a front position in any of the areas to watch, you can’t see the stage at all. Well, that’s not a completely fair statement – you can if you’re tall, like almost 6 feet tall you could see. It’s also dark AF in there when only the stage lights are on (which are pretty modern and do a great job of lighting the stage). There are stair lights thankfully. Usually, there are a few places to sit down in the back, but there wasn’t for this show.
It has been a minute since I’ve seen a show there, I’ll admit. But I have in the past. For this show, the configuration of the stage was different than what I remember in the past. I don’t remember the floor by both sides of the stage being open. Both sides were blocked with movable barricades and the crowd barrier was tight up against the stage so there was virtually no true pit; just enough room for about 6 security dudes to stand between the barrier and the stage. From a fan perspective, this was cool because you could watch from stage left and stage right. But it bottlenecked one side and people couldn’t get to and from the bathrooms easily. I mention this because I think the whole aspect of a show should be represented in a review, not just the band and their performance. It’s the whole experience, right? Right.
Where CLUTCH excelled as veterans, was frontman NEIL FALLON’s ability to perform to all three sides; wherever his audience was watching, he would sing to them. I am not sure that a new band would know to do this or have the attention to detail that Neil has and I attribute that to the thousands of stages he and the band have played on. And it’s a good thing because since I couldn’t get into the pit to take a few pictures with photo credentials, all of my pictures would be from the side. And since the pics were just for this article I didn’t feel the need to climb over, risk falling down, getting stepped on or risk my gear getting damaged. I’m all about the shot – unless it’s going to cause bodily injury or harm to my gear!
The sound from all areas of the venue was pretty spot on and mixed well. I didn’t find that it was deafening or too loud. It was loud AF, but not to the point of me thinking that hour permanently damaged my hearing.
CLUTCH sounded badass too. Neil’s vocals were mixed perfectly on top and I could hear him beautifully with the band and I could hear the band beautifully with him. And beautifully metal-ly I might add. Included in their hour and 15 minute set was some new tracks that sounded killer and were a bit more punchy than some of the older CLUTCH stuff. By the time YOU CAN’T STOP PROGRESS was underway CLUTCH was in full-on rock mode and looked like they were having a blast! I loved SUCKER FOR THE WITCH, which was halfway into the set. Dallas audiences were treated with a guest appearance by Native Texan, MIKE DILLON the singer for BILLY GOAT and a member in LES CLAYPOOL’s project LES CLAYPOOL’S FANCY BAND AND GARAGE A TROIS. Joining NEIL to sing BIG NEWS ONE and D.C. SOUND ATTACK!. These two back to back went over like the froth on an over poured beer with Dallas fans.
CLUTCH put on a hell of a great show and as always the Dallas fans couldn’t get enough. Even though we know CLUTCH isn’t from Dallas or even Texas for that matter, the fans here have adopted them as such. Whether that be from the PANTERA or DAMAGE PLAN affiliation or any other metal band that is from Dallas, CLUTCH is a part of Dallas Metal and I think always will be. And this is just my personal opinion there aren’t fact to back that up, but I’m sure those facts are out there, meshed within the music of bands from Dallas.
As their set came to a close, I felt like I’d just witnessed an epitome of greatness. That by definition of Classic Rock, should be CLUTCH, but isn’t at all. I feel like CLUTCH has another 20 years of ye olde stoner rock left in them at least and that the concert I just saw was all mixed up in the Space/Time Continuum, if that makes any sense. And if I do happen to breeze through the next 20 years and bands like CLUTCH are still alongside of me, I think that seeing them then, in 20 years will be like how seeing them now should feel. Ha! Does that make sense to anyone else other than me? Eh, if not it might in another 20 years so let’s set a reminder to revisit, shall we?
Until Next Time MRML
Cherri Bird is an independent, but selective rock journalist and photographer from Dallas, Texas and an avid supporter of the Nu-Media Movement in the music industry. Co-Founder of The Bird’s Nest; a place to call home for rock journalists as well as a source for content for music outlets that support and promote rock music, for the purpose of creating a deeper connection between fans and bands. Follow her along with over 6,000 fans on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thecherribird
CHERRI BIRD / MHF Magazine