09/27/16 Solana Beach, CA Belly Up
09/29/16 Fresno, CA Fulton 55
09/30/16 San Francisco, CA Independent
10/01/16 Orangevale, CA The Boardwalk
10/02/16 Reno, NV PB&J's
10/05/16 Billings, MT The Pub Station
10/07/16 Portland, OR Doug Fir Lounge
10/08/16 Seattle, WA Neumos
10/10/16 Missoula, MT The Palace Lounge
10/13/16 St. Louis, MO Delmar Hall
10/14/16 Nashville, TN Cannery Ballroom
10/15/16 Little Rock, AR Metroplex Live
10/16/16 Dallas, TX Trees
10/20/16 Austin, TX The Parish
10/21/16 Houston, TX Warehouse Live
10/22/16 New Orleans, LA Gasa Gasa
10/23/16 New Orleans, LA Gasa Gasa
10/27/16 Washington, DC Black Cat
10/28/16 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
10/29/16 New York, NY Irving Plaza
11/03/16 Pittsburgh, PA Rex Theater
11/04/16 Asbury Park, NJ House Of Independents
11/05/16 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
11/06/16 Salisbury, MD Headquarters Live
11/09/16 Holyoke, MA Gateway City Arts
11/10/16 Cambridge, MA The Sinclair
11/11/16 Portland, ME Port City Music Hall
11/12/16 Clifton Park, NY Upstate Concert Hall
Four letters that define the Highly Suspect fan and if you don’t know what they are, chances are you will soon, as the trio is clearly on the cusp of making a bigger leap to music stardom after their recent sold-out show at the Fine Line Music Café.
Local bedroom dream pop/post-punk act Strange Relations opened the evening with songs from their 2015 release –Centrism and subsequent follow up EP, Going Out (on Tony Engines). Casey Sowa (vocals/drums), along with Maro Helgeson (bass, synth), and Nate Hart-Andersen (guitar) have garnered a growing following both locally and beyond, with songs like the synth heavy ‘Ceremonies’ and the deep throb of ‘Predation’. The band, voted Best Rock Band in City Pages last year, had a short opening run for the headliner, and were clearly thrilled to have the opportunity, which also translated well in terms of their live performance.
Lights dimmed and those chants of “M-C-I-D” from a crowd that had ballooned in size after the opening set, filling the room as rising Brooklyn band Highly Suspect took to the stage. The trio is childhood friends Johnny Stevens– guitar, vocals; and twins Ryan Meyer- drums and Rich Meyer- bass and that acronym stands for “my crew is dope”, showing allegiance both to their crew and the fans they consider part of their family. It has evolved into something of a rallying cry and now is even a clothing line- with singer Stevens was wearing the hat, and drummer Meyer the shirt and hat, along with road crew members.
The band plays unadulterated, devil-may-care bluesy rock with a post-punk bar band underbelly, similar in vein to Queens of the Stone Age, Chevelle, or the UK’s Royal Blood and had a huge loyal fan base representing locally (many in those MCID t-shirts) after successful local shows headlining the smaller Triple Rock and in support of The Struts and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
The mostly younger crowd was immediately near pandemonium from the opening and frenzied ‘Bath Salts’ from most recent album Mister Asylum (on 300 Entertainment), with their follow-up release, The Boy Who Died Wolf due out in November… not that you had to tell anyone in the crowd, that were already so tuned into the band.
Proof that the band had outgrown this size club was given during ‘F**k Me Up’, an unapologetic, balls-out rawk anthem that cuts loose and invites the audience along with it. ‘Vanity’ lyrically was heartfelt, an emotional track about reconciliation and understanding towards someone close to you.
The Grammy-nominated ‘Lydia’ was written by Stevens about an ex-girlfriend and letting go to each become the person they need to be, and obviously touched many in the crowd from their facial reactions. The new ‘Serotonia’ was a preview of the upcoming album (as was ‘My Name is Human’) and written about California, then the pace slowed down only momentarily, as bassist Meyer took over for ‘Round & Round’.
Mister Asylum’s second single, the bass heavy ‘Claudeland’ was written by Stevens to cheer a friend up and it clearly worked on the audience, who again seemed to know every word and was invited to all dance along.
Ending with ‘Fire in Bedstuy’ (so far unreleased, but may or may not end up on the new record) and obviously having a lot of fun playing, Highly Suspect staked their claim to play a much larger venue, the next time through town. Stevens sings “the bigger the river, the bigger the drought” on the new ‘My Name is Human’ but it’s clear that their own river will lead to anything but a drought, anytime soon.
(* as a result of technical difficulties, no event photos are presented)