This post is like three months late. Okay, just kidding, I saw these guys last weekend and I’m writing not long since then. But I really should have seen this band earlier.
They’ve very hardcore-badass. They remind me of when I started transitioning from Queens of the Stone Age to Clutch and dabbling a bit in metal. I feel like Solhounds could cover all this ground, from hard rock, psychedelic rock, to trash metal or stoner metal. Their technical skills are obvious and quite enjoyable — everyone’s got ’em — and they bring a great element of stoic hard energy to the stage.
The bandmates that play instruments sound like they’re really on top of things. All together, they have a very refined sound. You can tell they’ve done levels a number of times and they’ve been way too fucking loud I bet a number of times, so they’ve found a way to round off the sound that saves the loudness and gruffness, but also saves the ears and keeps it just quiet enough to show nuances in tone and distinct guitar and bass sounds.
I was a bit surprised to see the guitarist taking up the least space on this stage. I mean typically guitarists are known for egos and liking attention and what not, but this guy seemed like a pure rock machine who just schooled you, no if’s and’s or but’s. He didn’t get emotional. He didn’t get worked up, or dancey, or expressive. He laid out his consistent, delicious hard rock riffs in a suitable guitar tone — something that matched and accented the bass, but without overpowering — and left it at that. You had to figure out how to deal with it.
This photo basically summarizes Solhounds stage presence. Songwriting even. Just, like, “What? Got a fuckin’ problem?” kind of thing.
And this person who leads the act really drives that point home. Elise Roller quickly became one of the most badass women in my life that night.
She sang with a grit in her throat I only expected of older folks, people who have maybe spent 15 years smoking. Or like 30. Or lots of whiskey. Or all those classic tips for getting a grungey raspy voice. But Roller sings with that same heart and rasp, but seemingly without the harshness or damage of the smokes. It’s a solid rasp, but layered over a still-full, strong, deep voice. Someone who knows how to sing with their whole body. The voice of what I imagine is the rage a strong woman in rock and roll who undoubtedly has dealt with being under-expected, assumed small or at least has had some unwanted comments thrown her way sometimes. I mean, even as a woman who simply attends stuff at bars every week, I can only imagine what it’s like as a performer.
And an incredible performer, at that. Someone who’s put a lot of work or love and care into their stage presence. Someone with a shotgun mic stand, topped off with a ship’s wheel at its base. Someone who has flawless eyebrows while she headbangs. So much energy comes out of this person on stage that I couldn’t help getting wrapped right up in it. I headbanged for the first time in years. I put my camera down. I dug into the old angsty feelings I sort of left behind with teenage years, but brought them back up again and realized the teenager me angry at all things corporate and capitalist wasn’t misplaced at all. It’s the kind of performance that you want to live up to as a listener. You want to be so wholly involved with Roller, with the band, with the vibe of Solhounds, the vicious, righteous, mischevious rock vibe.
They even had mad coordination. I swear, with the level of energy and rock badassery in this band, they deserve a staduim stage one day. I feel like they’d fit right in at Montebello Rock Fest.
What caught me most, next to Roller’s sheer talent, skill and presence, was the interplay between guitar and bass. The drums were constant, solid, fast-paced and exactly in line with the dynamic sof each song. I was seriously impressed with the physical energy it must take to play an instrument in this band with every limb on your body. As a drummer, I sort of watched in awe. Even of the drum kit itself. Absolutely beautiful.
But the way these guys write their bass/guitar pieces makes me wonder. It sounds like the guitar just rounds off the bass tone with an extra swish of finesse. Which, in rock and roll, probably looks like an extra splash of blood against a sweaty-ass white t-shirt. It kept me listening closely, watching for where the bass laid down the melody and trying oh so hard to keep up with the guitar parts to see how they fit. It seemed like the bass carried a lot of the song, a lot of the work. But I bet the guitar added a lot more than I could even notice. I mean, with the overall tone as nuanced and punctual as it was, I bet that guitar was working some magic I couldn’t quite grasp.