A favorite album is a sacred thing.
Playing a wax disc, tightly wound tape, or audio by futuristic laser, when and how you listen to it takes up a prominence in your life.
In your heart, it settles in lace right next to your first kiss; your first heartbreak, love, and handwritten letters with love and innocent (or perhaps in the more intense realms of desire) lust written in cursive.
All those moments, intersecting in beautiful and heartbreaking form. It’s these moments that were so well, and captured in photographic detail, in She Wants Revenge’s self titled debut, ten years ago.
It’s hard to believe, in the same way that you can’t believe you’ve grown up in that period, or that girl you once loved moved away after you first held hands. Like all good memories, they need to be revisited to be fully appreciated, and looked back on like a fine wine.
It’s this then that prompted the duo, currently on a hiatus to explore their own creative facets, to dust off the memory, and come back to it in a US commemorative tour, playing it in it’s full glory, and gratuitously opening it in Florida.
Revolution Live Fort Lauderdale played host to it’s second date, joined by Raw Fabrics (who will be accompanying them on the whole of the tour), and even inviting South Florida staples Astari Nite to join them on this journey to the past.
Fellow L.A. act Raw Fabrics took first on the stage, entering as shadows against the lighted screen backdrop of their name, which is perfect as the creativity limit was set high, taking pure essence and being unafraid to do all they could with it.
As frontman Jack Bruno played the stage in a unique and powerful combination of Dave Gahan and Michael Hutchence, the three piece held nothing back, channeling the 00’s era of indie flourish, when the bands present in small UK clubs and US bars were better than the ones playing on massive stages at the time. Bloc Party, Hot Hot Heat, TV On The Radio, Hard-Fi and many more emerged from these alleys, and it is the same of the act, taking hints from all of the above and making them hard to compare, in the best ways.
Their strength perhaps also draws from their experience, with Bruno having overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol, channeling that passion into the music, alongside their amazing drummer and smooth as silk bassist/guitarist/keyboardist, who seamlessly transitioned from one and the other without a beat missed.
From tracks like “Get Me The Hell Out Of Here”, to “Pissing On The Dancefloor”, and closer “Plastic Joy”, which saw Bruno grabbing a drum head and proceeding onto the GA floor with it, turning the venue into a huge dance floor of itself, the act destroyed the stigma that opening bands are just a teaser, and instead proving they can be just as hearty as a main act, without usurping.
And as Raw Fabrics exited, and the signature velour curtains of one of South Florida’s last remaining intimate venues (following Miami’s Grand Central’s sad departure), closed and opened to reveal Astari Nite, it’s a further appreciation of musical approaches.
Where Raw Fabrics reveled in bombast, Astari Nite settles on comfort, having been on the South Florida circuit for eight years, and both knowing and having faith in the crowd before them, as a good plenty were fans of the staples.
Knowing your strengths is not a bad talent, as it can push you further, leaving the envelope in the starry space behind you as you set toward the skies.
However, the danger and flip side of comfort, is ever cautious familiarity, and it is on the cusp of this where Astari Nite settles. The act has great potential, demonstrated in their fusion of Nick Cave energy and Modern English type guitars, but remain on that teetering edge of right before the climax, leaving you wanting more of what you feel the band are capable of.
It is not to be dismissed however, as the act opening for SWR is a blessing, showing the genre fusion present in the area that so often gets ignored.
As the Miami natives modestly departed, the lights came on and smoke swirled just once more to give pause before the main act, a title which the duo more than deserve.
There was a present sadness in the air, as if celebrating a friend that was going to go away for a while.
The band’s last release, 2011’s “Valleyheart”, was a love letter to their home, flourishing at it’s best and showing the softer and more intimate side of the band. Following the tour of the release, the group decided to go on an indefinite hiatus, to pursue other goals.
This isn’t a surprise however, as one of the greatest things about them, lies in their diversity.
Justin Warfield (lead vocals/guitar) is an MC at heart, having rapped before joining the group and signed by Quincy Jones at the age of 16, releasing his debut album, “My Field Trip To Planet 9” shortly thereafter, which remains an underground legend.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, Warfield has also guested on a few tracks, including The Chemical Brothers, and Placebo’s vastly underappreciated track “Spite & Malice”, which ironically would give a hint into SWR itself.
In 2013, Warfield recorded a track that was featured on the “Sons of Anarchy” soundtrack, as well as releasing his long awaited follow-up to Planet 9, “The Black Hesh Cult Mixtape”, featuring production by Balthazar Getty, and Bravin.
Currently, Warfield is playing in Dream Club, a side project which also features his wife, Stefanie Warfield, as well as producing and mentoring acts such as The Bots and Nova Rockafella.
Adam Bravin (bass/keyboards) has just an impressive a resume, being the current President of the United States favorite DJ (playing at a majority of the POTUS’ events), as well as the late Prince’s; if that wasn’t enough, Bravin also helps hosts Giorgio’s, the Moroder named and inspired gathering which celebrates the gems of the disco era, and Cloak & Dagger, an Eyes Wide Shut type event minus Tom Cruise, which you can only gain access to via mythical black cards and wearing all black attire at an undisclosed basement in California, where Bravin spins incredible goth, dark-wave and rap sets.
Following SWR’s hiatus, he went to work on his long teased solo endeavour, Love, Ecstasy, Terror, which finds the often shy Bravin, taking vocal duties for the first time, with his debut release due soon.
Whether it’s the culmination of the freedom in creativity, or the maturity of ten years, if not both, it is nothing short of explosive when the band do arrive on stage, alongside guitarist Thomas Froggatt and original drummer, Scott Ellis, both on stage and in crowd, met with an applause that literally shook the venue.
There is a danger in album revivals; it is a potent mixture as one wrong element and it can become a money scheme (names will not be named), or even monotonous.
However, if done right, it’s nothing short of a fan and new listener’s, greatest dream as the opportunity warrants the long reached possibility of hearing those favorite songs live for the first time.
It’s in this category that the band fall under, with both Froggatt and Ellis adding to the power of this long underrated album that turned the floor into an entity and instrument all it’s own, bathed in pink light.
She Wants Revenge made good of the ten years since it’s release, playing the album in it’s entirety with a passion, heart and soul that filled the air.
Hearing tracks such “Broken Promises For Broken Hearts” as well as “Red Flags & Long Nights”, you get slightly saddened that the band have only just recently become a household name, following their song included in films such as “The Number 23” and more recently in FX’s American Horror Story: Hotel series, where the episode featured cult classic “Tear You Apart”.
The album remains hugely ahead of it’s time, predicting the dark-wave revival that was to follow in the years ahead, while being overshadowed by the British/New York rock that dominated the airwaves and festival circuits, though it did not go unnoticed, as the latter track saw them play The Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live in it’s release, which culminated in opening for Depeche Mode during 2006’s “Playing The Angel” tour, and even The Cure later on.
And it’s the aforementioned maturity that propels the performance even further, with Warfield fully embracing the frontman status, dancing to classic tracks such as “Sister”, “I Don’t Wanna Fall In Love”, and “These Things”, which saw the crowd burst into a collective goosebump inciting sing-a-long.
Bravin was also more confident in his own immense talents, speaking to the crowd to thank them for coming out, as well as playing Martin Gore like instrumental track, “Disconnect”, met with massive appreciation, which was mutual, as Warfield later stating that the Revolution venue, and city, was one of their favorites to play at.
As the chronological album playthrough wrapped up and the band departing for the encore, you see just how much SWR gratuitously spoil their fans.
As if the night wasn’t already enough, the quartet came back to perform fan favorites that were requested over social media platforms, such as “Take The World”, 2007’s “Written In Blood”, and “Replacement”.
And as Blade Runner inspired “Rachael”, began to play, that same elated sadness seeped back into the air.
But instead of tears and nostalgia, you danced. You shouted out the intimate lyrics of the track, swaying with all the energy you had left. Not because you had to, but because you wanted to.
Because just as in decrees of love in the rain, whether it was a sad departure or a happy ending, that love remains, beating in the night.
And as in love, it’s not goodbye, but ’til death do us part.