Naked and Afraid. Power duo The London Souls may be exposed and naked on stage, expected to deliver a rock show relying only on each other, but they are clearly not afraid. Sunday night they treated a modest but appreciative crowd to a free show in Crystal Bay Casino’s Red Room that surely left an indelible imprint in the music memory of those in attendance.
Reno-Tahoe has had an epic run this winter chock full of some of the best jam band, funk, and bluegrass acts the music world has to offer. Chris St. Hilaire (drums/vocals) and Tash Neal (guitar/vocals) were a breath of fresh, and at the same time howling raunchy air, delivering tune after tune with punch, edge and creativity. Their style and performance isn’t about the cosmic free love vibe we’re so used to at 6,000 feet. Reading between the lines for hidden meaning and message isn’t necessary. This a straight in-your-face rock band. They’re fierce. They’re creative. They’re courageous. They’re unapologetic. Moreover, they do it all with a sense of fearlessness.
The Soul’s cocktail recipe isn’t one you’ll find in any book, and a cauldron is probably the appropriate vessel. Pour in a few parts Lenny Kravitz and Jimi Hendrix, along with heaping spoonfuls of Steve Jordan and Keith Moon, a dash of The Beatles, and garnish with a twist of Nirvana (without any loss of control) and imbibe. Red Bull is not necessary.
The London Souls aren’t here to dazzle you with an elaborate light show, either. In fact, not a single bulb dimmed or changed color in the two hours in which they bared themselves. All this pair of New Yorkers needed to engage and engulf were a couple of amps, a scant few effects and a lot of talent. St. Hilaire, shrouded in near darkness with only the front of his bass drum illuminated, hammered out a broad range of tight, thumping time signatures from the shadows. Neal took his partner’s foundational canvas and hurled upon it a broad tone and color spectrum of rhythm and solo grooves from his lone guitar. Whatever space was left, and there was a lot less than you might believe, was filled by a strong pair of vocal performances to complete the sonic circle.
In an entertainment world so full of artists trying to distinguish themselves from the noise, clutter and the sadly engineered garbage that passes for pop music these days, The London Souls have succeeded where most fail. They are not only as unique as each snowflake that made up our phenomenal Tahoe winter, but completely absent on stage is any sense of trepidation or doubt about who they are together. This summer, they’ll open three shows for legendary rock band, The Who, and I have no doubt that they’ll attack those performances with the same ferocity poured out at CBC. Naked, in front of thousands, and unafraid.