Philly locals Black Stars are not the kind of band you expect to stumble upon at a craft brewery. The Philly four piece has been steadily gathering buzz around town in the wake of high energy shows, and their Thanksgiving Eve show at Yards did not disappoint. With pints of delicious Yards brew in hand, the crowd quickly got on their feet as the band laid down a solid set of their original funkified rock songs, as well as some choice covers.
These young guns have a distinctive funk rock sound – think James Brown fronting Rage Against The Machine with Flea holding it down on bass. Each member of the band proved an integral part of this funk monster, keeping it tight while rocking out seemingly uninhibited. Charismatic frontman Nik Greeley barely took a breath as he weaved amongst his brothers onstage and lead the band into one barnburner after another, while guitarist Chester Drago stunned with virtuoso playing that slithered along melodically during verses and exploded suddenly in electrifying solos. Underneath it all, bassist Freshy and drummer Mike Keyack kept the rhythm pulsing and pounding. All of these elements combined to create a controlled chaos of sound the likes of which aren’t heard everyday.
Impressive playing aside, everyone knows the difference between a decent band and a great band is the songs. Luckily, Black Stars have the tunes to back up their chops. “Can’t Stop Me Now” had an unpredictable structure that took the audience on an auditory ride, while “Leave Me Alone” cruised along with riffs and howls that were both tasteful and interesting. The choice of covers let us know the band’s influences, and they nailed “Foxey Lady” and “The Ocean” while putting some extra funk into each of the songs to really own them.
An encore of “Bulls on Parade” allowed the band to take the gloves off and really explode into the raw energy they had been teasing throughout the performance. As the dust settled at the formerly quiet brewery, Nik Greeley wished us a Happy Thanksgiving and an invitation to come rock out again soon. It’s only a matter of time until Black Stars start appearing at festivals and heading out for extended tours. After a great show like the one at Yard’s, that time will undoubtedly be sooner than later.
Can’t Stop Me Now
Leave Me Alone
Foxy Lady (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
Sex In E
We Are Funky
The Ocean (Led Zeppelin)
Bulls On Parade (Rage Against the Machine)
For a sampling of Black Star’s signature groove, check out this professionally shot footage of their recent show at The Theatre of Living Arts:
Thanks to Matty Ketchup for the pics and video!