If you told me in January I would be attending a concert in a drive-in style setting and thoroughly enjoying every ever-loving second of it, I would have thought you were
absolutely daft. But eight months into 2020 and… well, here we are!
After a last-minute date change, The Struts had their first drive-in concert in the parking lot of Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia Tuesday, August 18th. LiveNation had three different price tiers (by distance) for the event and each ticket was for a carload of up to four people maximum (plus, ya know, parking). Cars were parked with one empty space in between for social distancing and you had to remain in your vehicle (or on top of it, or in the pick up truck bed, etc.).
Upon parking and seeing the stage, I–and I’m sure many others–thought “FUCK. THAT IS SO HIGH. I AM NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO SEE THE BAND.” That worry faded as WMMR jockeys and the Philly local openers Nick Perri & the Underground Thieves took their places on stage. The height of the stage was actually quite nice and could be seen across the lot from any sightline. As with any large-scale event, there were also screens strategically placed throughout the parking lot to ensure everyone could get a visual. The layout was similar to a music festival…only with cars. The big difference to any other outdoor concert was there was no PA system, so unless you were in the first few rows of vehicles, you would need to tune your car stereo into the FM frequency to hear the band playing, just like a drive-in movie.
After five months of no public performances, The Struts triumphant return to the stage saw lead singer Luke Spiller ditch his custom leather-fringed outfits for a bedazzled “Who The Fuck is Luke Spiller?” tee, sparkling as bright as his bling-encrusted Elton John-esque shades and diamond choker. Aside from his iridescent/rainbow platform boots, it seemed a very Steven Tyler aesthetic; glamorous, yet gritty (and Philly sure loves Gritty!!).
The band sounded tighter than ever, especially with a guest horn section consisting of MisterWives members Dr. Blum (trumpet, keys) and Murph (sax, tambourine). The Struts blazed through a handful of radio hits before announcing they had written and recorded a new album while in quarantine over the past few months AND WERE
DEBUTING SOME NEW, NEVER-BEFORE HEARD TRACKS. Let me tell you that ONE new track would have been enough after months upon months of no live music, but The Struts are so wonderful, they bestowed not one, not two, BUT THREE brand-new songs upon one of their favourite cities to play, Philadelphia.
The poignant piano-heavy ballad “Strange Days” was up first, with lyrics reflective of the times we are currently living in. Hearing this song in a non-traditional concert
setting was a powerful and moving experience; reflective while taking it in.
Oh these are strange days// In many strange ways//
Science fiction, I believe// Has become reality//
Oh these are strange times// Lost in our mind//
We don’t know, it’s unclear// Where we’ll be this time next year//
Followed up immediately with another new song–and lead single from the third record–“Another Hit of Showmanship” is an upbeat, radio-ready smash reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen. The highlight of the song is Spiller‘s vocals, holding notes that send him soaring into the chorus. Also? The horns. The horns 110% made this song more amazing and added an extra layer of depth to the overall sound; brilliance. Check out the just-released studio version of the track featuring Albert Hammond, Jr. here!!
The Struts kept the heat turned up with “I Do It So Well” from their 2019 effort, YOUNG&DANGEROUS (including a rollicking guitar solo from axemaster Adam Slack). Not only was the audience in for a special treat with another new song to follow up, but the band brought out guitar guru (and opener of the night) Nick Perri to shred and share guitarmonies with Slack on the aptly titled, “Cool.” Whatta spunky, kiss-off of a ripper this song is! It gives off major Rolling Stones vibes musically as well as in Spiller‘s playful, care-free delivery of the verses and coo-oo-ool callbacks. With Perri and Slack riffing back-n-forth so effortlessly, it begs the question, will the studio
version of “Cool” also feature a special guest on guitar as well? Hopefully we aren’t too far away from the official release to find out!
While the Starlight Drive-In of Butler saw the same setlist from The Struts the following night, the PA system, lowered stage and overall parking set up gave night two a slight edge. Spiller‘s wardrobe was nothing short of over-the-top with his red accented, purple sequined top shining brightly in the stage lights. His purple thigh-high boots would have made Orville Peck jealous, as they seemed to have a western/desert motif (complete with cacti). The band overall was a bit more loose and having a grand time; but who could blame them after conquering the drive-in genre on their first go a night prior?
Rather than a traditional encore break, Luke remained on-stage at the end of both shows to thank the audience for their support and giving Struts a la Drive-In a chance. They were a beautiful moments shared with the frontman as he teased of big things to come from The Struts “very soon.”
Could there be more drive-in style shows planned? Will we be seeing an album drop soon? No one’s really sure what The Struts are planning, but they have currently returned home across the pond and keeping in-line with their scrapped “MAKE IT BIG” summer tour this year, whatever these lads are planning, it’s going to be next-level big and we cannot wait!!
The only official upcoming gigs are a brief run in Japan in April of 2021 (pushed back an entire year thanks to COVID-19), an appearance at Spain’s Mad Cool Festival 2021 *and* The Struts recently confirmed they are still slated to appear as part of the line up for their “Body Talks” collab buddy Kesha‘s “Weird & Wonderful Rainbow Ride 2” on the rescheduled November 2021 dates. You know who else is on the cruise?
MISTERWIVES. I sense a MisterStruts reunion…
So you don’t miss the new music that’s been teased, official tour updates (GO THE FUCK AWAY ALREADY, COVID), and any other Struts-related happenings, you can find (and follow) all of their socials right here.
THE BIGGEST THANK YOUS TO:
- Philly photography legend, Derek Muthafuckin’ Brad for his killer shots from night one.
Dig more of his out-of-this-world concert photography here and also here.
- My Cincinnati homegirl, journalist Ruth Preston for her stellar shots from night two.
Find more of her epic + awesome concert portfolio here or over here.
More Night One (Philly) Photo Highlights from Derek:
More Night Two (Butler) Photo Highlights from Ruth:
Alternate vids from the article: