Howlin Rain, Brooklyn Bowl, NYC – 2/8
“My ears sure are gonna be ringing after this one” was my first thought as I walked out of Howlin Rain’s concert at Brooklyn Bowl. Building off that vintage heavy blues sound, Howlin Rain is a throwback to classic rock’s glory days. With a rhythm section that had the floor of Brooklyn Bowl shaking like an earthquake and a wailing guitar attack, the band has everything it takes to become a rock and roll juggernaut. And they are well on their way there.
After catching the ear of famed music producer Rick Rubin, Howlin Rain is touring in support of an exciting new album, The Russian Winds. Refusing to let the disappointingly sparse crowd at Brooklyn Bowl affect their live energy, they played with the strutting confidence and reckless abandon of a band that knows it is creating magic.
The show focused on material from The Russian Wilds, as Howlin Rain kicked things off with the first song of the album, groovy rocker “Self Made Man.” They then launched into another new one, “Phantom In The Valley.” Featuring impressive, soulful vocals from frontman Ethan Miller, the song exploded when keyboardist Joel Robinow dove into a ripping organ solo before the band moved into a wildly psychedelic jam that evoked vintage Santana. But it was another new song, “Strange Thunder,” that found the band at their most crazed and adventurous. As Miller and guitarist Isaiah Mitchell traded scorching solos, Miller thrashed around the stage and his manic energy took over as he channeled Jimi Hendrix while soloing behind his back and Pete Townsend with leaping guitar windmills.
While “Phantom In The Valley” and “Strange Thunder” shouted that Howlin Rain is fully comfortable with complicated, exploratory jams, other new songs “Can’t Satisfy Me Now” and “Dark Side” feature Miller howling over the band’s soulful strut and show they can hook listeners with catchy rockers too. Though the new material stole the show, Howlin Rain also electrified the crowd with older song “Dancers At The End of Time.” The song featured screaming guitar fireworks from Miller and Mitchell, with a wah wah guitar riff that sounded straight off of Cream’s Disraeli Gears.
Howlin Rain make no attempt to hide their classic rock influences like Cream, Blue Cheer and the Allman Brothers Band. But Miller, who also played in psychedelic garage punk band Comets On Fire, gives the band an experimental, heavy, ear-bleeding edge that few can compete with. Howlin Rain is full of talented and confident musicians who shine as creative, passionate live performers, and, while watching their fierce musical attack; it’s easy to imagine Howlin Rain as that next big rock and roll band.