Indiana has long been dubbed the “Crossroads of America”. Never was that more evident than at a small theater called the Vogue in the Broad Ripple section of Indianapolis on 10/13/15. You could see everything from a demure housewife standing next to a young guy in a denim vest sporting various death metal band logos and inverted crosses. Blue collar workers standing next to white collar workers. Young adult next to those 70 plus. You might be wondering what could bring all these different types of people together in one place. Well, the answer is very simple: Tim Sult, Dan Maines, Jean-Paul Gaster and Neil Fallon, otherwise known as Clutch.
Why would this band bring together such a wide array? That is a hard thing to pinpoint. Maybe because they are unassuming rock stars. Never ones to wear flashy stage wear, they simply wear t-shirts, jeans and ball hats…they look just like us, and you could honestly walk right by them without taking notice. Putting forth songs with intelligent and often times thought provoking lyrics that truly speak to people. In the world of hard rock, Clutch is America’s band and there is something there for everyone.
I have seen Clutch live more than any other band and there is no show I look more forward to each year than this one. With a new album, Psychic Warfare, freshly out, their annual trip to the Vogue Theater could not have come at a better time. Few bands could sell out the Vogue on a Tuesday night, but Clutch is one of them. If this show was not sold out it could only have been a couple of dozen shy of it. With local favorite Sun King being consumed everywhere around, the place was shoulder to shoulder.
With Chuck Brown’s “We Need Money” blaring from the speakers, Clutch made their appearance and launched into a song from the new album, “X Ray Visions”. The glory to a Clutch show is that their catalog is so large and has no bad songs, that they have so much material to pull from for their set list that every time you see them you are treated to something new. But as always, their opening song is an up-tempo rocker that is full of energy guaranteed to get the crowd moving. “Firebirds!”, also from the new album followed and the electricity in the room continued to build. “Crucial Velocity” was up next and by this time not a single person in attendance was standing still. Fallon controls the crowd with a simple wave of his hand and all are ready to do his bidding. “The Dragonfly”, “Burning Beard”, “A Quick Death In Texas” followed before the guys took us back to 1998 with Clutch staple “The Elephant Riders”. After the crowd finished singing along with “Elephant”, we were treated to another song from the new album, “Behold The Colossus”.
It was at this point that Clutch slowed it down. Had they not, someone in the ever moving crowd may have had a heat stroke as the temperature inside the theater felt like it had risen into triple digits. A slow, bluesy riff started ringing out and the soon to be classic “Our Lady Of Electric Light” ensued. The crowd simply swayed, mesmerized by the performance of this song. However, this lull would not last long as “Your Love Is Incarceration” got the fans quickly moving again. Neil told us at the beginning of the show that we would be getting a lot of material from the new album and there were no complaints to the song choice being played, but they were about to take us back to some of their best loved work.
As the opening line, “please allow me to adjust my pants, so that I may do the good time dance”, was uttered, the crowd absolutely went wild as “The Mob Goes Wild” got underway. Followed up by “Pure Rock Fury”, Clutch was delivering what may be the best show I’ve ever seen from them. Tim, Jean-Paul and Dan’s playing was so precise that this show would have been a perfect one to record for a live album. Neil’s vocals were also flawless, sounding and looking better than the last two times they tore through Indianapolis.
One of the really cool things about this show was watching a good friend of mine enjoy his first time seeing Clutch. I could tell he finally understood all of my preaching about this being one of the best shows he’d ever see. Which is funny to say as there is no pyrotechnics or special lighting effects and no gimmicks. This is just straight forward the best damn rock and roll you could ever be witness to.
New songs “Noble Savage” and “Son Of Virginia” finished up the round of songs from the new album. “D.C. Sound Attack!” rounded out the set as the electricity and energy flowing through the air had turned the place into a sauna. After a brief exodus from the stage, Clutch returned with an encore that began with “The Face”. “Animal Farm”, one of my favorite Clutch songs, and one that I am not sure I have ever seen them do live, followed and led up to “Electric Worry”. The crowd shout along of “Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang…Vamonos, Vamonos” nearly drowned out the band. Thanking Indianapolis, the song was finished and another Clutch show at the Vogue was over. We will all wait with eager anticipation for them to return, and when they do, we will all be there again.