The Relentless Garage, London, 16 March 2011 – Old school guitar-driven rock band, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (RJA) naturally dominated The Relentless Garage in London with their first song ‘In Fates’ causing the downstairs venue to eagerly throb with excitement.
Coming to the end of their UK tour with Scottish post-hardcore band, Yashin, who deservedly attracted a large portion of the crowd, both bands certainly seem to have bonded as they each collaboratively hijacked the stage (pictured right).
RJA treated us to an array of songs from old favourites to glimpses from their recent album ‘The Hell or High Water’ all armed with the winning combination of dark emotive narrative and ‘feel good’ rock backline with sporadic metal screams.
The bands ability to pleasure a mass audience as though each song was a naughty musical favour was enticing and invigorating. A dish teasingly drip fed by the aggressive rhythm and stroked by the guitar driven flesh of each song as the audience were willingly licked by the atmospheric vocal harmonies and finally released by powerful heart stabbing lead vocals from RJA frontman, Ronnie.
In particular, Ronnie’s pitch perfect ability to indulge in Gregorian like tones, in turn with head on power and delving deep into guttural deathcore screaming was very impressive.
There is no denying that the band are tight, but bizarrely the members of RJA all seemed on completely different planets of mind throughout their performance, each member with their own character almost adding a comic book like quality to the band.
The boyish energetic enthusiasm from Ronnie was battled by the cave-like dominant stance from guitarist, Duke, who remained stern and spread himself wide as though displaying his manhood and saying “I am man”. This alongside the spaced out inward indulgence from Bass player, Joey, who had a Jarvis Cocker feel about him. Then there was the steady concentrated head down performance from lead guitarist, Matt, content in his own bubble and only breaking out for sporadic guitar solos. A combination that was backed by the guts of the band and satisfying sexually corrupt attitude of half naked and tattooed drummer, Jon, who attacked his kit and licked his drumsticks like a bulldog with a bone.
Mid-way through Ronnie’s acoustic rendition of ‘Pen & Paper’ was a welcome chilled out stop off, which took us all on a journey as though with him in a field with a few cans of beer. A scene that would suit him perfectly with his loose checked shirt, shorts and stripy socks with white pumps.
But, it was the final trio of old favourites ‘Face Down’, ‘False Pretence’ and ‘Grim’, one of the first to be written by the band, that brought the house down. A final song choice that underlined RJA’s desire to get back to their heavier rock roots and celebrate their new found independence after parting ways with Virgin Records at the beginning of last year.
Throughout the night the crowd remained shamelessly in awe of this Florida band, who took their time getting to London, and hopefully we won’t have to wait too long for our next old school head-banging, cave-man rocking, bulldog drumstick licking RJA feast.
Photography by Vicki Parker