Monday, January 28, 2008


Valient Thorr
The Soapbox
Wilmington, NC
November 18, 2007

Enough time has passed since the passing of James Brown that the moniker ‘The Hardest Working Man in Show Business’ can be passed down to, or rather, extrapolated to a band. Valient Thorr, given their performances and constant touring schedule, makes them a shoe-in for the title. Valient Thorr is a hard rock band that blends high energy rock and roll with funk, soul and old testament vocal power.
A recent stop at The Soapbox in Wilmington, NC illustrated once again their ability to rip a stage apart, unleashing relentless and meaningful hard rock. The show was nothing short of a musical bomb going off. Their grinding sound, interrupted by well timed, punctuated breaks and hard driving guitar runs, was laced with social commentary by a lead singer whose passion was akin to a fire and brimstone preacher.
Before the set band members ran into old friends and smiled profusely as they caught up by the doorway. Valient Thorr’s lead singer and bassist carried a keg bucket full of beers and ice across a worn hard wood floor to the stage. Within moments the band got started, introducing a new song – one of three new songs played during the evening. One was ‘Parallel Daedulus,’ the singer told the crowd was “about friends you haven’t seen in a while.” He called out his friend’s names and handed beers into the audience.
Two songs in and the singer stopped to talk, something he’s known to do between numbers. Like a preacher, he stalked the stage and testified to the crowd. He moved in short distances, panther like, ending thoughts with scorched syllables. The mood is playful, yet sincere. He’s eager to turn up the heat but its Sunday and the weekend affords a more laid back night of kicking out the jams.
“Thank you for coming out. I know you could be home on Sunday night watching cartoons,” the singer says, “but you can Tivo it.”
That said the band gets into ‘Heatseeker.’ Their guitarist plays feverishly at stage right, plying guitar notes seemingly without effort and gripping the guitar like a machine gun. The bassist stands tall and rocks back and forth, towering like Grendel with a mop of black curly hair at the lip of the stage.
Between songs there’s a technical glitch and the singer asks about a guy from the last show they played at the Soapbox who got the Valient Thorr logo tattooed on his ass.
“Where’s the guy with the ass tattoo?” he said. Someone from the audience said he’s in Wilmington just not at the show tonight. “We got to get his phone number. Catch up after the show.”
The remainder of the show continually built with tension, climbing and climbing without any foreseeable climax. They finish with material from Total Universe Man, songs whose funk metal bravado nearly shook the place apart, like holding tight as a car careens out of control. It began with ‘Hijackers’ and ‘We Believe in Science’ led into ‘Tough Customer’ for an exhausting finish. Afterwards, the band stood by the stage speakers and talked with fans, the singer still gripping a microphone.

- photo & story Brian Tucker

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