Photos / Review: Blacktop Mojo brings Texas heat to chilly New York

Who:”Where The Wind Blows” Tour – Blacktop Mojo

Where: Spookhill Bar & Grill, Adams, New York

When: August 26, 2017

I’ve been a fan of Blacktop Mojo’s since I found their cover of “Dream On” on their YouTube channel (if you haven’t watched it yet, you need to – it’s really good). I love their latest album Burn The Ships and was waiting for them to have a tour stop near me. Unfortunately, they didn’t, but they did have a date at a location on the way to my vacation, so I figured I might as well stop by and catch their set.

The show took place at Spookhill Bar & Grill in Adams, NY, which was the most beautiful venue I have ever been to. The set took place outside, which I was a little hesitant with because I was sure the quality of the sound was not going to be good, the lights were not the best and it got pretty chilly by the time Blacktop Mojo went on. The whole thing could have been a recipe for disaster.

The first thing that stood out to me right away was the opening of the set; they didn’t have some fancy or annoying intro where they play some ridiculous song that goes on and on while they all huddle in the corner – in clear view of the audience – trying to come in like they’re big rock stars (you know what I’m talking about). Their intro was simple; as soon as they were ready and set up, the show started, which I really liked. Something else that stood out to me was work ethic. The band had been milling around and chatting with everyone at the venue before they went on; they were joking and not taking themselves too seriously. However, as soon as it was time for them to work, they immediately focused on what they were doing and took it very seriously; it wasn’t a game. These guys were there to work and you could tell.

So how was the show itself? REALLY GOOD. Drummer Nathan Gillis was the most composed drummer I’ve ever seen on stage – they’re usually making all kinds of crazy faces and moves – but he was extremely strong. Every single beat was on point. When he needed to be softer, he did it perfectly, as well as when he needed to hit harder. Bassist Catt Murtis was extremely charismatic without being overwhelming. Bass players are really underrated; he kept the rhythm right on point and provided that contrast that you need from the higher-pitched guitars perfectly. Guitarists Kenneth Irwin and Ryan Kiefer were a dream team. Irwin was more reserved, sticking in the shadows, but there’s a reason they say to watch out for the quiet ones; he handled his instrument like a seasoned pro. Kiefer, on the other hand, was not quiet at all. Watching him perform actually reminded me of the way Mark Tremonti performs; he had similar stances, the fingers moved lightning fast, and he even made similar facial expressions (every Tremonster fan knows what I’m talking about). Frontman and lead vocalist Matt James is one of the best frontmen that I have ever seen live. His voice is unique and he hit every single note right on the nose, whether it was soft or loud or high or low. On top of that, he managed to interact with every single person in the audience. He really made you want to be right in the front row.

Blacktop Mojo amazes me because they’re one of the very few bands I’ve seen who actually seem to remember that every single member of the band is important; there are no onstage power struggles. Each member works with every other member to create the best sound. Despite my worries, they sounded on point the entire time; I didn’t hear one sour note their whole set. The lights? Nobody cared. The chilly weather? The music warmed everyone up. The set list included some of my favorites like “Where The Wind Blows,” “Trouble On The Rise,” and of course “Dream On.” Each song was executed just like every other song, which is to say perfectly.

The real critique of this show actually comes from my sister. She’s very particular about her music, but she loved their set. She even liked them on Facebook, so you know they were good.

Blacktop Mojo’s stop at the Spookhill Bar & Grill was actually a free show, but don’t expect many more free shows from these guys. They’re going to be headlining and selling out arenas in no time. And I will be at as many future shows as I can.

Post and photos by Karen Shalev

Did you attend this tour? Comment below.

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