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Live Report: Crobot & Royal Thunder

Crobot by Christopher Harrington
Crobot by Christopher Harrington

Rolling out their road-dusted vans, retro rockers Crobot and Royal Thunder are distinct in both approach and style. These are two bands that feast on the grit and motion of the open road. Two bands that leave a magical fairy dust billowing behind them, a ‘70s charm and wizardry running through their beaten down gear and piercing formality. Both bands create moving music, and leave audiences spinning with happiness, even in dour times.

Wednesday’s St. Vitus gig saw the pair in all their ragged glory, pushing strong and spiraling amidst a quick 22 show tour. The hazy energy as both bands roamed through the crowded bar making their way to the stage was not unlike watching say, Anakin Skywalker strolling on the deck of a Star Destroyer in search of his soul. The road transforms you, and both these bands wear that transformation on their sleeves.

Royal Thunder by Christopher Harrington
Royal Thunder by Christopher Harrington

Royal Thunder opened up, and being Southern (Atlanta-based), their shtick was naturally warm and sweaty. Propulsive too. The band is adept at arranging slick patterns that gather head slowly, but surely. You’ll know it when they hit their maximum speed; it catches you in this unique, power-soul-based way, toying with your emotions, and effectively detaching you from whatever was weighing you down.

Front woman Miny Parsonz has some pipes. She is direct, steering the ship with her depth and relentless energy. You get caught up in the mounting storm, and even when you know that mighty chorus is coming up, it doesn’t disappoint. Royal Thunder plowed through its set with bluesy defiance, sparkling with punk bits and proto-metal aplomb. The band is dark, but in that sunshine-darkness Allman Brothers way. Like the Allmans, Royal Thunder are road warriors. They pour every last drop of sweat in their bodies, like a blanket of rain covering the stage.

Royal Thunder by Christopher Harrington
Royal Thunder by Christopher Harrington

Crobot seem like they’ve been playing since the early ‘70s, but they’re actually pups, having formed in 2011. They seem aged, grizzled and susceptible to psychedelic madness, playing like they just touched down on Earth from far away. The Pennsylvania-based quartet, like Royal Thunder before them, is tattooed with a natural roadmap across their spirit. Even given their relative youth, long and epic tours have transformed them into ancient visionaries on a quest.

There’s a hard-edged boogie to Crobot that the St. Vitus crowd went nuts for. Smiles as wide as the Grand Canyon abound. The happiness is genuine and contagious. There were some actual jumping jack-like bursts through the crowd. It was colorful as hell.

Brandon Yeagley, the group’s focal point, is mystical in a Jim Morrison meets Carlos Castaneda sort of way. He directs the totality of the band’s chi, refreshing in its pureness and extending in its gravity. Crobot weaved through a dense and gripping set, one with a courageous Audioslave cover and endless spins and jaunts. Some real magic happened in the dark and beautiful cave that is Saint Vitus on this night: bubbling heavy with freedom and an addictive tire smell.

Crobot by Christopher Harrington
Crobot by Christopher Harrington

Afterward, both bands got in their vans and soldiered on. There’s no stopping an endless train. Happy for New Yorkers, these passengers got off for a few hours and danced around, showing the big city some timeless resolve.

—Christopher Harrington

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