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The Temperance Movement @ Underground Arts with The Stone Foxes.

July 27, 2016

Temperance Movement-14Text by Scott Bailey. Images by Ed Schick.

Rock might not be dead but you could argue that it smells funny. It’s more difficult to find, given all of the choices available in this Spotify/iTunes/YouTube world. But it’s out there.

Last week, Underground Arts hosted two bands that are working hard to make their statement that rock is alive and well. The Stone Foxes supported The Temperance Movement on a hot July night in the city, and the fans who attended were rewarded with an old-school rock show. No frills, no synthesizers, no Autotune. Just loud, ballsy guitars and gritty singers with a little attitude.

San Francisco’s The Stone Foxes got the night started with 45 minutes of fun. Playing a set that featured songs from their four-album career, they got the crowd warmed up with “Everybody Knows,” a blues-rock number from their 2013 album, Small Fires.

Featuring a greasy guitar riff from Ben Andrews, lead singer Shannon Koehler quickly got the joint moving with powerful vocals and harmonica. From there, the multi-talented band loosened up and began demonstrating their versatility: Koehler singing, playing a mean blues harp, and drumming up a storm; brother Spence Koehler playing rhythm guitar, bass and singing lead; Ben Andrews playing funky lead riffs and taking a surprisingly sweet solo on violin at one point. All the while, Elliot Peltzman held it all together playing an authentic Fender Rhodes organ (i.e. not a keyboard patch or iPad sound sample) and Vince Dewald provided the bottom end with his groovy Fender P-bass. Drummer Brian Bakalian rounded out the band’s sound with powerful drums that drove the band’s rhythms and kept the crowd moving. By the time

By the time the Foxes got to their most recognizable tune, a cover of Slim Harpo’s “I’m a King Bee,” the band was covered in sweat and the crowd was loose and loud.

The Foxes were the opener for this show but they clearly can hold their own on-stage. They very quickly and convincingly won over a crowd that was there to see the headliner, The Temperance Movement.

The Temperance Movement hit the stage to the guitar riff from “Battle Lines,” off of their new album, White Bear. Vocalist Phil Campbell grabbed the microphone and began to snarl out the opening lyrics with a swagger that was reminiscent of Faces-era Rod Stewart. You could literally feel the air move as Damon Wilson pounded out the beat. And when Nick Fyffe joined in on bass, you couldn’t help but tap your foot, shake a leg or move your hips.

From there, it was a non-stop onslaught of blues-rock. No stage chatter, no cajoling the audience, no let-down. Just an in-your-face rip through 15 songs, including all but two from their current release. Playing to an enthusiastic crowd that sang along to every song and was clearly enjoying themselves, TTM came back out and played “Serenity” for their encore.

If, as was argued at the time, The Black Crowes were attempting to bring English blues-influenced rock like that of the Faces, The Rolling Stones and Humble Pie back to the United States, then you could definitely say that Scotland’s The Temperance Movement is stealing it back. The band has that tight-but-loose feel that makes it clear that they’re a well-oiled machine but that danger lurks ahead. Guitarists Paul Sayer and Matt White complement each other like brothers, never getting in each other’s way and bringing different approaches to the table. Add their rootsy edge to bassist Fyffe’s funk -drawn from playing with Jamiroquai – and you get a unique, rhythm-driven sound that gives Phil Campbell plenty of room to work with. Veteran drummer Damon Wilson isn’t flashy, but brings power on every song and pushes the band’s energy.

Campbell is a compelling front man. A gravelly rasp that channels both the aforementioned Rod Stewart and the late singer from Stone Temple Pilots, Scott Weiland, with attitude and moves like Jagger that Adam Levine could only dream of. It’s relatively easy to categorize this band as a roots-revival 60s rock band but that would ignore the modern edge that they bring to their music and show. Their no-frills presentation won’t work for every act but they have the talent and stage presence to entertain an audience and get them on their feet.

Tho show made it apparent that rock clearly isn’t dead. It’s alive and well at venues like Underground Arts. You may not hear it on the radio like we once did, but bands like The Stone Foxes and The Temperance Movement are making sure that a generation that expects light shows and costume changes understands that a tight band with attitude are all you need to captivate an audience.

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