Rival Sons & Tyler Bryant Confirm The Hype at The Cannery Ballroom in Nashville (SHOW REVIEW)

Believe the hype. From virtually the beginning of their young careers, both Rival Sons and blues guitar player Tyler Bryant have been receiving acclamations for what they were creating. For Bryant, it was the blues via Stevie Ray Vaughan and Lightnin’ Hopkins; a sound which he has taken and expanded upon, especially with his band The Shakedown. At fifteen, he won the Robert Johnson Gibson New Generation Award that spotlights up & coming young guitar players, performed at Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Festival and has opened for the likes of Jeff Beck and BB King. His band is currently on tour opening for AC/DC.

Rival Sons also had good fortune shine upon them early on. Following their formation in California in the late 2000’s, it was the Brits who hung the spotlight squarely on their heads, calling them one of the best bands of 2012 following the release of Head Down, which featured the electrifying song, “Keep On Swinging.” The band begins their tour opening for Black Sabbath on February 25th at Madison Square Garden.

With a few open days, the two bands converged upon the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville for a scorching double bill on February 18th. Between Bryant and Rival Sons’ Scott Holiday, guitars reverberated in bluesy, soul baring solos, while drummers Caleb Crosby and Michael Miley shined in rhythmic beats that had the audience raising their arms in celebration. As Bryant said during his set, “This is a hell of a night to have stayed home.”


Honestly, either of these bands could have headlined but it was Rival Sons’ gig and what a spot on decision to have Bryant and his band open for them. With a few days off, they were happy to be in their adopted hometown, and the support was certainly there. From the beginning intro straight into “Criminal Imagination,” “House On Fire” and “Downtown Tonight,” which featured Graham Whitford on slide, it was rocking on all points. They brought heavy metal-ish tones, ala the darker shades of Sabbath, with “Weak & Weepin” and “Wash Me Holy,” enhanced all the more by bass player Noah Denney; “Loaded Dice & Buried Money” and “House That Jack Built” were balls of fire, the latter an excellent showcase for Whitford to bare his own soloing chops while Crosby tore his drum kit to shreds behind him. Throw in the rascally “Lipstick Wonder Woman,” a slow-building house burner that turned into a hellacious jam in the photo pit when Crosby brought his drum down front and started kicking ass.

Ending with a surrealistic “Wash Me Holy,” Bryant and his gang left the stage with the crowd wanting more. Following their remaining US dates with AC/DC, they will start touring in Europe, playing some shows with them and headlining at clubs. “I feel like we’re always trying to push ourselves,” Whitford told me in a recent interview. With some songs leftover from The Wayside sessions, “great” songs as Whitford calls them, it’s hopeful that more new music will appear before the year is up.


Once Rival Sons hit the stage, it was nonstop, it was vigorous, it was swamped in a psychedelic glow that hummed in the air long after they had left the stage following “Keep On Swinging.” Jay Buchanan, in all his moody ambience, writhed and pleaded in an unearthly spin of flying hair and microphone hugging. At some points, he was like a preacher in a trance leading a spiritual hymnal before exploding into a cry of epiphany. What more could you ask for. There were just so many moments where the music hit you in that sweet spot.

“We keep our shows pretty loose and pretty dirty,” Holiday explained about the band’s sound in a 2012 interview with Glide. “It’s fuzzy, it’s dirty and we do our best to put a bunch of soul into it.” “Electric Man” kicked off things with Holiday’s guitar and Buchanan’s wails and the set list was off the chains from there on out: “Good Luck,” “Manifest Destiny, Pt 1,” “Burn Down Los Angeles,” “Where I’ve Been,” “Tell Me Something,” Open My Eyes” and “Belle Starr.” Fourteen songs altogether.

Some highlights included Dave Beste’s smoky bass solo on “Manifest Destiny, Pt 1” that led into a duet with Holiday’s guitar; Holiday’s solos on “Tell Me Something,” “Electric Man” and “Keep On Swinging;” Miley’s drum solo on “Open My Eyes;” and the heartfelt dedication Buchanan made to his son and fellow musicians leading into “Face Of Light”: “No matter where in the world we are, we’ve been playing it for a few years now. And every night I dedicate this song to my son because I get the feeling there are a lot of touring musicians in the audience that understand exactly what I’m talking about. You get the blues, you miss your kids, it’s just a fact. You chose this road early on so this is for you.”


Truly, Tyler Bryant and Scott Holiday are forces of nature on their respective guitars and should be making Best Guitar Player lists for years to come. Surrounded by the killer musicians they have in their bands, their rise in the world of rock & roll will only continue, as bands like AC/DC and Black Sabbath already are well aware of, picking them for important tours, opening slots other bands would kill for. “You know, we tour all the time, so touring, we’re used to it and we’ve opened for so many bands,” Buchanan told me in a recent interview. “But for Sabbath, we’re particularly excited. It’s such a big deal that I kind of don’t think about it cause that’s pretty mind-blowing.”

So who won the night? The fans. If you’re looking for the future of rock & roll, look no further than these two bands, which on a windy Nashville night, exceeded their potential to heights we wish for when we walk into a concert venue.


To read more from our interviews, click here:

Tyler Bryant

Graham Whitford

Jay Buchanan 

Scott Holiday


Live photographs by Leslie Michele Derrough

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