Rival Sons Rock the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco

Rival Sons Rock the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco

in SF Concert Reviews by

There was time when San Francisco was considered a mecca for rock ’n’ roll. Clubs like the Fillmore used to light up the sky and shake the night from the boomy drums and electric guitars of bands like Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Those days are long gone, but luckily for the ones that made their way out on a Monday night to the Regency Ballroom in San Francisco, they got a taste of what it must have been like to be there. The band playing was Rival Sons, and with a perfect mix of screeching vocals, loud guitars and thunderous drums they’ve made up a sound that is entirely their own, which has catapulted them the top of the rock charts. Last night, the boys brought the house down in what will forever be remembered as an epic evening of great classic rock.

Rival Sons was formed back in 2008 and play rock the way it’s meant to be played. Although the quartet is still relatively new, and much like a fine wine needs time to mature, a few more years on the road for these guys will definitely prove to push them over the top. An interesting tidbit about the group is that even though major U.S. labels courted them for years, they decided to go with a British metal label instead. Maybe they felt that U.S. labels aren’t pushing their brand of blues guitar-driven type of rock enough. Who knows? But one thing’s for sure, their current releases to date are of equal quality to their musical influences, which include classics like Led Zeppelin, Guns N’ Roses and the Black Crows, but also more current lo-fi rock duo acts like The White Stripes and The Black Keys.

The band recently announced that they’d be going out on the road as the main support to Black Sabbath for what will be the heavy metal icons’ final world tour. About the tour Rival Sons lead singer Jay Buchanan said in a press release: “To have this opportunity is at first unfathomable and then flattering to know we’ll be in company with these bonfire legends each night. Thank you Black Sabbath.”

Last night’s gig must have served as a warm up gig for the Sabbath shows, but also as proof that they were worthy of the honor. The evening was sweaty, smoky, and reminiscent of 60s and 70s marathon concerts where music used to mean something. Rival Sons strung together heavy riff-rock song after the next with “Electric Man”, “Secret” and “Gypsy Heart.” They slowed things down for a bit with “Where I’ve Been” then followed it up with “Open My Eyes”, which begins with a groovy intro consisting of flanger-distorted boomy drums, reminiscent of the great John Bonham.

And this is what makes Rival Sons so unique, they’re able to pull from a variety of artists and sounds, both classic but also current at the same time, by combining their unique timeless style and coupling it with the sound of past rock icons. The reason it works is because the band manages to push through with a fresh, original sound and a live set driven by power, stage presence and great songs. For fans of the genre it couldn’t come at a better time.

Set List

1. Electric Man
2. Secret
3. Gypsy Heart
4. Torture
5. Where I’ve Been
6. Open My Eyes
7. Keep on Swinging

Photo by Louis Raphael

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.