Review & Photos | J. Roddy Walston and the Business | Philadelphia

Words & Images By: Jake Krolick
J Roddy Walston and The Business :: 11.6.13 :: Union Transfer :: Philadelphia, PA

Check out Jake's full review after the gallery!

It’s not easy to toss around accolades like rock god, but I think an exception can be made in the case of J. Roddy Walston, who sent a pretty fucking clear message across our bows at his past tour stop in Philadelphia. He and the band should be bestowed much higher status with their latest release Essential Tremors and their must-see live shows. Whether they were sent to us from the almighty or not, J. Roddy Walston & The Business rocked us religiously. They stirred up our animal natures and made us holler with delight for hair flips and massive guitar and piano built songs.

The band barely paused to breathe and never let up their stranglehold on the Philly crowd by following each soulful frantic tune with another as they rocked Union Transfer. Those four musicians had enough magic juice to pull us out of a dark hangover and then send us careening over the edge again with the same sauce that had put us there. J. Roddy Walston was a musician possessed and seeing him perform was like watching Jim James, ala My Morning Jacket, mixed with Dr. Dog’s Toby Leaman while they both peaked on an acid trip. Yes, Walston’s that scary good of a performer. Although I know he can’t help himself with some of his quaking and shaking due to a nervous-system disorder, the band's front man clearly has embraced it and is slaying rock shows everywhere.

Walston & The Business began the set with the fist pumping banger “I Don’t Wanna Hear it” off their self-titled sophomore album. With Walston starting on the guitar, he and the band never looked back, cherry picking a feel good setlist filled with only the choicest cuts from their three albums. He moved to the piano and walked the band right through “Don’t Break the Needle” with a comfortable bounce on the keys that harkened back to an earlier era. Walston sat behind a veil of hair as he kept time his rocking stool. The crowd lost control and enveloped the stage with a wild floor undercurrent. Smoke wafted up to the rafters in billowing puffs as the band dug in deep with building riffs from guitarist Billy Gordon, a deepening pocket from bassist Logan Davis and drummer Steve Colmus’s driving beats. Walston led the band directly into one of the meatiest tracks off of the new album, "Heavy Bells."

Walston, all hot and bothered on the guitar, fired the song up on all cylinders immediately, forgoing the album version’s breezy beginnings. Instead he injected the song with a healthy dose of potent southern punk and a blistering chorus that threatened to rip Walston's scruffy vocals right open. The latest album's tunes already had a worn warm quality evident in Walston’s unbridled spirit that carried through every wail on his guitar. We caught our breaths for a second when Walston slowed to sing the intro of “Brave Man’s Death” with a proud poignancy. It didn’t last long as he brought the song to a raging level as he hand hammered notes on the piano. J. Roddy just laughed as he tweaked the buttons that controlled our wild animalistic emotions. The live version of “Marigold” was an endlessly shifting romp from snarling, stomping drums and keys to Davis’s warm and soulful bass. It was an absolute pleasure watching Walston and the band pour their souls into the live show. For someone who references his nervous disorder within this new album more openly, it doesn’t slow Walston down. He is a testament to all things holy in Rock and Roll who clearly owns his condition and turns it into passion on stage. J. Roddy Walston & The Business represent a band that have as much chops and commitment from start to finish as any band out there. Lovers of live music should see them live ASAP.

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[Published on: 11/11/13]

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