Last July, I went with my family and a friend to see the Struts perform live at the Roseland Theater in Portland. The Struts is an incredible glam rock band that I developed an obsession for over the course of many months. After turning the Struts onto my family and one of my friends, we finally got tickets to their Young & Dangerous tour. I’d been heavily anticipating the concert more than anything else that summer, and the day had finally come. The drive into Portland was filled with The Struts’ music and excitement.
The Roseland Theater
After a very filling meal at Boxer Ramen, we walked towards the Roseland Theater. It was about an hour before the doors would open. There were plenty of people wearing Struts merchandise and lots of people representing rock n roll with other band merch. Eventually, a venue employee came out and informed the line that smoking is prohibited, and they began scanning tickets.
We passed through security, scanned our digital tickets, and ran up the stairs into the darkness of the small venue. My excitement for the concert increased with every step towards the darkness and the colorful venue lighting. Inside the Roseland Theater, we claimed spots just shy of the front row. While my father and brother saved our space, my friend and I ran to the Struts merch table to grab a couple of hoodies.
The Roseland Theater only has a capacity of 1,400, so it wasn’t hard for us to find the bathroom when needed. Gradually, more and more people trickled into the theater. It was filling up, and people sang along to the classic rock music that played over the speakers. The air filled with music and chatter as we tried to pass the time by. The doors had opened around seven, and the Struts wouldn’t come on for a few more hours. Luckily, there were two opening acts to keep us wholly entertained.
The Pink Slips
The first opener was The Pink Slips. I had never listened to them before, so I had no idea what to expect. We were all very surprised by the band’s performance, to say the least. The guitar roared to life over the speakers, shocking us all awake from the trance we’d been in. The friend I’d brought with me had never been to a rock concert before, so she had an especially surprised look on her face.
Although I wasn’t familiar with the songs, I was attentive to their whole performance. In fact, I think I was so captivated by their energy that I completely forgot to take any pictures. The lead singer Grace McKagan had a punchy voice and energetic dance moves. The Pink Slips have an incredibly energetic and aggressive performance that’s hard to take your eyes off of. The keys player would headbang so aggressively that I wondered how often he’s hit his head on his instrument in the past. Each member of the band seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and rocking out. Even while singing, Grace McKagan pulled some strange and impressive dance moves. This resulted in a few wardrobe malfunctions, but she didn’t seem to care at all and proceeded to do a backbend on the stage as they finished out their set.
The Glorious Sons
The stage was in darkness when all of a sudden, a pair of lights started flashing. I was practically blinded, but I could still see The Glorious Sons entering the stage. The crowd cheered, and the band launched into “Panic Attack,” a single they had recently come out with last year. I was happy to sing along to every song and watch the lead singer Brett Emmons act like a madman.
My brother and I sang bombastically to “Mama,” and everyone cheered when Brett jumped down from the stage during “S.O.S.” The final song on their set was “Kill the Lights,” and they absolutely blew it out of the water with an incredible solo. The Glorious Sons left me feeling elated by their performance. Although I was disappointed to see them leave the stage, my excitement that the Struts would soon steal the show overcame the sadness.
During the next hour of waiting, we talked excitedly about the opening acts. The stagehands moved aside the drumkit for the Glorious Sons and cleared the stage. We watched excitedly as they tuned the guitars and piano, preparing everything for the main act.
Finally, the stage lights created a rainbow of color, and The Struts entered the stage. As Jed Elliott (bass) and Adam Slack (lead guitar) picked up their guitars, Luke Spiller came running out, clapping his hands above his head and getting everyone pumped up. They opened with one of their most popular songs, “Primadonna Like Me,” encouraging the audience to “bring it on.” We all sang along fervidly. The Struts followed it up by playing “Body Talks” and “Kiss This.” I was exceedingly happy to finally hear Adam’s wonderful solos in person. They played all of their most popular songs right out of the gate, getting everyone psyched for the rest of the show.
In Love With A Camera
I was wondering how it could possibly get any better, but I was quickly shown how. Luke Spiller’s energy radiated off of his glittery outfits as he told us to dance, clap, and sing. He strutted around the stage, singing brilliantly through “In Love With A Camera” and “Fire.” Eventually, Luke jumped onto the piano, which was adorned with a little Freddie Mercury figure, for the song “One Night Only.”
I think we were all sweating from dancing and cheering, especially Luke. Although he had striped glitter onto his cheeks for the show, it was quickly smeared off after the first few songs. During his enthusiastic performance of “Dirty Sexy Money,” he took a moment to shake his head emphatically, throwing sweat at the audience. We all laughed while some people yelled, and Luke went off to change into another shirt.
Luke Spiller quickly returned in an extravagant golden top. He sat on the piano bench to play “Tatler Magazine.” This song is one that I particularly appreciate for its theatrical flair and bombastic nature. They also played “Black Swan” and blended it into “Roll Up.” Geth played a great little drum solo between the two songs.
The energy in the room was infectious, and even though I had been awake since early that morning, and we’d all spent hours standing up, I felt incredibly alive and awake. I think The Struts could have kept the entire audience awake and dancing all night and day. Luke was killing it on stage, and he won our hearts and our cheers even more with the coming songs.
I Do It So Well
The Struts launched into “I Do It So Well,” a very “strutty” song that Luke was especially grooving to. In the midst of the song, Luke went into an excellent monologue that made us laugh and cheer. He gave a wonderful speech on being yourself and not letting people change you. His lovely personality shined, and he continued to command our focus.
After his entertaining monologue, Luke split the crowd down the middle. He had complete control over the audience, encouraging one side to repeat after him, and then the other side. Luke got a rowdy competition going between the two sides of the audience, getting us to scream as loud as we possibly could. Then a member of their crew brought out a device to measure how loud the audience was. The Struts had been measuring the audiences’ volume at every show to see which audience was the loudest. There’s no doubt that the people in that audience were giving it their all. At that point in the concert, my vocal cords were thoroughly worn out, but that certainly didn’t keep me from screaming and singing.
Mary Go Round
I’m sure many people in the audience were a bit spent after the vocal repetition and screaming. It was time to slow down. Geth and Jed left the stage briefly while Adam picked up the acoustic. As Luke began to sing “Mary Go Round,” people began to sway and turn on their phone flashlights. The song was a beautiful cooldown, but it wasn’t long until everyone was dancing again.
Once Jed and Geth returned to the stage, Luke was once more telling the audience to get moving. “Summer’s here, and the time is right for dancing,” Luke sang as they performed “Dancing In The Street.” The space around us flowed as people began to dance. After that, they jumped into “Put Your Money On Me,” and I swear Luke made eye contact with me, but that is still up for debate among my family.
It was nearly the end of the concert. That means it was time for Luke to perform one of his personal favorites, “Where Did She Go.” Before we could begin the song though, Luke explained a little concept they call “Human Fireworks.” Although many in the audience were confused at first, everybody quickly obliged to getting down on the floor. Luke quickly had everyone in the venue, from the pit to the balcony, down on the ground. Patiently, we awaited Luke’s command, and then everyone burst up from the floor at once to raise their arms and dance as the music exploded forth. Surprisingly, Luke actually applauded us for not forgetting the second half of the chorus. He informed us that some audiences have simply forgotten it before, which made us laugh.
The Struts left the stage after their wonderful display of Human Fireworks, but it wasn’t over yet. Luke came on wearing yet another outfit, and the beautiful encore began. He once more sat at the piano to perform the heartfelt songs “Somebody New,” and “Ashes.” He wore a towel around his neck, a testament to his extravagant performance. Finally, the Struts completed their incredible and captivating set with the song “Could Have Been Me.” This song is a crowd favorite, a passionate anthem about living life to its fullest.
As everybody sang along, I felt like the venue was its own little world, encapsulated by the passion and energy that was exuded on stage and within the crowd. When Luke, Adam, Jed, and Geth finally bowed together at the front of the stage, it was a highly bittersweet moment. I can honestly say that this band is the best that I have seen in concert so far. Everyone in the building, from the band to the audience, was having the most fun that they could possibly have. It was one giant dance party! Luke Spiller puts so much effort into interacting with the crowd, and I cannot imagine how he manages to put on such a performance at every show.
When we finally exited the venue and began walking back to the car, every step felt like a chore. I slept incredibly well that night (in my tour hoodie), still feeling very elated from the concert. My vocal cords were also quite happy to get some rest. The next day, the city of Portland leaped onto the “Loudest Crowd in America” scoreboard at number one, and I couldn’t have been more proud. The Struts certainly blew us away, and the opening acts deserve a whole lot of credit as well for bringing intensely energetic performances to the stage. The Glorious Sons is a band that I still listen to today. I’m hoping to see both them and The Struts again in the future.
Of course, the future of concert dates is uncertain during the time of this virus, including The Struts’ upcoming Make It Big tour. Although the dates are being postponed, you can still buy tickets. I know from experience that it is well worth the wait to see this band in concert. Most importantly, if you plan to see these guys in concert, definitely wear the shoes you are most comfortable jumping and dancing in because you’ll certainly need them.
If you’d like to read more about my other crazy concert experiences, you can read my article about seeing Greta Van Fleet last October!