Rock ‘n’ Roll on fire


Jacob Ennis

Royal Bliss was one of five hard rock bands to take the stage at the Regent Street Retreat on March 1.

Ryan Spoehr, Editor

It was a night packed with up-and-coming bands, marquee names and an unrivaled passion for rock music at the Regent Street Retreat with five bands rocking downtown Madison.

“This is quite a lineup,” said Darick Parson, lead singer of Soulicit. “You don’t see a lineup like this every night.”

On March 1, hard rockers Soulicit, Sand, Wayland, Royal Bliss and Bobaflex took the stage at the venue formerly known as The Annex. The whole night was a display of people who love rock music whether it was out in the crowd or up on stage.

“This is what we want to see across the country,” Parson said. “We want to see rock be like it was in the ‘70s and ‘80s where people just loved it and came out for it like this.”

The night officially started with a performance from Soulicit, a new face on the rock scene after playing on Hard Drive XL and the release of their brand new album, “Parking Lot Rockstar.” Their show included songs like “Beauty Queen” and their new single, “Hell Yeah.” The performance of Soulicit was critically acclaimed for many things throughout the night, but particularly the performance by Dan Weaver, nicknamed “The Danimal,” who is the lead guitarist and a vocalist for the group.

“How about the ‘Danimal?’” said Neal Middleton, lead singer of Royal Bliss. “He can really rip it up on guitar can’t he?”

There was no doubt however that the night belonged to veteran rock bands Royal Bliss and Bobaflex. Once it was time for Royal Bliss to take the stage, the room filled and an already energized crowd came unglued.

Royal Bliss has had a 14-year journey in music that has not been easy. At one time, they were nicknamed “The Unluckiest Band in Rock.” The band has “been through enough to justify their own VH1 Behind The Music episode,” according to their website. In 2004, Middleton fell from a fourth-story balcony in Southern California and was told he would never walk again. The band also has faced problems with addiction. However, now they have the opportunity to play in front of a crowd like the one at the Regent Street Retreat and they did not disappoint.

After hitting the stage, Middleton and the rest of Royal Bliss played songs such as “All in My Head,” “I Got This,” and their new single “Save Me.” When the band performed “I Got This,” the crowd sang along with passion that rivaled any other reaction from the night from. They sang loud. They sang proudly and they did not let up even slightly until Royal Bliss departed from the stage.

That atmosphere just continued into the next performance, the headliners of the show, Bobaflex. The room was as full and loud as it was with Royal Bliss. They played tracks from their recent album “Hell in My Heart” that peaked at 49 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. The songs included “Bury Me With My Guns,” their newest single “Chemical Valley” and a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.”

From top to bottom, the show at the Regent Street Retreat proved that a genre of music that regularly had bands transcend into the mainstream 30 years ago, still has a presence today. Even if it may not be as prevalent as in the days of Black Sabbath and at the genesis of the careers of AC/DC and Metallica, it is still here. Rock is still a brand of music that is a healthy alternative out there for those of us who do not have plans to actively listen to Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber anytime soon.