It’s Flashback Friday! And there is no better way to kickoff this series than to talk about the band that inspired me to start this website: Radkey! That’s right, the idea for Bands in the Bus came to me at a Radkey show, but more on that later because I‘d rather talk about their newest single that just dropped today!
That’s right, Radkey released a new song and I already have the chorus of "Games (Tonight)" stuck in my head. How could I not? This sneak preview of the latest iteration of Radkey’s musical evolution is intoxicatingly rich and has left me enchanted to say the least. Radkey first appeared on my radar five years ago, when they were added to the festival lineup for Rock on the Range and Louder Than Life. But it was their performance at Louder Than Life that converted me into a loyal fan. Other, more fortunate RadCats, have been lucky enough to watch this musical trio of brothers evolve for more than a decade.
Dee, Isiah, and Solomon have been writing and playing music together since childhood and started touring as teenagers, meaning they literally grew up before their fan’s eyes. While I wasn’t lucky enough to witness their origins, I have seen them grow as musicians throughout their 20s with each subsequent single, LP, and full-length album showcasing increasing depth, complexity, and nuance. And with the release of Games (Tonight) today, I feel like I can safely say that we about to see a meteoric metamorphosis as they transition from being talented musicians to masterful artists.
Isiah has always been a stalwart powerhouse of a bass player, but as he hones his craft, he continues to experiment with creative ways to juxtapose thunderous rhythms with sinewy yet sensual backing melodies. But he isn’t the only one who has grown. Sol, who is the youngest member of the band and by default the least experienced musician, seems to have grown exponentially in the last year while touring with the Foo Fighters. While he has long shown his mastery of the foundational rudiments which give the band its steadfast, unwavering heartbeat, you can now hear the influence of both Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins in his more dramatic backbeats and drum fills. And finally, there is Dee, whose range and flexibility as a vocalist and guitarist continue to mature. I think he displays his most melodic guitarwork to date on Games (Tonight) with riffs that showcase the growth he made while touring with the Foo Fighters along with their influence which adds incredible depth to this new single. His bluesy vocals serenade with savory tonality, and his delectably robust voice will have the hook echoing in your mind for hours.
But back to the show that inspired this website…
I had the pleasure of seeing Radkey with Local H at A&R Music Bar on October 24th and that show was something special in part because I hadn’t seen Radkey live in two years. The last time I saw Radkey prior to that night was at Rumba Cafe on October 8th, 2019. So it was pretty damn close to being two years to the day and A LOT can change in two years, including crowd size. Although Radkey was opening they drew a crowd that could easily drawf the crowd that came out for their headlining show at Rumba Cafe two years earlier.
The show got off to an unusual start as two die-hard Radkey fans were randomly yowling like feral cats in heat as we waited for Radkey to take the stage. At first I thought I was having either auditory hallucinations or a unnerving paranormal experience until other baffled audience members were looking to me to confirm that I too heard the same bizarre noise. The situation soon came to a head as an audience member confronted one of the men and a fight almost broke out. Luckily, before the first punch was swung, Radkey took the stage and tempers cooled as the first notes rung out.
It became abundantly clear by the end of the first song that touring with such a dominant, chart-charting band like the Foo Fighters can change a band. Although I have heard the majority of the setlist live before, it felt like an entirely new experience. Radkey has always been great live and the majority of their on-stage antics are not new. However, the combination of the elevated stage at A&R Music Bar and their increased confidence made them look like true rockstars. Isiah has always been the most difficult member of the band to photograph because of how much he works the stage but his stage presence is even more intense now. At certain points during show, he even looked like a young Gene Simmons, especially on Delicious Rock Noise songs, that he has been playing for years. Playing sold out stadiums and arenas changes a band, especially when you are opening for one of the biggest bands of all time and winning over audiences.
In closing, Games (Tonight) furthers proves what I already know, Radkey has the potential of being one of the most influential rock bands of all time. And after touring for over a decade, they are finally starting to get the recognition they deserve. Touring with the Foo Fighters has only made them better both in terms of musicality and showmanship. It’s the difference between believing in your dreams and living them that can transform your confidence. The best part, I have been following this band for nearly half a decade and I feel like I have only witnessed the opening chapters of their amazing rise to fame.