Royal Bliss is an honorary hometown band to those of us who reside in Las Vegas, being based only a short drive down the 15 Freeway in beautiful Salt Lake City, and they often make the journey to Vegas to perform in some of our more intimate live venues. Even though I had seen them just a few months ago, in this same venue no less, I was not about to miss this show. Royal Bliss brought with them Messer from Texas, and Orange County CA rockers Joyous Wolf, as well as adding the popular local band Systemec to the bill. Four bands that I thoroughly enjoy, and did I mention that this show was free? How do you pass that up?!
Taking the stage first was the Las Vegas local band, Systemec. This was a special performance for the band as it was bassist Chuck "ChukD" Dunnum's birthday. Vocalist Paul Anthony, drummer Chris, and guitarists Halstein and Brian, all took back seat as this night was all about ChukD! Systemec's style is really all over the rock spectrum, with pop/punk songs like "Next Big Thing", followed by hard rocking jams like "Deconstruct", and then they pull out their industrial/hardcore blending with tunes like "Phenin' or "Powertrip". It's really hard to classify this band as one particular genre (and I like that fact), but one thing you can say about them - they just flat-out rock! These guys have been around for a while and seeing them live it is quite obvious, they have a very polished sound, with some very well-written lyrics, and catchy hooks. Their song "Skywind" is one of my favorites and I always look forward to hearing it live. They were a great choice to open up this night of outstanding rock music and set the stage for some serious live entertainment!
Following up our local boys was a band that I first saw perform live back in June, on a night that few of us in the local music scene will ever forget. Messer had come to Las Vegas to promote their April 2018 release of their self-titled debut album, along with the hit song "Make This Life". Unfortunately, before the first band took to the stage, social media began to blow up with the news of Hellyeah drummer Vinnie Paul's passing. Many of us, including Vinnie, had been at that same venue the previous night, and the news hit us all pretty hard. All three bands put on incredible, emotional, and intense sets for the sparse crowd that remained through the sets, and I will never forget it. But for this show it was great to see Messer again, with a better positive night to showcase their music.
For those of you unfamiliar with Messer, they are an American rock band from Dallas, and the band is comprised of front man Dereak Messer, with Javier Contreras on guitar, Donnie Deville on guitar, Maddox Messer on bass, and Kenn Youngar on drums. Although the band first formed in 2009 they have only recently begun to put out music, with two singles, "Whiskey" and "Simple Man" being released back in 2013, and their latest single "Make This Life", which came out early 2018. All three songs can be found on their self-titled debut album which I highly recommend. Messer is a great live act and they put a lot of effort into their production, with custom banners, their own backlighting, a custom drum riser with built-in lighting, and Kenn's drum kit is beautiful! Musically speaking they are very polished and tight, but also have a little fun while doing what they obviously enjoy. I really like thier debut album and am looking forward to see what comes next.
Next up was the OC rock band Joyous Wolf comprised of Nick Reese on vocals, Blake Allard on guitar, Greg Braccio on bass, and Robert Sodaro on drums. Their style is very much a modern take on classic rock, and in that vein they do a new cover of the 1970 hit "Mississippi Queen" by Mountain. Other songs of theirs, for example "Slow Hand", seem to have a bit of a Pearl Jam influence on them, but with a much faster tempo. Whatever their influences, they certainly know how to rock hard, and front man Nick Reese knows how to entertain. I was first introduced to Joyous Wolf on Shiprocked earlier this year and it took no time at all for them to make a big impression! Not only did they sound incredible, but their front man is mesmerizing, and I mean that in every sense of the word. He commands attention and hasn't the slightest difficulty in capturing it - from his wildly gyrating dances, to doing flips and splits, all without missing his lines, he is a sight to behold. Reese has had a few brushes with security in his on-stage antics, most notable his aerial acrobatics in climbing the rigging and stage sets on tour (that not always go over smoothly with the venues), but on this particular night he put it all out on stage, keeping the stage show on the ground level. Believe me, Nick Reese is worth the price of admission on his own (OK, so it was a free concert, but you know what I mean)! Do not miss seeing Joyous Wolf live, it is a great show musically and great entertainment.
The headliner Royal Bliss are a regular feature on Vegas radio KOMP 92.3's Homegrown Show, even though they are from Salt Lake City - they have a local following and real fan base in Las Vegas as well as fans that travel in. Royal Bliss is comprised of Neal Middleton (lead vocals, guitar), Taylor Richards (guitar), Jake Smith (drums), and Brian Hennesy (bass guitar), and as always when Royal Bliss plays Vegas, there was a solid contingent of out-of-town fans, some from as far as Idaho, and many from Utah. These guys have been around for a while, having first formed in 1997, and they have a solid discography with eight studio albums and a couple of EPs. Their latest EP The Truth, released in 2016, has been well-received on both rock and country charts, and shows the versatility of the band. It definitely has a strong leaning toward modern country music, but maintains its roots in southern rock with songs like "Drown With Me" (which I happen to love). Royal Bliss recently released a new music video for a song called "Hard And Loud" (see it HERE ), and this one definitely has more of a hard rock sound to it, and I'm hoping this means we will be getting a new album soon! One of the things I really enjoy about a Royal Bliss show is the lack of "rockstar" attitude from the band. These guys are so chill and down to earth, and Neal obviously loves what he does and has fun doing it, as do the rest of the guys, and they are all very approachable. Even though he was having fun (and partying pretty hard!) his vocals were on-point and he sounded amazing. I love his gritty, raspy tone and hearing him live is even better than on a recording. After the show he and the others all hung out and mingled with the crowd, and you couldn't ask for a better way to finish off the night. It was was another incredible night of live music in Las Vegas.
Royal Bliss Photos from Randy Udell / R U Rocking' Photos
Joyous Wolf Photos from Randy Udell / R U Rocking' Photos
Messer Photos from Randy Udell / R U Rocking' Photos
Systemic Photos from Randy Udell / R U Rocking' Photos