Not bad for a nobody. At least, that’s what his shirt says.
“It’s called rock n’ roll, look it up.” Words never spoken with more meaning and truth than a guy who is out living it every day. Kevin Martin, lead singer of Candlebox, coins this phrase like it was a catch phrase for a WWE wrestler. While a lot of bands get on stage and play their songs and may just say hello, he comes up and commands your attention with his voice as soon as they hit the stage. The people in the crowd who know the band and have seen them before, know that they are in for a hell of a show, and those who don’t will soon meet a band who have for 25+ years have always given 110%.
Saturday night, April 6th, and the crowd starts to shuffle in to BLK Live, in Scottsdale, AZ and head to the bar, which is on the way to the pool area and the stage, and make sure they get a good spot to see the band play. In front of the stage, the diehards try to pack in the best they can, as the pool does not give much room for people to gather in the front of it. However, everyone here is anticipating another fantastic show by one of the 90’s truest rock bands, who had two of the most requested videos of 1993 on MTV with “Far Behind” and “You “ (remember those days).
Opening the show is a band called Aeges, a rock band from L.A. Hearing the opening riffs, there is something intriguing about the sound this band is making. You can’t really place where you may have heard music like this before, but it’s there. A bit Corrosion of Conformity, a bit Toadies, there’s a sludge rock factor with some power chord elements that makes this band turn heads. As they tear through the opener “Pain”, the heavy guitars and the drums come powering in. “The Hunter”, which by far was the best song of the set, really set itself apart. A raw, crunching song that you would think was written by Pepper Keenan himself. The distortion and riffing between the two guitarists were complimentary, and the vocals really shined bright on this tune. The band then gave tribute to Nirvana by playing “Territorial Pissings”, and the crowd responded by singing along and screaming the choruses right back at them. “Parasite” brought back a reminder of Chevelle, and right after, the singer talked about how the next song, “A Reason Why”, was a song they normally did with Kevin. When the singer and guitarist, Kemble Walters, stated that Kevin would not be joining them this time, they started to play it and Kevin came up the steps, set his beer down, and grabbed the other microphone. As they sang together and took turns on parts, the crowd was cheering at this collaboration. Aeges was playing rock and roll, and they were reaching a crowd that had no idea who they were, and knew those people were there for Candlebox. However, that night, a small rock band out of L.A. had a lot of people that left that venue as Aeges fans.
The lights go dark. You hear the sliding of a radio dial. Soundgarden to Screaming Trees. Pearl Jam to Alice in Chains. We hear excerpts of songs we all know, love, and grew up on. As the guys walk up on the stage, the sold out crowd in BLK Live cheers as the lights turn on and Kevin grabs the mic and belts right into “Don’t You”, and the energy buzzes throughout the place. Walking side to side on the stage, Kevin immediately sees a couple of kids, no older than 3, on shoulders of parents. He immediately walks to one, knucklebumps this kid smiling ear to ear, then spots another, and leans way out to make sure he gets to say hello to this little boy, all the while singing. Kevin explains to the crowd that tonight they will be playing the entire self-titled album, and only one song from each of the other albums. He also jokes with the crowd that they have 5 other albums, and wants people to listen to them through whatever means necessary, be it Spotify, Pandora, or finding their CD’s.
Dave Krusen, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer, doesn’t miss a beat or fill for the evening, and makes drumming appear so easy that we all think “I could do that!” But the beauty of Dave’s playing is just that. He just glides along and makes it look simple as he dominates the kit. After flowing into “Blossom”, and talking about what “No Sense” is about (I’ll give you a hint, it’s about a green leaf), Kevin engages the crowd even more. As Kevin starts to sing “Simple Lessons”, the first track off the album “Lucy”, the crowd starts to sway and really move. The solo of the song is played by guitarist Island Styles, who rips right through it like he had been playing it since he was a child. “Stand”, which is the lead song off of Into the Sun, for those of you who do not know what the song is about, really is a spine chiller because it hits home on the way we are devastating our earth and the resources we are using at an alarming rate. To me, this was one of the two highlights of the evening musically.
A song in which Kevin gives every bit of his voice, guitarist Brian Quinn plays his solo in a style that has the crowd in front of him mesmerized. People literally stood in awe as he played it, and then just screamed and clapped with tons of enthusiasm when he finished.
“He Calls Home” was the other highlight of the evening to me. He tells the story that inspired the song. It’s about a veteran that is homeless near where Kevin lives. It is a story we have all seen, but he brings to light and touches the audience while telling his story. The unfortunate thing about the show is when some of the fans got lost on “Mother’s Dream”, a song you can tell a big part of the crowd did not know. However, a few minutes later, the first few notes for “Far Behind” start getting played, and the place erupted. If you are a new fan of the band, or have been a fan since the early 90’s, you have to appreciate what it means to see hundreds of people singing your song back to you. Adam and the guys smile behind their frontman, talking, laughing, and enjoying themselves while they play. From bringing a 15 year old boy up to wish him a happy birthday to having a 3 year old girl up next to him while singing, Kevin shows us what being grateful is all about. He loves his fans, and in return, the loyal always go see him and the boys’ every time they come. An amazing show on all levels, as they left it all on the stage and reminded us again what rock ‘n’ roll is. If you do not know, look it up.
Photos By Andrew Miller