First, let me announce my excitement at the fact that the recently Grammy-nominated rock band, Highly Suspect, played in our little neck in the woods, at the strangely home-like Chameleon Club in downtown Lancaster.
Combine the surprise of scoring low-priced tickets the day of the event with the thrill of Halloween night, and you’ll get a Mickayla all-but drooling on the floor with excitement.
Highly Suspect has garnered plenty of much-deserved attention over the past year or two. Their most recent album, “The Boy Who Died Wolf, “features instant hits, such as “My Name is Human” and “Little One.” And, anyone who has listened to the local modern rock station, 105.7 The X, practically regards Highly Suspect as a household name by now.
My concert partner and I stood in the cold for maybe five minutes before a bouncer from the Chameleon came out to summon people to the Will Call line. To my surprise, this landed us with a spot only two heads behind the stage. For a sold-out show, the spot was pretty impressive.
The first 40 minutes of the show were spent with an agitated DJ on stage repeatedly playing the same beat with a slightly different bass drop sprinkled in every five minutes. I’m still not sure if he was an opener, as he started without introduction, only speaking to ask for things from the stage crew.
When two ladies, adorned with excessive face paint and disheveled wedding dresses, graced the stage, it was obvious that this would mark the start of an overwhelmingly fun night. All the way from Camden in England, Bones rocked their hearts out.
The unapologetic lead singer, Rosie, sang tales of self-love, acceptance and gender roles with a mesmerizing amount of passion. The guitarist, Carmen, was arguably the most captivating performer of the night, however, with riffs that could make even the most jaded person prickle with goose bumps. The fact that Bones isn’t internationally recognized is baffling. Imagine the sexual energy of Maria Brink from “In This Moment,” mixed with the soul of Carrie Underwood and a little bit of Nine Inch Nails electronic influence added in for extra flavor.
After quite a while, three spirited goofballs appeared on stage dressed in Halloween Costumes. Johnny Stevens, the lead singer and guitar player for Highly Suspect, wore a pink wig and enough toilet paper to clean out the closest Costco. The bassist, Rich Meyer, wore a full-body cat costume, and the drummer, Ryan Meyer, wore nothing but a bathrobe. And, the best part, they all came armed with toilet paper rolls to throw into the audience.
It would be outstandingly easy to elaborate on how impressive each live rendition of the band’s chosen set-list lineup was; at the end of the day, they played with everything they had. Johnny embodies the music that he plays, the passion showing on his face as if he was taken to paradise every time he played his guitar. Rich held his bass as if it was the very lifeblood keeping him alive, and Ryan gave every single bit of his energy to produce drum beats that the audience could feel in every single breath.
Songs like “Serotonia,” my personal favorite, were selected and sung with raw emotion that easily captivated the audience. “My Name is Human,” on the other hand, was performed with an intentionally harsh sound that enthralled the audience with the pure mess of it all. The band’s bluesy rock sound is remarkably easy to lose yourself in; you can head-bang if you’d like, you can sway, or you can close your eyes and take it all in. Everything goes: there is no right or wrong way to listen to Highly Suspect.
At the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine that anyone had a bad time. The entire crowd seemed starry-eyed and amazed throughout the entirety of the set, and for a venue packed completely to capacity, that idea seems practically impossible. Throughout the concert, the question of “why aren’t these guys headlining arena tours?” bombarded my thoughts. But, after seeing them live, it’s obvious that that’s the next step.
And, as I flip Johnny’s guitar pick in my hand repeatedly—catching the pick was probably my biggest highlight of 2017—I can’t help but feel like this was perhaps one of the best shows I have ever been to, despite seeing hundreds of iconic shows before them. It’s overwhelming to think that all of this went down in the little Chameleon Club right down the road, but I left very confident in knowing that this would not be the last I saw of Highly Suspect.