Every so often a band comes along, whether through Spotify, or as a tour opener, that when you hear them, you know you’ve found something special. Though having only been on the scene, with their current line-up, CLASSLESS ACT has made a huge splash in the music scene, and music fans have been taking notice.
Brought together by the social media age (more on that can be heard in our interview with Franco and Chuck), these guys have found fans in Justin Hawkins from THE DARKNESS, and MOTLEY CRUE, and it’s easy to see why. The band performs with the maturity, and energy, of decades-long road warriors. Energetic, pulse-pounding, pure rock. With the thundering rhythm from Chuck McKissock and Franco Gravante, screaming guitars from Dane Pieper and Griffin Tucker, and vocals from Derek Day, that somehow combines the best of Robert Plant, and Freddie Mercury (more on that later). The band combines the best of alt rock from the 70’s and 80’s, with a heavy modern flair to keep things interesting.
Doing one tour a year might be enough for most bands, but CLASSLESS ACT have been on the road for 7 months. Starting off with a tour with DOROTHY, the guys quickly switched to the STADIUM TOUR, opening for the likes of JOAN JETT, POISON, MOTLEY CRUE, and DEF LEPPARD, furthering their exposure. With barely a break, CLASSLESS ACT kicked off own tour, in support of of their new EP, an acoustic collection of their singles, called Welcome to the Acoustic Show, available for streaming on Spotify. When asked why they were releasing an acoustic version so soon after the original launch, Franco said “We wanted to show another side of the band.” And they certainly do. Though stripped down, and unplugged, the songs pack just as much energy.
Classless also has a newish single out. A cover of perennial Christmas classic, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, which turns the song on its head with the Classless Act treatment. Though released last year, it is seeing new life, inspiring the name of the tour, and being used to close out their set. A bold move, but it has paid off, Cotton.
With the holiday season among us, and severe weather looming the day of the show, Lucia had roughly 25 people in attendance. But that didn’t stop the guys in CLASSLESS ACT from delivering a powerhouse performance. With a stage not much larger than the desk I’m writing at, it was too small for the band’s energy. Known for frantic movements, and running around, vocalist Derek Day would leap into the crowd, and bound about the venue during guitar solos.
All members of the band are multi-instrumentalists, and singers. And have talked about wanting to swap instruments at a show, and continue to play. Whether they do that on this tour or not…you’ll have to catch them in person to find out. What was on display on Wednesday night in Lawrence was guitarist Griffin Tucker’s vocal chops.
With a last-minute change to the setlist, at the request of bassist Franco Gravante, the Queen + David Bowie classic, Under Pressure was performed. Here, guitarist Griffin Tucker took the David Bowie vocals. The mix was a little off though, with his vocals being drowned out by Chuck’s drumming at times. Derek, of course, took on Freddie Mercury’s vocals; no small feat. Though that can be said for any of the song’s parts. For not being part of the regular set, the band absolutely crushed the song. Most impressive to me was how Derek handled things. One of the most memorable parts of Under Pressure is Freddie’s scatting, but more iconic than that is his two octave vocal slide near the end. Something that Freddie himself rarely (if ever) did live. Derek embraces, and nails it.
Coming from various musical backgrounds, CLASSLESS ACT has found great sound with each other. Blending their different influences, into a cohesive hodge-podge that just jams. With songs like the anthem Welcome to the Show, or more melodic, quasi-ballad, Thoughts from a Dead Man (which has heavy Queen vibes), the band shows they are not just consummate performers, but also incredible songwriters.
So if you haven’t already seen these guys live, do yourself a favor and catch them, before Ticketmaster starts surge pricing their tickets. There’s only one place CLASSLESS ACT is going, and that is straight to the top.
Note: Keep an eye on the Photos from the Pit Facebook page for information on how you could win a signed setlist, and copy of Welcome to the Show.
Words and Photos by Josh Chaikin