It’s pitch black on the stage. The lights are off and the sound is growing. Matt Paradis’ silhouette stands boldly as the sound grows. This was the face of Statewide Emergency Saturday night at the Fox Theatre.
The band is the latest local explosion to hit the entertainment sections of Colorado’s papers. They combine a classic rock sound with a modern rock respect that leaves them somewhere in between Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures. Though they’re all college kids, when they took the stage Saturday night at the Fox for their CD release party, they commanded the kind of respect that veteran rockers dream of.
Paradis has the perfect voice for his band. Though it’s barely even audible in the screams and reverb of the concert, it commands the audience’s attention with its assertive nature. He has the kind of voice that smashes boulders when it tells a story. The kind that makes you wonder how he could possibly detect an oncoming bout of strep throat.
Of course, it’s not just Paradis’ voice that’s got the crowd going. Statewide Emergency as a band just reeks with presence. They’re over-the-top without losing their cool. Maybe it’s the feathers they adorn themselves and their instruments with. Maybe it’s the Tesla ball radiating on top of an amp. Maybe it’s just that the band knows exactly how to massage the shoulders of the crowd.
The concert itself got off to a brilliant start with an opening act by the blues-rock-fueled Baseline. However, the other performances by the Stellar Atlas and Rogue Sound, while good in their own virtue, brought the mood of the concert off of its rock orientation. When Statewide finally took the stage, they had to build from the ground up. Which is exactly what they did.
Whether playing their earlier works from Another Point of View or unleashing new material, the band rocked confidently. They followed their inspirations onstage just like they do in studio, epitomizing everything that is rock. When guitarist Luke Johnson wails, it draws back images of all the greats before him. When Paradis howls like a baritone Robert Plant, it fuels the same old Zeppelin vibe.
Though their antics occasionally come of as silly (throwing red bull into the crowd is usually a sign that you need something other than your music to excite the crowd), Statewide has serious drive. If every one of their performances is like the one they had Saturday night at the Fox, Statewide could very well go national.