Adelitas Way stopped in Minneapolis on Thursday, May 9th on their What It Takes Tour. The band along with supporting acts Blacklite District, American Sin, and Late Night Fights put on a great show. Next time make sure to bring along a friend. There was room, and they would have loved it!
LATE NIGHT FIGHTS
The rising Minneapolis band Late Night Fights (LNF) was a late replacement for ZFG as the show’s first opening act. While I was intrigued to check out a band whose name stands for “Zero F**ks Given” sounds like, I was pleasantly surprised for a chance to see LNF in a more traditional setting after covering their wild album release party for Bliss in December. With pole dancers performing between sets and even some during songs it begged the question why isn’t this done more often (check it out HERE). You may know Ryan Guanzon as the former drummer of New Medicine. But “Guanz” is now the writer/singer/guitarist of his own hard rock band and also well respected for his work in music production. That’s what he was doing in Missouri, on tour with Willie Nelson’s son, Lukas Nelson, and his band Promise of the Real, when his friends from Adelitas Way got in touch with him. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, Guanzon arranged to fly in for the show and then fly out the next day to catch up with Lukas’ tour in Texas.
Late Night fights started off their set with a couple great songs from Bliss, “Sway” and “Great Divide”. They also played one of their most well-known songs, “Prison”, which Guanzon dedicated to anyone you love that is fighting addiction. The new guy you saw pounding on the skins was their new drummer, Claudio Rivera, formerly with Motion City Soundtrack. If you enjoyed the catchy hard rock sound of Late Night Fights and want to hear more of their songs, plan on making the short drive to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin on Thursday May 16th. Also, Guanzon said he’s been talking with folks about future events including pole dancers.
American Sin, a band from Cincinnati, was next up on the slate. While an alternative metal band, the show tonight would have a slightly different sound to it as we would learn their regular lead singer was on leave for family time with his newborn. Their replacement singer joked, “I don’t belong up here. I’m a pop singer up here filling in. You were probably wondering who’s that Justin Bieber-f**k up there.” I never learned who the singer was but he did a great job and might have brought more energy to their show than usual as he was always moving and even climbed up on the bass drums at one point. The band took a short break to let “Justin” sing one of his own songs to an accompanying acoustic guitar. Then they finished their powerful set. During their final song, one of the guitarists ran upstairs and much to the concern of security, climbed over the railing to stand on the ledge to play before returned to safety. American Sin has a great active rock sound and put on a great show. Next time it will be interesting to see how different they might be with their regular singer.
The next band didn’t take long to set-up as the duo only needed a pair of microphones, a laptop computer on a DJ table, and a guitar. The stage backdrop was a rectangular light board that changed colors and patterns. This was Blacklite District, a duo from the Black Hills of South Dakota, of all places. Kyle Pfeiffer and Roman James comprise the group. The two have been creating music together since they were young boys. Their music is a little different than you would expect to hear on a hard rock bill, but was well received, especially by the younger fans in attendance. They play a hybrid of EDM/hip hop/alternative rock music and it got fans jumping, dancing, and swaying along. While they sing live vocals to pre-recorded instrumental tracks churned from their laptop, Pheiffer told us, “Everything you hear was written and recorded by us in the studio. So this is the real deal.” The bearded James started the set playing guitar but later set that aside to free himself up. The two take turns singing lead vocals while the other covers the DJ table. At times they would slip on white masks with black eye sockets and LED-lighted teeth. Two of the band’s singles, “With Me Now” and “Cold as Ice” have been top-40 Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs but they have also had mind-boggling numbers of views of their YouTube videos featuring Minecraft video game footage set to their songs. With genre walls continuing to fall in today’s music, Blacklite Districts appears poised to be a popular inclusion on many more rock tours.
While the crowd enjoyed the three opening bands, they were clearly there for a rare chance to see such a big-time recording artist as Adelitas Way in such a small venue. The last time we saw them in town it was last fall opening for Fozzy at First Avenue. Now, headlining the smaller ( 600-capacity) Fine Line, it offered fans a chance to inch closer and soak in many more of the band’s long list of hits. The band has had tremendous success, with six top-ten Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs to its name with “Invincible”, “Sick”, “The Collapse”, “Criticize”, “Alive” and “Dog on a Leash”. However, it’s been mind-boggling to me that they are not packing arenas for shows like other similar active rock bands. Regardless, it’s our treat to be able to see them up close and personal in such an intimate setting.
The band started their show with their newly released single, “What It Takes.” The energetic and motivational song is certain to become a popular anthem that would be perfect for networks to use for professional and collegiate sports coverage. Expect a new album from Adelitas Way in Fall 2019 to include this song. Based on this first single, I’m anxious for the rest of the album. For now check out the lyric video on YouTube that includes some old family photos that are pretty cool.
Next up was “Sick” which hit #2 back in 2011 from that incredible album Home School Valedictorian. Frontman Rick DeJesus took a breather after the two opening songs to tell those that have been following them for a long time (ten years now) two things, “One, your head’s in the right bed, and two, we’re still hungry.” DeJesus meant the band is still hungry to keep creating even better music for their fans but it was also the intro to the hit song “Still Hungry” from their current album Live Love Life. Yet another great locker room anthem, this is a tremendously catchy song that gets you feeling like a big powerful T-Rex of your own. We love these songs. Now we just need active rock radio stations to jump on board!
Next were a pair of songs from 2017’s album Notorious. First, the bonus track, “Vibes” which is a “pop-ish” song borrowing a line from Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight.” Then the powerful “Ready for War (Pray for Peace)” which speaks to the world and says it like it is. DeJesus paused to applaud those in the front row, saying, “I’ve always had a soft spot for the front row. It means you got here early to stake out your spot.” Speaking to them and all AW fans, he continued, “I love hearing your voices. If you know the words, please sing along. Don’t worry, I’ll sing with.” The ballad, “Last Stand”, from their self-titled debut album was the perfect sing-along song and fans were loud.
The tall frontman told us the band’s life is good and they can do pretty much whatever they want. “They say some things about me. And I’m here to tell you ……. all of them are true! Sometimes you have to have a “Bad Reputation”,” which lead into that hit song from Stuck.
Midway through the show, an excited and drunken fan decided to step up on stage. While many bands would have freaked out, DeJesus handled it with grace, embracing the fan and allowing him to take a selfie with him, before the fan crowd surfed off the stage. While Adelitas Way is a trio (DeJesus along with drummer Tre Stafford and bassist Andrew Cushing), guitarist Tavis Stanley from Art of Dying has been playing with them for over a year now. Maybe after the revolving door in the guitar spot they are afraid of marriage and will just continue the steady guitar-friend thing. What’s pretty cool is that you can sign up to take Skype guitar lessons from Stanley while he’s on tour.
DeJesus told the crowd, “We feel a lot more love here in Minneapolis than some other places we stop. This next song goes out to all those love birds.” It was “Alive” another one of those top-10 hits from Home School Valedictorian. What a great song and such great emotions from DeJesus as he sang it with the crowd. This continued with another catchy ballad , “Tell Me” with its tell-tale “Who-ooh, are you.”
The lead singer told the crowd to stick around after the show. “We don’t charge for meet-and-greets so we will be in the back after the show to sign anything and to say “Hi”. We love Minneapolis and would love to come back So consider this Adelitas Way word-of-mouth marketing. For anyone you know who didn’t come out for the show tonight make sure to bring them next time and tell them something for me.” What he wanted you to tell them was also stated on a t-shirt you could buy at the merch table which said, “Tell them what the f**k they missed.”
As bands add album after album one unfortunate side effect is they can no longer fit all of their top songs into their show. Tonight the set list did not have room for “Dog on a Leash”, “Save the World”, “We Came”, “I Want You”, “Cage The Beast”, or even “The Collapse”. But a trio of high energy fan-favorites sent everyone home happy, beginning with #1 hit “Criticize”. That is one of my favorite songs of all time and so fun to hear live amidst an excited crowd just as into it. Then hit song “Notorious” from the like-titled 2017 album. After a brief break while the band played an instrumental jam, DeJesus returned for the grand finale, which was the song that really started it all for the band. It was of course “Invincible.”
What a great show. Don’t forget to bring a friend along next time and tell them what they missed!
What It Takes / Sick / Still Hungry / Vibes / Ready for War (Pray for Peace) / Last Stand / Bad Reputation / Alive / Tell Me/ Criticize / Notorious / Rage Jam / Invincible.