Barricades Be Damned Girls Like Kaleo
By DONNA BALANCIA
Women power is the name of the game and if you’re a good-looking rocker your worries may be over as far as ticket sales go.
Look at Kaleo. An Icelandic band playing American blues-style music. Lead singer JJ Julius Son is not the only one to take this tried-and-true genre and go big with it. After all, Mick Jagger and The Beatles also did the underrated genre justice and put the music in the spotlight.
But this band — Kaleo — that features a handsome and compelling frontman in Julius Son, drummer David Antonsson, bassist Daniel Kristjansson and lead guitarist Rubin Pollock — is on a tear. They’ve got their share of female fans.
But in the case of Kaleo it’s a good thing the lead singer is holding down the fort in the looks department. The Iceland-based band may be putting a new, rowdy spin on the blues, but it’s a genre that started here in America. And there are plenty of great bands that play the blues — many of which are undiscovered and still trying to get their songs out there.
Julius Son seems to be the crowd favorite as screaming girls threw themselves against the barricades for this hunky Icelander. And while Julius Son is the subject of multiple “New Babe Alert” -type stories where he is shown half nude playing on the beach and showing off an athletic physique, there is little mention of the music.
Kaleo, which has been around since 2012, has actually matured into a band that goes beyond screaming girls – the performance is strong if not a bit too rehearsed. Julius Son seems very unimpressed by the women in the audience trying to get his attention.
And while the barricades at The Wiltern did not come down for Kaleo, it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of the young women at the show.
This is not an area where the Americans are falling behind. The trend of women spending their hard-earned cash on tickets for these hunky guys appears to be here to stay.
The barricades came down when the Buttertones played recently, and that shocked the security and photographers as well as the band members who after the show said they were trying to “process” what just happened. It was a free show, but there were a few thousand wild fans who made it clear what they like.
And maybe the Americans are actually playing catch-up to the Brits, whose Beatles and Stones cornered the market in the 1960s on gate-crashing girls with crushes. Just look at the YouTube videos of the Beatles first trip to America. The hordes of screaming fans were a new and unbelievable craze. It was such a phenomenon that the Beatles even made a few movies playing up their worldwide adventures while being chased by lovesick and frantic fans. Check out the films Help and A Hard Day’s Night and only then it will seem the antics of the Kaleo and The Buttertones fans will seem like baby time.
At The Wiltern, Kaleo played all the favorites in their relatively short career and they were promoting their new music, including the single “No Good,” and their best-known “Way Down We Go.”
Kaleo is on a world tour and the band was joined at The Wiltern by an excellent American band — The Shelters — who really take Rockabilly and blues-rock and produce something that’s current and fun.
The guys put on a show that doesn’t insult the audience members who didn’t come to see a Nordic hunk with a guitar. We were impressed by the poise of The Shelters.
Among the songs they played were “Rebel Heart,” “Ghost is Gone,” and “Birdwatching.” Their songs hit the mark, with twangy surf-soaked riffs and cool beats that put you on your favorite beach with a cheap beer in hand. Now THAT’s a band.
Opener The Band Wilder told the audience they were from Nashville and the sound is just about on the money. Wilder has some chops for a young group. They kept the audience engaged and their music is on the mark.
So we’re not sure if we’re supposed to judge how good music is today by whether or not a barricade crushes us. But it’s clear we don’t need something to fall on us to see the growing influence of women ticket-buyers on music today.