This was a big show for St. Joseph. Sure, it always is when Radkey comes back to play in their hometown but this one was a little bigger. Scruffy & The Janitors signed on to open the show making for a can’t miss bill. Fans packed the hot, sweaty Vous in downtown St. Joseph to make for a killer environment for a Saturday night.
These two bands have an interesting history, sort of a love/hate/jealousy thing. The 6 members of the two bands obviously are friends coming from the same small town and being two of the most successful acts to emerge in the last couple decades. While Scruffy is likely a little jealous of the massive success that Radkey has had, Radkey was never embraced by their hometown the way Scruffy has been either. Whether that is justified or not is beside the point. The combination of these two bands in undoubtedly interesting for the town and the only venue Radkey now plays, The Rendezvous.
Scruffy & The Janitors upped their game for this show as you’d expect. Opening for a very popular local band and knowing that the place would be packed hip to hip in the small shotgun bar. Scruffy dialed in for the show not only because of the magnitude of it but because they are inching closer to the release of their sophomore full-length record “Modeling Is Hard,” an album fans have joked is the new “Chinese Democracy” because of the amount of time the band has taken to put it in fans’ hands.
Lead singer and bass player Steven Foster worked his way through the set once again proving he is one of the best singers in the area and has mastered the scream-singing agenda. Trevin Newton has become a much more relaxed drummer over the years and seems to operate more on feel now as opposed to how technical of approach he previously had. On guitar, Teriq Newton was in top form as well, flipping his sweaty long blonde hair out of his eyes as he lost himself in songs like the extremely dancable “Hermit” is just status quo at this point. They played while screaming millennials snappchatted incessantly on their smart phones with broken screens all while being totally into the show. The band announced the lead single from their new record called “Jonestown” and had it met with an emphatic response. It’s far from the first time they’ve played the new material and it shows. If the new album can regain the momentum the band had about 2-3 years ago they could seriously make some noise with it.
Radkey follows with a no frills intro, they simply set up and play. It’s all business for the band with much less banter than they did in the early days. They pounded through a set of under 40 minutes like they had somewhere to be and for them it works perfectly. The 40 minute power set is what the three brothers, Solomon, Dee and Isaiah Radke, have always stuck with and it’s hard to argue that they aren’t at their best leaving the crowd wanting more. They still dress the same as they did a few years ago while they played older songs like “Cat & Mouse” and “Red Letter” but their stage presence has done nothing but improve.
As they powered into their more popular songs from their newest record “Dark Black Makeup” or “Delicious Rock Noise” depending on which version you have(they are largely the same) the crowd responded by being as loud as they had all night. The songs “Dark Black Makeup” and their set closer “Romance Dawn” are both punky gems filled with giant hooks. Isiah is always the star of the Radkey show because he has the loud personality but Dee’s excellent brooding vocals still drive the band.
There is a lot to Radkey and many reasons for their success. Sure they are talented but aren’t the most talented players in town by any means. They have cornered a stage act and look that really works. It’s not difficult to embrace either, actually quite the opposite. When it comes to putting on a show these guys (still kids really) are pros. They have escaped the label of “local band” and that may be the best compliment they can get.