I was a bit late to the party when it comes to Highly Suspect. Their debut album “Mister Asylum” and it’s Grammy nominated single “Lydia” flew under my radar. So they were new to me when WRIF started playing “My Name Is Human” in 2016. When the album “The Boy Who Died Wolf” came out that fall, it quickly became my favorite album of the year. The next summer when they played Royal Oak Music Theatre I made sure I was in the building. I was on the bandwagon by then, I couldn’t wait to hear those songs live and they didn’t disappoint. The show was so good, that within the next few days when Highly Suspect announced that they’d be kicking off their 2017 fall tour the following September at The Machine Shop in Flint, I bought one ticket. I wasn’t going to search for someone to maybe take the trip. If I had to go alone I really enjoy my own company, so I was fine with that. I just knew I wanted to see those dudes live again. That Flint show was memorable because not only was the set list different than it was just a month and a half before in Royal Oak, but singer/guitarist/bona-fide-rock-star, Johnny Stevens, was battling some sort of ailment and his voice went out about midway through the set, ending the night early.
I saw Highly Suspect live again this past Thursday. When they announced that they were kicking off their 2019 tour back at The Machine Shop in Flint, I bought tickets. I took advantage of the “pre-order the new album and get pre-sale access to tickets” deal and it worked splendidly. This might be an unpopular thing to admit, but while everyone had been waiting on the release date for the new Tool album, I’ve been more eager to hear the new Highly Suspect. I mean, of course I wanted to hear Tool. But I’ve worn out the last two HS albums. Like you, I have to wait until November 1st for the “MCID” album to come out. That’s an abbreviation that stands for “My Crew Is Dope”, by the way. I really like the first two singles that were released last month. “16”, which you can currently hear on WRIF, and one called “Upperdrugs”. I anticipated hearing more new material at the show so I could write an exclusive, eyewitness account of what the new music sounds like here in this very space. But alas, those were the only two new numbers they played.
I can tell you that those two new songs sounded terrific live! They weren’t a bit out of place within a set heavy on older material. The most noteworthy progress Highly Suspect made was in personnel and overall sound. They’ve added former band tech, and longtime friend, Matt Kofos as a second guitarist on stage and hired on a synth player. Those additions have really widened the songs out and give the performances time to breath. It’s a really full sound. If you’ve seen them as a trio before, you’ll notice the extra instrumentation gets them a lot closer to how the recorded versions of the songs sound. Other than that they played well, they rocked out, they were charming and pleasant. The rhythm section is as tight as you’d expect from twin brothers Rich and Ryan Meyer. And Johnny Stevens? See above. Bona fide rock star. It was cool to be there for the opening night of the tour. They’ve played The Machine Shop for years now and seem to have a good vibe with the place so it was especially nice that they wanted to start the tour proper in Flint.
On November 9th, Highly Suspect will be back in Michigan. Back at Royal Oak Music Theatre. If you like them like I do and haven’t seen them, if you’re curious about them or if you just want to hear a kick ass, current rock band, you have to try and go. And get there early for Slothrust, the supporting band on this tour! They made me a fan. Keep it tuned in to The Riff for your chance to win tickets as the show approaches. Check here on the website occasionally too. We might have your chance to register to win online as well. See you there!
My pics from the Highly Suspect show all sucked, but I thought I’d post them anyway. I threw in a couple from when I met them in 2017 too. You’re welcome.
Find out how to get your tickets for Highly Suspect LIVE @ Royal Oak Music Theatre here