Chevelle ‘sent the pain below’ for a few fans when they cancelled their South African tour back in 2011. But the cause of the delay – recording conflicts – resulted in their sixth studio album, their most impressive yet. Hats Off to the Bull spawned such songs as ‘Piñata’ and ‘Face to the Floor’ two songs which by themselves made the sacrifice worth it. Now a torturous two years later South African fans finally got to experience the Chicago natives and their arsenal of guitars for ourselves.
Woodstock Mafia was a perfect choice as an opening act. With solid riffs and occasional scream vocals they resonated well with Chevelle fans. Their set was meticulous with only a small judgment error of in playing their new song ‘Divided’ as their final song. ‘Divided’ is not a bad song, but the captivating ‘Electric Light’ would have been a far more memorable finale.
Shadow Club shared a few minutes of their stage time with a friend who committed the ultimate rock n roll gesture of love by proposing to his girlfriend on stage. She said yes and mentally started choreographing their first dance as man and wife to ‘Good Morning Killer’ (speculation).
GrandWest was a welcome break from the stadium that hosted most of the major concerts of late. The sound is always of the highest quality: something Cape Town stadium rarely pulls off. Eavesdropping in the queue of the bar confirmed that my fellow concert goers were also impressed with the venue, “I can just nip in and out to the bar and the bathrooms are clean.” (The rest of this conversation was not so clean so I will spare you that.)
On the topic of the bar, the service is as friendly as it is slow. And while we are on the topic of staff, one driver of the mini shuttles that transport the pensioner gamblers drove like a taxi on Voortrekker Road. He was driving on the hooting like a manic on the footpath when he grazed me with the mirror. I was unharmed but still feel rather shaken by the incident.
Chevelle got right into it with the dark ‘Sleep Apnea’. The crossover music between songs can only be described as alien opera, haunting random and surprisingly soul-stirring. And there is real emotion from the boys of Chevelle: Pete Loeffler (lead and guitarist), along with a few dudes who had been viciously head banging just a few minutes before, got quite teary when he introduced his current favourite song to perform, ‘Piñata’.
After a scorching finale of ‘Send the Pain Below’, Chevelle encored with ‘The Red’ and ‘Face to the Floor’. ‘The Red’ is a song about rage and the way it builds up, so it was very appropriate to start the song with only Pete and his guitar on stage. As the song progressed Sam Loeffler joined on the drums and later Dean Bernadini on the bass. This was the absolute highlight of the evening, and a masterclass in everything a live show should be. Any concert goer is ultimately seeking something more than what comes out of the speakers at home. However good their sound system, they are hoping for the quintessential band experience. And this is something Chevelle offers in droves.
*Photos by Warren Talmarkes Photography
A version of this review was featured on WhatsoninCapeTown.com