words by Floco Torres; photos by Ashley Kouri
In my ten years of playing and attending shows, I’ve learned that you rarely EVER arrive at the venue based on the ‘show starts at this time’ hour that’s posted. You usually never know if the time posted is when the doors open or when the show starts. If the time posted is 8 pm (like it was for the Red Rose Panic show), then I try to come through between 9 – 9:30 pm (which is when I showed up). I’m familiar with The Vortex, so I wasn’t surprised that there were only about 20 of us patiently waiting, because most of their shows have had a later influx of traffic.
We waited about an hour (Well, I did. Our photographer Ashley had been there since 8 pm. She knows the rule I mentioned above now though.) before the opener Ebony Red took the stage as a four piece band. Most of her backing band is made up of Red Rose Panic, so the musicianship helped accompany Ebony’s exceptional vocals through a short set of covers. Although she needed to read the lyrics to a few songs from her phone, her willingness to “sing like it was 10,000 of us” made her performance enjoyable.
There was a weird lull between sets and I assumed it was because the attendance numbers were a bit low (we eventually made it to about 30 people). We hear the “give it 100% every time you perform no matter how many people blah blah” speech, but every musician knows that a low attendance or a flat-energy crowd can weigh on your mind for the night. Nevertheless you have to push through. The last live shows where I’ve seen Red Rose Panic have had similar turnout, despite their incredible momentum in 2017 so far.
A big part of that momentum surfaced around a new song: a Cleveland Cavaliers anthem entitled “Defend The Land,” which was a song I hadn’t heard yet. While they told us about it, they didn’t play it. I’m not sure why, but I nodded along as they ran through some of their material that I recognize. Styxx is usually the anchor for the band’s energy when they play live, but for this show I felt like Luminari was as solid as I’ve ever seen him. He commanded the few of us with punch and diction while delivering his lyrics. The band at times looks like an oil painting that comes alive in the corner of your eye, but when you look they freeze back in place. It’s still captivating to look at, but only if you catch that split second.
Red Rose Panic makes awesome spring/summer/party jams, so the vibes are always consistent throughout the show. Luminari & Styxx made it a point to thank the few of us that came out and supported them “before they get famous.” Their set weirdly ended when a fan drunkenly got on stage and wanted to take a picture with Luminari, and somehow this spiraled into wanting an individual picture with each band member. I don’t blame them for being done at that point. There aren’t many ways I can think of to bounce through that randomness positively. I left The Vortex knowing one thing: I like Red Rose Panic and I can’t wait to be at that packed out show when I can see them go all out.