It was a cold, damp February Saturday night in Boise, but SoCal’s Them Evils effortlessly heated up the Olympic Venue crowd with their vintage-inspired, riff-driven groove rock. The power trio is composed of Jordan Griffin (vocals, guitar), Jake Massanari (bass), and David Delaney II (drums). They are no strangers to the City of Trees; they previously rocked our town while on tour with the Pretty Reckless in 2016, and again in early 2018 with Red Sun Rising. Having experienced the band’s fun, high-energy performances both times, I’d been anticipating their headlining stint at the Olympic. I was not disappointed.
First up were Boise’s dark experimental rockers, Ghostbox. I say this every time I see them play: they may be a local band but there is nothing local-level about them. Jason Whitley, (guitar and vocals), Steve Bade (bass), Curtis Dela Cruz (guitar), and Ryan Anderson (drums), commanded the stage and delivered a dynamic set of eleven songs, including the fitting “The Sun and the Snow,” “Obsidian,” and “Visions.” They ended with the always-entertaining “Me and You,” one of the most original “love songs” out there. The crowd seemed to fully enjoy them.
After a brief intermission, Them Evils took the stage, opening with the hooky “Put Your Love on Me,” followed with my personal favorite, the gritty, rhythmic “Untold,” off their Rollin’ Stoned and Livin’ Free EP. Their set also included “She Got Nothin’,” “Practice What You Preach,” and “Got Me Rockin’,” all from the aforementioned EP. People consistently compare Them Evils to bands like AC/DC, Black Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. While the influence of the bluesy hard rock legends is apparent, Them Evils have created a unique style that harkens back to the classics, but sounds modern and fresh. They are very natural and genuine in their performance and their riffs and rhythms feel authentic. They’re not merely going through the motions and they don’t appear overly rehearsed. They also possess plenty of rebellious attitude. These are some of the reasons a self-proclaimed broody metalhead like myself has been drawn to a band that fits more in the genre of fun, upbeat rock n’ roll.
One of the most memorable parts of a Them Evils performance is the perpetual movement on stage from all three members. Throughout their set, Griffin repeatedly stepped to the edge of the stage and, at one point, entirely off the stage to mingle with the crowd during his guitar leads, while Massanari spun and pounded his bass and made several circuits around the venue. (Unfortunately, there were no light trusses for him to scale this time, unlike the last time he played the Boise Knitting Factory). Even Delaney, stationary behind his drum kit, kept the groove magical and animated with drumsticks and hair flying. As one avid fan remarked: “One of the highlights of the show for me was their motion. They were all over the place! They do it without making you worried they’re going to pull you into the spotlight, but you feel like you’re really part of the show.” The crowd’s enthusiasm peaked during the band’s lively rendition of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds.” They closed the night with “Have One on Me,” leaving everyone wishing for more.
After their set, the guys lingered to chat with fans, sign merch, and pose for photos, all this with gleeful abandon even though they only had one more date to pull off to complete their tour and they had battled extreme cold and poor road conditions on the northern jog of their dates. Their on-stage energy carries over into the after-show interactions and they return the joy of their work to their fans ten-fold. One peek into their social media reveals how much they value their fans: they create a vibrant conversation with their public and bring them on stage and backstage virtually with a stream of witty posts. Candid band interaction off-stage creates loyalty and an invaluable bond with fans. This was certainly the case with me, and many of the other fans with whom I spoke after the show.
It’s been an eventful year for Them Evils already. They’ve just completed a major market circuit in direct support of Pop Evil. In the midst of all that, they also set sail on the highly popular Shiprocked Cruise. They headed to Salt Lake City after their Saturday night gig here in Boise concluding this tour. After a short break, the guys plan to work on new music and will be back on the road again soon, so keep your eyes and ears peeled.
Check out our recent interview with Jordan of Them Evils.
All photos © 2019 Katarzyna Cepek Photography