ACL Review: Struts

Seventies UK glam rock returns

“Austin, we released our debut album Everybody Wants in the UK two years ago,” announced Luke Spiller, preening frontman for English glam revivalists the Struts, near the end of their ACL set on Friday. “Radio refused to play us! I hate that! So the four of us bought tickets to America last year, and we’ve been here since! And we love it!”

Photo by Shelley Hiam

So, apparently, did those braving the muggy weather for what felt like the ACL’s sole flash of classic rock & roll amid a sea of hip-hop and synth-pop. Given the hip-shakin’ enthusiasm that the Struts’ artificial, hysterical shriek aroused, America must see what the quartet’s homeland does not.

Stripped of Everybody Wants’ glossy production, live Struts came off as a rawer proposition, driven by drummer Gethin Davies’ post-Gary Glitter beats and guitarist Adam Slack’s filthy, grinding Les Paul riffs. Spiller still listens to way too much Freddie Mercury for his own good, and judging by the tops it appears he stole from Granny’s selection of nightgowns, he could really stand a stylist.

And honestly, must every last song become an excuse to clap hands, wave them in the air, sing along, and have a call-and-response breakdown?

Then again, songs titles like “Put Your Hands Up” telegraph the material’s stadium intent. They’re sunny, spirited anthems full of high drama, begging for a vintage appearance on Top of the Pops alongside the Sweet and Slade. None of which a bad thing.

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Struts, ACL Fest 2016, Luke Spiller, Gethin Davies, Adam Stack, Les Paul, Gary Glitter, Freddy Mercury, the Sweet, Slade

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