“Guitar is dead on the radio,” my friend working for a local HTX radio station told me one night. It broke my heart. We were discussing how Houston’s local NGENRadio had transformed while he worked as DJ and radio personality there. It went from a fusion of Christian Rock/rap and hip hop to just top 40. Hence his earlier statement.
Since then, I’ve been on a mission to prove guitars still have a place on the radio. The Struts are a perfect example. Their first single “Could Have Been Me” is a powerful rock ballad filled with determination to never let a day go to waste. Every time I hear it on the radio, I find myself screaming out, past my sunroof, to anyone else on the road who happens to have their windows down. Every other song on their album is filled with that same angst and determination. It’s so raw and passionate, the energy is almost tangible when they play their songs live. Below is a clip from one of my favorite break up songs ever: Kiss This.
Seeing them on Free Press Summer Festival’s lineup was one of the main reasons that I spontaneously bought tickets. They were the first act I dragged my friends to. When we first got there, the lawn wasn’t too packed. We found a nice spot on the hill that got us a great view of the stage. Then by the time the band was in full swing, the crowd had almost tripled in size. I was even beginning to resent choosing the shadier option on the hill instead of jumping into the crowd with everyone else.
When Luke Spiller, their lead vocalist, came out in his classic rock getup, leather pants included, I beamed with pride. I couldn’t believe this band was really a part of my generation! The fact that they’ve opened for other classics like The Rolling Stones and Mötley Crüe makes total sense. Also, the fact that he rocked the entire set with those pants on during an outdoor Houston festival in the middle of summer already shows tremendous will power and dedication.
With those pants, that accent, Luke’s general mannerisms, and the band’s boldness to challenge traditional radio music, it’s no surprise that the quartet reminds me of a modern Queen. Some have said that Fun. was our generation’s reincarnation of the classic British rock band, but that was obviously before The Struts had made a name for themselves. The real kicker was the way Luke pumped up the crowd. It was almost identical to a part from the one concert I wish I could travel back in time to: Queen at the London’s Wembley Stadium in 1986. Just for comparison, I attached Freddie Mercury’s vocal improv along with a portion of Luke’s from this year’s FPSF. I mean sure, other bands/artists always have a little vocal improv, but rarely is it as extravagant as these.
The band claims to be “America’s band” despite them being from the UK because we’ve given them an unforgettable welcome. Now I know they probably say that to all the countries, but I do sincerely hope they keep considering us their second home. I want them here performing as much as possible. Since they’re already working on their second album, hopefully it’s not long until they go back on tour. My friend has already been convinced by the band to see them live with me the next time their on tour. They’re a true depiction of what rock and roll should always be: blaring guitars, angsty vocals, and the desire to shove the normal or expected out the window. That’s why I’m so proud to call them my favorite band (that’s actually still together).
If you want to check out more live footage from FPSF or any other show in general, make sure to check out my YouTube channel! The Strut’s performance of Put Your Money On Me is another one of my favorite’s from their setlist.