SYRACUSE — A starry Saturday night in Syracuse still witnessed a Storm that raged inside the Huntington Street Bar & Grill.
Playing in front of a healthy team of Stormtroopers, hard rock band Like A Storm weathered a 10-song set that only furthered the love affair of the band’s adoring fan base and extended a hand to those new to the scene. In a new concept to the normally laid back vibe at the bar, Like A Storm not only owned the stage, but may have enticed the city to have the boys back for another round.
While Like A Storm, which hails from New Zealand, have played Syracuse before, taking the floor at Duffy’s as well as personal dates for house shows, the band admitted to enjoying Saturday night’s vibe. A good sized crowd – said to have been sold out but likely numbered no more than 200 at best – still had the feel of a large club atmosphere as the band paraded through ‘Chemical Infatuation’ in its opener. A mid-set acoustic two-fer of ‘Galaxy’ and ‘Southern Skies’ not only allowed the band to show off its talents unplugged, but also personalize with the crowd.
As the band was coerced into their staple cover of AC/DC’s ‘TNT’, the already attentive crowd really began to show life. Local show promoter James Roe was then asked to come on stage to accompany vocals to Alice In Chains’ ‘Man In The Box’, which he sheepishly then aggressively joined lead guitarist Matt Brooks on backing vocals.
Like A Storm ended the night with fan favorite ‘Enemy’, which even the passive fan couldn’t help pumping fists to as the night begrudgingly came to a close. Lead vocalist Chris Brooks commandeered the didgeridoo one last time and gave the regional signal the Storm had officially passed.
What set the concert apart was the tone in which the band held the stage, and the audience of adoring fans. More than willing to interact between songs, even tuning problems from Matt’s guitar lent a chance for Chris to poke fun at his brother’s “less than professional” moment. Even oldest brother Kent, who played bass but looked comfortable out of the bright light, couldn’t help but get in on the fun.
“We never expected anything like this,” Kent said while taking a seat on the stairs behind the bar. Kent couldn’t finish his sentence before a handful of young ladies asked for autographs, but went directly back into his statement, “Our fans are very loyal. They all know each other, and they all go to the shows. They pop up all over the place. Denver, Chicago, New Jersey. They all converged here. It is a mindset.”
The engaging and extremely personable nature of the trio, as well as traveling drummer Roye Robley, who is from nearby Hammond, make evident the reasoning why fans flock from all around as proud Stormtroopers.
“They are genuine, absolutely talented, kind-hearted, they take time with their fans…I’m going to cry,” said Julie Witkowski, who traveled from New Lenox, Ill., to see the show with friends Angie Jenkins and Andi Dalpolo. Jenkins couldn’t help herself as Kent signed her shirt, “I’m not going to lie. They are extremely hot. And they are genuine. Just the real deal.”
While not completely apart from those sentiments, Lisa Tobin and her husband, Chris, paid Syracuse a visit via Oak Park, Mich., just outside Detroit. While Lisa stepped outside just after the end of the show, Chris volunteered to help tear down the equipment so the band could mingle with the fans.
“We saw them play with Shinedown in 2010, and after we saw them at a house show, it’s been on since then,” stated Lisa, who has hosted Like A Storm for a house show at their place and has been hooked ever since. “In the last two weeks, we have seen them at two house shows and three plugged in shows. There is something about these guys, they get it. They aren’t like other rocks stars, these guys actually care about their fans as real people. They are like family to us.”
Robley, who was a fan of the group, got his break during a house show jam that blossomed into a double tour gig that had Like A Storm tour nationally with Creed earlier this year.
“We were just jamming out a little bit, I thought nothing of it,” Robley said. “They sent me a Facebook message asking if I would do some summer shows with them. I guess they had a falling out with their drummer, so I said OK. Next thing I know I’m doing shows on tour for three weeks ahead of Creed. That’s pretty awesome.
“I was doing some orchestral pit work and was pretty busy, but here I am.”
The band are eager their new album, “Chaos Theory”, should drop sometime this week after some technical glitches held up its original release date from last month. Kent Brooks feels the album really had a pace and feel that reaches a broad spectrum of audience, but doesn’t lose its integrity. Just don’t ask him to pick an essential track from the new record.
“Aw man, that’s a really good question, I don’t know,” smiled Kent about the essential track. “I really love them all. I know that might be cliché, but I really do. We decided 100 percent the songs we wanted to make. I really like how the songs have meaning. If I had to pick one, ‘Nothing Remains’ was the first song we wrote for the new batch. That’s when we felt like we were doing something exciting.”
Opening the night was an energetic acoustic set from local artist Easton West, who dedicated a handful of his songs to life’s experiences as well as those who have served our country.
For more information on the band, including information on how to book a private concert at your home or venue, visit likeastorm.com.