The Sword/Royal Thunder/The Ready Room/St. Louis

On a rainy night in St. Louis, a few dozen people stand in line outside The Ready Room. The crowd is a mix of old-school metal fans sporting denim vests filled with patches...plenty of black band T-shirts...a few skinny-jean-clad hipster types with gauged ears...tons of dark-rimmed glasses...and a particularly endearing dude wearing a shirt proclaiming, "Sorry, I'm awkward. Sorry." Oh, and plenty of men with long, flowing, Pantene-commercial locks I could only dream of. I didn't count more than two dozen other women.

I really like The Ready Room. It reminds me of Springfield's The Rockwell. (RIP) The Ready Room is super wide and shallow, so even if you're in the back of the concert area, you're still fairly close the the stage.

Royal Thunder kicked off the night. The Atlanta-based four-piece won the crowd over quickly, largely due to the talent of vocalist/bassist Mlny Parsonz.

I would not even try to put Royal Thunder's music into a box of any certain style...their set took us on a hard rock journey featuring unique guitar licks courtesy of lead player Josh Weaver. Sabbath-like doom metal, blues, and hints of Zeppelin make up a sound that is uniquely Royal Thunder. Parsonz voice effortlessly glides between breathy and soft to Janis Joplin-caliber screaming.

It's always fun to watch a band "win over" a crowd, and that's exactly what happened at the Ready Room during Royal Thunder's set. The audience ended up cheering in the middle of songs as the tunes floated between hard and haunting.

If you, like me, are too lazy to click on links, I'll make it easy for ya. Here is "Forget You:"

The Sword took the stage after the lights in the Ready Room went down, and Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind" (I'm sure there's a story here?) played, then stopped with a record scratch.

"Three Witches" opened the Sword's set. The crowd, a sea of bobbing heads, sang along. A few more songs from 2012's Apocryphon followed, before the band launched into tunes from its latest album, High Country.

High Country features much more variety than The Sword's previous albums. The August release incorporates synths, horns, and funk into the mix, while keeping the band's hard rock sound.

To say The Sword has a cult-like following wouldn't be too far off. One guy in the front row was raising his hands like he was in church on a particularly spirit-filled Sunday morning. When guitarist Kyle Shutt walked to the edge of the stage, the guys in the front row reached toward him like one touch of his Gibson Les Paul would give them some dose of enlightenment.

Highlights from the new album-- "Tears Like Diamonds" and "Mist and Shadow." The latter has an absolutely amazing riff that is mesmerizing on the album, but live, it absolutely kills.

More songs from Apocryphon and 2010's Warp Riders closed out the set.
In conclusion...this show was pretty damn awesome. The Sword's music is interesting, yet catchy. You can dance to it or mosh to it. (Fun, cute moshing...not scary Slipknot moshing) 
This night was an intense, fun, all-consuming trip to a rock 'n roll fantasy land that I didn't want to leave. As a bonus, the constant hope of any music fan--that the opening band will give you a new set of songs to be obsessed with--came true thanks to Royal Thunder.
Keep on rocking,
--Mrs. W.