Written By Braddon S.Williams aka “The Concert Critic”
On this date in history, 3/9/2022, All Them Witches and The Swell Fellas played an impressive demonstration of, well…swell and witchy tunes for a cozy crowd of music lovers at The Vogue in Broad Ripple. My wife had turned me on to All Them Witches and at some point, she purchased the tickets and surprised me with the gift of this cool little show. I did some homework and discovered these guys have been active for the past decade and that their music has been classified under an impressive list of adjectives: blues rock, hard rock, stoner rock, acid rock, neo-psychedelia, heavy metal, folk, and Southern rock. In my humble opinion, All Them Witches have crafted a spicy blend of all those genres and charted their own course with loads of creativity and a unique ambience that is distinctly their own. Additionally, the band members have admitted to a wildly diverse set of influences, and I was fascinated to hear how all of this disparity somehow has coalesced into a sound that is both reminiscent of the classic hard rock of the ’70’s and yet is miles beyond that, a hybrid stew of moody brilliance and a fresh perspective of the daunting history of the darker elements of rock music in general. Going into this experience with a very limited exposure to All Them Witches allowed me to just focus on the music, and the music was a blast, ever changing in dynamics and moods.
I found myself really drawn to Ben McLeod’s lead guitar playing right away, and his solos were like mini songs by themselves, ultra-lyrical and passionate, with just the right balance of technique and feel, and in the great acoustics of The Vogue his playing was definitely a highlight.
Vocalist Charles Michael Parks Jr. has a limited range but uses it wisely and his voice fits the vibe of the songs quite well. As the band’s lyricist, he knows how to use his vocals to the best advantage and chooses just the right spots to place the vocals. Although they played songs from their entire career, the newest album Nothing As The Ideal got the most attention, as five songs from it were played at our show.
Saturnine & Iron Jaw was a strong but slow building opener, setting the pace for other standout tracks like Enemy Of My Enemy, See You Next Fall, Everest, The Children Of Coyote Woman, When God Comes Back, and the finale, Swallowed By The Sea. All Them Witches came back for a well-deserved encore comprised of Blood And Sand and Milk And Endless Waters.
Nashville transplants The Swell Fellas played a strong opening set of their specialized heavy psychedelic drenched rock. The power trio set up some pretty impressive grooves, but I felt their songs could have used some extra work as the formula seemed to remain the same throughout their stage time. Still, they played with confidence and were certainly a good fit to tour with the headliners. I thought the blending of the bass player and drummer’s voices was a nice touch, as it provided more layers to their overall sound.
All in all, it was a great evening of musical discovery and fun at the venerable Vogue, a venue that nearly always impresses with its staging, lights and sterling sound. I recommend All Them Witches to anyone seeking something off the beaten path. They play intelligent songs and perform them with intensity and passion, and they are one of the bands keeping the traditions of rock alive while simultaneously taking it to new, interesting avenues.