Saturday March 25, 2017 saw Radio Free Universe unleash their new CD “Casa Del Diablo” upon an adoring public at Hamilton, Ontario’s Casbah Lounge. I’d discovered the band after their publicist, an industry friend, sent me an email stating that if I missed out on RFU I’d be very unhappy and may even get a bad case of hives. I’m ecstatic to have heeded his warning (I detest hives) and after spinning the new album on Too Metal For Church the last couple of weeks I was seriously anticipating a killer show.
Our evening began over soup and salad as we interviewed frontman George Panagopolous for an upcoming edition of the radio show in one of the most natural and heartfelt conversations I’ve ever had while interviewing an artist – we literally forgot the recorder was there while discussing all things RFU and the universe. George is a great storyteller with a highlight being his tale of meeting Satan in the back room of a blues bar in New Orleans. It’s told in the track ‘Six’ from the excellent “Casa Del Diablo” whose release party we were about to experience.
The opening of the evening’s festivities were ably handled by Detours and Slo Motions bringing a decidedly youngish crowd into the party. Detours served up capable, jangly indie rock for the most part with Slo Motions adding ’70’s hard rock and blues boogie ala Bad Company or Foghat into the mix. Both performed admirably and if you dig those vibes you should definitely check these bands out. For our part, Phoenix and I drew odd glances in our Metal Nation Radio gear, the youngsters no doubt wondering what the hell these aging metalheads were doing there. When George & RFU kicked their collective asses shortly after the question was more than adequately addressed.
RFU’s set began with the rocking ‘18 Wheels‘, a high energy riff-tastic track that showcased George’s great tone and emotive power in an old school bluesy vibe that had heads bobbin’ and the front row head banging and groovin’ immediately. This tendency to rock out continued through ‘DMT’ whose chorus is instantly memorable and thought-provoking.
With the momentum building and the band clearly connecting on a raw, primal level, the one-two punch of the album’s opening tracks was delivered; the anthemic ‘American Gun‘ with it’s soaring, instantly memorable chorus and the alt-tinged ‘Disclosure‘.
The highlight of the evening for me was when George pulled several front row groovers on stage to rock out during ‘Six‘ . While the frontman spent much of the song’s opening verses standing high on a chair in the middle of the audience, he was soon back – singing each line in the chorus with those of us on stage. What a blast.
The evening wrapped with Sudbury, Ontario’s Therapists whose brand of hilariously delivered hard rock/metal brought some comedic relief while RFU members hung out with fans enjoying the show.
Overall it was an outstanding night. I’ve said repeatedly in other articles that when one sees an artist or performer that has arena potential you know it instinctively. I expect RFU to go a long way if they can somehow navigate the complex and befuddled music ‘industry’ that lies between them and world-wide fame.
Reverend Rock’s Rating: 9.5/10
All photos courtesy of Phoenix Camerah
Reverend Rock is host of Too Metal For Church, Monday 10 a.m. t0 2 p.m. EST, Wednesday and Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m EST