I hopped in my car with my camera, batteries charged, and headed to Lawrenceville for my first ever trek to The Thunderbird Café and Music Hall to witness The Vault Records presents: Royal Honey & Friends – Sweet Heat CD Release party. The night featured Domenic Fusca, The Borstal Boys, Slam Band & Sam, The Cheats, and Royal Honey.
Let’s start out with talking about The Thunderbird Café and Music Hall. It took two trips around Butler Street before I lucked out and found the perfect parking spot. Parking in Pittsburgh is definitely at a premium. That is the closest to a complaint that you’re going to hear from me about the whole night. You enter the venue through a very unassuming storefront into a barroom fitting the size of the building. Straight ahead there is a small glass enclosed stage, where Domenic Fusca was performing when I arrived. You head down 3 flights of steps into a hidden gem of a venue. They are housing one of the most amazing stages that I have ever seen. It is hard to believe that it fits in the building! It was clean, and kept that way by a very diligent staff throughout the night! There is a full bar, a kitchen, a green room, loading dock, and more. It seemed like a scene out of a Harry Potter movie. You walk into a small building, and end up in a huge open area! I really do love this venue and hope that you all have a chance to experience it.
Unfortunately, I have to admit I didn’t hear too much of Domenic’s set as I headed to the main stage area and got caught up with friends that I haven’t seen for quite some time thanks to the pandemic. There were many musicians from the local scene hanging out and enjoying the show. I saw Chip Domenic (Chip and the Charge Ups), Jazz Byers (Silk 9, Homicide Black, hALF wHEEL), everyone from Middle Finger, & Tony Vinski (The Redlines) to name just a few. As Domenic’s set ended, things started to pick up downstairs when The Borstal Boys took the stage bringing us their rock stylings. They also featured a group of young gentleman in a horn section on this night, as well as Gallo Locknez, who added a bit of hip hop to their new single, Walkin’ Away. Up next was Slam Band & Sam. This was my first time seeing them perform live. I spent most of the set trying to decide what genre I would place them in. They seem to be equal parts of jam band, soulful blues, dance, with a dash of jazz, and just plain fun. The musicianship that they provided to the evening was nothing short of brilliant. With a few hard sets to follow already finished, The Cheats took the venue by storm. This wasn’t my first time seeing them live, but it was my first time to catch their whole set. From the playful, yet aggressive banter in between songs to the loud and in your face punk, they left me wanting more! This band delivers on all points, having been part of the Pittsburgh music scene for over 20 years.
Now we have reached the crescendo of the evening, the Pittsburgh based rock band, that I like to describe as sleaze rock, Royal Honey. Their setlist contained but wasn’t limited to, songs off of their first EP, Hype, Money And Misbehavior and all seven rocking tracks off of their brand new EP, Sweet Heat! They oozed energy, machismo, and everything else that you’d want to hear and see live from a band within this genre. Eric and Dave’s two-headed guitar attack kept the musical arsenal moving throughout the evening, while Greg and Angel O held down the low end driving this well oiled machine through their sex (and old western?) laden lyrics. To me, Bobby C’s vocals bring to mind well known vocalists such as Bon Scott, Brian Johnson, and Steven Tyler wrapped into one. Going to a Royal Honey show takes me back to my younger days when I hung out in amphitheater with some of my old friends: KISS, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Def Leppard, and even Poison.
All-in-all, this was a tremendous line-up at an unbelievable “hidden” venue that left me wanting more! You can purchase your copy of Sweet Heat on the normal online services, at one of their upcoming shows (I suggest next week’s Gigaroo show), and through their online store.