The Motor City favorites showed the crowd that Detroit rock nâ€™ roll can be intense and fun, all at the same time.
December 13, 2014, was a night of good old Detroit home-brewed rock n’ roll and the Royal Oak Music Theatre, in Royal Oak, Michigan, was packed to see heavy hitters Artificial Agent rock the house.
Hailing from the mean streets of Detroit, these guys are a modern-edged hard rock band with a touch of 80s metal.
Artificial Agent is one hell of a powerhouse live band. Although the band likes to say they are “melting glam rock with heavy metal, one note at a time,” you would think of them more as straight forward hard rock combining both old and new school influences to create a sound that is classic metal for a new generation.
The band lineup includes brothers-in-arms Derek Jendza (vocals) and Brad Jendza (bass, backing vocals) along with Mike Elgert (guitar) and Karl Crafton (drums).
This hard-working band is all about DIY, from the stage production they piece together, to their effort in the studio. They make their own costumes or have tailors create them from original designs. Brad customizes his bass guitars with rhinestones, broken glass, and metal studs while Karl applies his own drum wraps.
It is precisely this attitude that has made people stop and take notice. The band formed in the summer of 2010 and quickly made a name for themselves in the Detroit music scene while becoming a top drawing act in the process.
The band launched full speed into their set with â€œPsychomotor Agitationâ€ off of their recently released Brain Grenade CD. The show was non-stop from that moment forward. This song is a pure rocker with a catchy chorus that gets you singing along. It is full of attitude, but the chorus keeps it playful and fun.
Derek then taught the crowd â€œHow To Be Evil,â€ a track taken from their debut album Love Wonâ€™t Strangle Me. Reminiscent of an Alice Cooper song, the band hit every note with such precision showing their onstage prowess. Derek is the perfect front-man. It was a joy to watch him bounce and prowl around the stage during this one.
You could feel the energy level rise as the band played â€œMaster Blaster.â€ Elgertâ€™s guitar work began with a Zakk Wylde-like thump then quickly switched to a classic KISS-like groove. This song has lots of attitude and some in-your-face guitar work making it a perfect song get the crowd fist-pumping.
Next came an older song, â€œLove Wonâ€™t Strangle Me,â€ an especially harmonious funk-rock tune with Kyuss written all over it.
They kept the momentum going with â€œOut Of Time.â€ This song has a modern edged sound similar to the heavier side of Papa Roach or Velvet Revolver mixed with a touch of Queens of the Stone Age. Bradâ€™s thunderous bass lines rolled along as Derekâ€™s aggressive sounding vocals were sung with great conviction.
Artificial Agent followed with another song from their past catalog, â€œWe All Fall Down.â€ Without a secondâ€™s hesitation, they broke right into a cover of David Lee Rothâ€™s â€œYankee Rose.â€ The crowd ate it up. They were on their feet, hands waving and bodies moving as they sang along to every note.
They ended their set with â€œTurbo Slut,â€ a song about your typical groupie. However, Artificial Agentâ€™s many of the female fanbase has adopted the name as their own badge of honor. This dedicated group attend all of the shows, and some might call them the bandâ€™s unofficial street team as they help spread the word.
Artificial Agent took no prisoners this night in Royal Oak. Derek snarled and growled out the words with such vigor; he sounded happy and angry all at the same time. Elgertâ€™s guitar work is reminiscent of the heavy simplicity of John Christ mixed with the delicate intricacies of George Lynch. Bradâ€™s bass rhythms channel old-school Kyuss mixed with a modern flare of Velvet Revolver. And, Crafton holds down the rhythm with his cool Red Sparkle 26â€ Bass Drum led Ludwig drum kit keeping the perfect back beat flowing and the band in sync with each other. He is 100% rock nâ€™ roll on his drum kit. This, along with outrageous soloâ€™s and killer guitar riffs made you either want to bang your head, pump your fist in the air, or play â€˜air guitarâ€™ with all of your might!
Artificial Agent is one of those rare bands that make their CD sound like a controlled rage. When they let loose, the walls shake, the earth moves, and you know rock nâ€™ roll is alive and well, especially in Detroit.
Our photographer, Thom Seling, was on hand to capture it all with his camera. Here are his images from that night.