If there is a record to be set for the amount of Fuel shows one can go to in a short span of time, I may have set it this past weekend. Sept 27th marked my sixth show in four months and I am by no means complaining. US 12 Bar in Wayne, MI brought back a series started a few years ago called Big Band Small Bar and requested Fuel to be the band to kick off the re-start. They could not have brought in a better choice.
US 12 owner, John Goci said that they started the series a few years ago with band Finger Eleven. While it was successful, he was always mindful of the budget that accompanies such a show and did not want to make any decisions that wouldn’t be beneficial for business. He spoke of the many costs involved with such a production. Not only do you have to pay the artist, there are hotel costs, PA, sound, and a backline need to be brought in. Stages have to be built according to the band’s specifications, there are several thousand dollars of advertising costs to promote the event, extra security needs to be hired, and the list seemed to go on. Goci, being a big fan of Fuel decided to take the idea and run with it against the advice of his management. John believed in his decision and knew that even though they did not have a lot of time to promote the show, if done correctly people would come. He hired 7 Stone Management, owned by Janel Stone, a 20+ year veteran in the entertainment business to market the event. He knew that she would be perfect for what he needed to make this show successful. He was correct. As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw that I would have to drive around to find a space and when I walked in, the bar was packed.
Critical Bill was direct support for Fuel and delivered a raw, high-energy set of their blended rock/rap style sound. Having just released a new CD titled The New Eternal, this was the perfect outlet to deliver their new music to people who may not have been exposed to them before. This band are no strangers to opening up for huge National acts as they have played with Candlebox, Puddle of Mudd, Buckcherry, and a host of others. After playing with Tech N9ne and being featured on his CD Everready: The Religion, Critical Bill built a huge following and have continued to see success not just in Michigan but across the country.
Then it was time for the main event. I took my spot side stage and got ready to sing along to all of my favorite songs as Fuel had a 90 minute set scheduled. For those who have not been paying attention, Fuel has had an incredible 2014. They have been touring in support of their latest CD Puppet Strings which is the first album released by the band since singer Brett Scallions came back to the band and restructured it’s lineup. Now backed by former Shinedown bass player Brad Stewart, guitarist extraordinaire Andy Andersson, and Detroit native and former drummer from Puddle of Mudd, Shannon Boone, Fuel has re-emerged as a presence to be reckoned with. They have been touring the country non-stop and have made appearances at several festivals this year including Rock On The Range, Festapalooza, and the Stars and Stripes Festival. They are also slated to play the Louder than Life festival Saturday Oct 4 in Kentucky.
They took the stage and went right into “Untitled”, which is one of my absolute favorite songs so I knew I was in for a good night. It was fun to watch the crowd get into songs like “Bad Day” and “Sunburn” which is preceded by a fantastic guitar into by Andy, as well as my personal favorite “Falls on Me” which even after over 10 years still makes me emotional. You could hear people singing along and having a great time. They also played several new songs like “Time 4 Me 2 Stop” and the title track to the album “Puppet Strings”. Brad Stewart’s stage presence was in full effect as he jumped around the stage dreadlocks flying through the air. Although tucked in the back of the stage kind of out of view of the audience, Shannon’s drumming was just as hard hitting as ever and I think that the crowd interaction just fed the band’s energy as they seemed to get more and more into the set as the night went along. When Brett asked the crowd if they wanted to hear a song from 1998, I knew that it was time for fan favorite, “Shimmer”, and as soon as he began singing you could feel the crowd’s energy climb even higher. One of the things I love about this band is that they still play songs that were on the first few albums. Not only are they still played they are performed with the same intensity as when they were first written. I have encountered many bands who feel that as time goes on, the older songs become less relevant and I vehemently disagree.
They rounded out their set with another new one “Cold Summer”, which is the latest single released from the album. Fuel recently made a video for this song and you could tell how much fun they had while making it. The last song of the set was of course their biggest hit to date “Hemorrhage”. I still remember how much impact this song had on me when it was released and if the crowd’s reaction was any indication, it still has the same effect.
As previously stated, this was my sixth Fuel show in four months but this is such a great band with such a great presence, that I would probably be willing to go to six more if the opportunity presented itself. If you have not been to a recent show, I definitely recommend going. For more on Fuel and to keep up to date with the tour visit www.fuelrocks.com and www.facebook.com/fuelofficial