Energy, volume and bounce – Black Honey and Russo come to Brighton venue, Concorde 2 to deliver their rocking new album and EP.
Opening for Black Honey, Russo are a band with an eclectic mix of members. At the helm is Californian front-woman, Cailin Russo, backed by Tyler McCarthy on guitar, Sean Ritchie on bass, and Hayley Brownell on drums and backing vocals. Despite starting out solo, Cailin has spoken about her sound becoming progressively rockier, leading to her holding auditions for band members which resulted in the current line-up.
Getting their set off to a fast-paced and aggressive start, the catchy bassline of Lonely rung out through the Brighton seafront venue. You can really hear Cailin’s rock influence coming through from her father, Scott Russo (lead singer of Unwritten Law), although Russo’s sound is still very fresh and current. Ghost was played next, with the hard-hitting and sultry chorus keeping the crowd very much alive. It was at this point, I knew Russo were a band to keep an eye on. This was followed by No Time and then “slowing it down” with one of the band’s favourites, Joyride, Russo truly demonstrated their range and unique sound in this short set.
Coming straight back from the brief dip in energy, Cailin screamed out “No more slow songs, fuck that” and the band went straight into my personal favourite off the newly-released EP, Loudmouth. This track is just pure energy, the solid rock beat from Hayley, supported by the subtle guitar and bass riffs from Tyler and Sean, as well as the strong vocals from Cailin really create the full package. The room was now packed with people; dancing, jumping and swaying to the band I’m sure many were now newly fans of.
Penultimately, Russo performed Cailin’s debut single September Rose – a song with a lot of meaning behind it, discussing the perfect relationship happening at the wrong time. The crowd again reacted well but before long the grungy Bad Things was belted out and Russo had left the stage. It has to be noted that the energy and stage presence Russo have is amazing; the way in which Cailin moves about, along with Tyler (I have never seen a guitarist pull so many different faces) who is an absolute animal – leaping about all over the place, is immense. The band clearly work exceptionally well together and have compiled their individual influences to create something truly unique and special. Russo could have taken Black Honey’s crowd for themselves in my opinion, I don’t doubt they’ll be drawing in large crowds for themselves soon – an astonishing performance.
As Brightonians themselves, Concorde 2 was an obvious venue for Black Honey to kick off their tour, celebrating the release of their self-titled debut album. Composed of lead singer and guitarist Izzy B. Phillips, guitarist Chris Ostler, bassist Tommy Taylor, and drummer Tom Dewhurst, the four-piece indie rock band were formed in 2014 and have gone from success to success since then. The stage was dimly lit, creating a dark moody vibe for the first song, I Only Hurt the Ones I Love – quite apt. The solid rock groove was immediately apparent, and the crowd were sent into a jumping frenzy.
With that loud, confident chorus, Madonna followed, then succeeded by All My Pride and Bad Friends. Fan favourite, Crowded City came soon after and it was very clear the crowd were getting more and more into the music as time went on. This couldn’t have been clearer than the moment a mosh pit opened, whilst a wild crowd surfer appeared from nowhere, accidentally kicking me in the head. The atmosphere in the room was remarkable, every member of the crowd getting involved and Black Honey fully in control on stage. What Happened To You received a huge response, followed by the calmer Baby.
Following this, Izzy whipped out her phone and started a Facebook Live of the event, something which really divided my opinion. Sure, it’s cool to know that you’re going to be on the band’s social media, and Izzy did get down into the crowd so people in the front row could take photos with her and sing into the microphone during the live video, but it seemed to take away from the performance for people further back, and was a little ‘Black Mirror-esque’. Having said that, it is very clear Black Honey value their fans, with every member going to the merch stand afterwards for signatures, selfies and a chat. I myself had a brief conversation with Chris, and they all seem like very honest, down-to-earth people, so perhaps the Facebook Live was better-received by others in the crowd.
The band finished with hard-hitters, Corrine and Midnight, both songs which pack a punch and left the crowd thoroughly content. Midnight especially made the audience break out into song with everyone singing along. Black Honey truly give an incredible performance and care about the music they make, as well as their fans; it will be interesting to see where they take their sound from here.