By Mike Romero
On Wednesday night, The Strike welcomed a private audience of about 100 people to Orem’s Audio West to showcase brand new material ahead of their Rooftop Concert Series performance next Friday. We were fortunate to be among the audience, and got to hear the new songs they’ve been working on – songs that will all be given a proper release on their upcoming album.
The Strike has undergone significant lineup changes within the past year, moving from a nine-piece band to a six-piece. The shift within The Strike has changed the dynamic entirely, right down to writing style and sonic structure. While change in the band’s sound is apparent, it doesn’t appear to have affected the quality of their music in the least.
As soon as the band took the stage, there was a noticeable difference in energy compared to past Strike performances. Projected behind them was their updated logo: the once curvy, swoopy font replaced by jagged edges and sharp angles. This idea of roughness was incorporated into the band’s dress. Gone were the matching suit jackets and dress shoes. The mohawked Myles Lawrence wore a jean vest, and the bowtie-less Chris Crabb – still suited – wore an eye catching white suit. It was readily apparent that The Strike wasn’t going to serenade you with big band numbers as you propose to your girlfriend. They had a different story to tell: one of heartbreak, broken promises, and regret.
They kicked things off with the infectious, vindictive “i4Ni.” Marcus Anderson could be heard incorporating synth swells and 80’s synth bass – working in tandem with bassist Chase Baker to fill out the low end and punctuate important moments. The song also featured the beautiful restoration of a full horn section, and a sexy saxophone solo at its climax took the song to new heights. It was also impressive to see Anderson switching roles throughout the song. One moment he’s handling the electronic elements of the song, and the next he’s got his trombone raised, ready for a punchy horn line with the rest of the horn section.
The night was full of surprise twists and turns. Another one of their new songs, “Human Right,” had an ferocious funk guitar breakdown. If you thought The Strike was danceable before, they’ve cranked things up to eleven. While the influence of Marvin Gaye and Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band could be felt on Atom Bomb, The Strike’s latest material seems to have a preoccupation with 80’s pop icons Prince and Michael Jackson.
It seems that the The Strike is developing a more focused, purposeful performance. Crabb told the audience at one point in between songs, “Typically we’re kind of manic, you know? We just get on stage and go go go – high energy all the way though. Tonight’s gonna be a little different. We may slow things down a bit.” Their sound was as tight as I’ve ever heard it. Overall, the band is less manic – more restrained – but they still know how to let their energy loose, as in the conclusion of their song “Say It.”
Towards the end of the show, they brought an updated version of “One Night Of You” (from their We Are the Strike EP) to life. Their sound is evocative of so many past eras: 40’s, 50’s, 80’s, 90’s. But they don’t just hearken back to the tried and true sounds of each time period. They update them and infuse them with the little intricacies modern listeners have subconsciously come to expect over the years.
The last reveal of the night was a pre-screening of their latest music video. I won’t reveal what song it’s for, but the video features production value like you’ve never seen before in a Strike video. Visually stunning, it’s capable of portraying a moving narrative through simple, powerful images.
To conclude, I just want to editorialize a bit here. This is it. This is the tipping point. The time has come for The Strike to hit the mainstream. The band is taking huge steps forward in all aspects: image, branding, performance, songwriting, and production. It’s my prediction that if their new music lands with listeners as it should, it won’t be long until the nation is familiar with the music of The Strike.
Make sure to like The Strike on Facebook, and see them perform at Rooftop Concert Series on May 6th alongside Mimi Knowles and The Aces. You can check out our review of their most recent release here, and watch the music video for their song “Warriors” below.