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The Record Company At The Teragram Ballroom, Friday December 10th 2021

The Record Company
The Record Company

It’s hard to believe that The Record Company has made music and has performed for 10 years. I remember seeing them years ago, and if they still have the same energy on stage, they have grown in style and number: last night, they were 5 on stage and it was the last stop of their 2021 “Play Loud” tour. However, since nothing is supposed to go completely smoothly in 2021, the show, first scheduled in November, was rescheduled due to a positive COVID 19 case in their team. Nothing could have stopped their collective enthusiasm, and The Record Company rocked the Teragram Ballroom in front of a very dedicated crowd of people who were there to see their favorite band. You can tell when everyone is wearing the band’s shirt and singing along in a call-and-response. A couple in their late ‘60s or early ‘70s was standing next to me and holding a sign that read “bucket list,” and I figured out it may have been their first concert since the pandemic. In any case, everyone was there to have fun on a Friday night, and I don’t think anyone got disappointed.

JJ Wilde set the tone with an explosive performance and an energy that it was hard to top. This Canadian rock & roller is already a big star in her country, her debut album “Ruthless,” released in 2020, won Rock Album of the Year at the 2021 Juno Awards, and she is now ready to conquer the US… if she continues to deliver such high-energy shows with the same catchy songs, there is no doubt she will soon headline big venues as The Record Company’s Chris Vos told us a bit later. With the help of her highly dynamic band, she truly embraced her name, like a wild child of rock and roll. Mixing songs from her last EP, “Wilde,” and songs from her album “Ruthless,” her pop-rock songs, truly served by her soaring raucous powerhouse, were pure drama. Often a bit dark, the tunes had real passion and intensity written all over them with a touch of outlaw country for some of them, while the cathartic instrumentation was channeling big rock bands of the past. They gave a memorable performance with a lot of flying hair, euphoric and catchy choruses, stomping verse transforming the empowering songs into riotous anthems. You could not have found a more dramatic demonstration of expressive rock done with more conviction. Setlist: Trouble, Off the Rails, Bushweed, Best Boy, Mercy, Someone Under You, Parents Gen, the Rush

The Record Company knows how to build a groove, they do it effortlessly, and if their sound is still inspired by blues and rock & roll roots, they have definitively expanded their sound as the disco ball, strategically reverberating lights on the stage, seemed to indicate. The John Lee Hooker cover (“Boom Boom”) during the encore was an obvious one, but the Beastie Boys song “So What’cha Want” was a complete surprise, at least to me: after listening for close to 2 hours of bluesy rock going from swampy groovy Southern inspirations to more garage-rock oriented songs, who could have seen the Beastie Boys coming? One thing is certain, The Record Company definitively don’t want to be pigeonholed.

The band browsed their 3 albums, starting with the beloved “Life to Fix” off their 2016 “Give It Back to You,” and of course they played plenty of songs off their pandemic effort, the well-named 2021 “Play Loud.” On many songs, their signature sound was intact, bluesy with these big fat riffs that have even brought comparisons to ZZ Top, while frontman Chris Vos was leading the game with a multitude of guitars, distortion pedals, harmonica, and even lap steel guitar. He actually had a gear change for each song they performed, while the impeccable rhythm section delivered funky bass lines by Alex Stiff and cool drumming by Marc Cazorla with the same professional execution. To this you had to add Johnny Elkins on second guitar and Wesley Flowers on the keyboard for a full sound going way beyond their unassuming stage appearance: a lack of musicianship is certainly something you cannot complain about with The Record Company.

If they have the songs that will still bring comparisons with the Black Keys (“How High”), they also have swampier ones (“Gotta Be Movin’”), slower soul-inspired ones (“Paradise”), keys-led pop songs with catchy chorus (“Live As One”), triumphant rockers rolling into a softer ballad and back (“Out of My Head”), and wild dancefloors with a retro ‘80s flair (“Get Up And Dance!”). Anyone who had expected a straightforward night of blues-rock would have been surprised by the eclectic nature of their long set and their impressive range despite a traditional guitar-based approach. On stage, the band was loose, upbeat, energetic, and always on the move, especially Vos, who had visibly a lot of fun jumping around or freely trashing the stage with a harmonica and a reverb-treatment for his vocals. There were long jams, plenty of momentum as well as unexpected sonic moves despite the bluesy-funky palette, and I must say that I thought about the Stones a few times during the set, which cannot be a bad thing.

After the release of 3 albums (and a Grammy nomination in 2017), after touring the world while opening for acts as diverse as John Mayer, B.B. King, Bob Seger, and Social Distortion, the band has stayed extremely down to earth. With his truck-hat-blue-collar-rock-star charisma, Vos gave personal shout-outs to longtime fans he recognized among the crowd.  “I thought we would never see each other,” he said with the genuine emotion of a musician truly happy to play live again. “All Night Long” people were screaming. They played for 2 sweaty hours with a second encore, but they could have gone on for another hour or two, the crowd was still with them because a good LA audience can recognize authenticity.

And if you have missed their tour, Chris Vos has announced that the band will be performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live on December 15!

Setlist
Life to Fix
How High
Gotta Be Movin’
Rita Mae Young
Ain’t Going Home
In the Mood for You
Paradise
Never Leave You
On the Move
Get Up and Dance!
Turn Me Loose
Awake
Baby I’m Broken
Give It Back to You
Out of My Head
Live As One
So What’cha Want (Beastie Boys cover)
Off the Ground

Encore:
This Crooked City
I’m Getting Better (And I’m Feeling It Right Now)

Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker cover)

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