Wilson, prepping for their upcoming European tour, brush off the dust on some songs and plays a one-off show with support from Bonehawk in the Cereal City.

January 15, 2016, was a special night for music fans in Battle Creek, Michigan as Detroit rockers Wilson scheduled a one-night appearance to help prepare them for their upcoming European tour with Halestorm.

Hard rock/metal fans were given a pleasant surprise as they eagerly waited for Wilson to take the stage. That surprise came in the form of BoneHawk, a Kalamazoo, Michigan area groove/stoner hard rock band who made their first ever appearance this night at The Music Factory.

The band consists of Chad Houts (guitars), Matt Helt (lead vocals/guitar), Jay Rylander (drums) and Taylor Wallace (bass). BoneHawk wowed fans with their modern-day behemoth mix of loud rock n’ roll, 90s stoner, and 70s groove, with a foundation of heavy riffs and twin guitar harmony interludes.

One might first notice the twin guitars of Houts and Helt, but just as important to their sound is both Rylander and Wallace. Rylander’s drum set is nothing fancy. It’s how he plays it that makes all the difference. He is a pocket drummer who is rock solid on his timing. Watching him play the drums is reminiscent of watching Dave Grohl play the drums. When he brings the stick down he does it with such force, you can almost feel the sound waves floating off of the drums. When his stick hits, he hesitates for a moment holding the stick down. His drum hits are calculated and meaningful.

Wallace is also rock solid on his timing. During the instrumental breakdowns, his thunderous bass guitar riffs are what kept the rhythm going while Houts and Helt’s dueling guitars play off of each other.

Rylander and Wallace make up the backbone of this band. The guitar harmonies have to be perfectly timed to achieve the desired effect. Without the impeccable timing which Rylander and Wallace provide, BoneHawk would have struggled or faltered. The audience was mesmerized, and these guys made a lot of new fans this night as people surrounded their merch table following their performance.

The crowd was amped and ready to go by the time Wilson hit the stage with their loud thunderous in-your-face punk’d up heavy rock n’ roll. Hailing from the mean streets of Detroit, the band consists of Chad Nicefield (vocals), Jason Spencer (guitar), Kyle Landry (guitar), James Lascu (bass) and Matt Puhy (drums). Spencer started the band in early 2010 in East Lansing, Michigan and remains the sole founding member, with Nicefield coming on board in late 2010.

According to an article in the Detroit Metro Times, Nicefield says he joined Wilson when he decided he wanted to take his partying a bit more seriously. Their mission from the beginning was to provide the best possible soundtrack to what they would consider their last Friday night on earth.

Eventually, the band would relocate to the Detroit area. One of the good things about the Detroit music scene is that there is such an eclectic mix of bands playing different genres of music. Such musical diversity presents the opportunities for musicians to discover and play with other musicians from all types of musical roots.

In an interview with CBS Detroit, Nicefield stated “Detroit is a cultural and artistic melting pot. It’s exciting to be a band in Detroit; it’s, even more, exciting to be a fan of live music in Detroit!” Wilson has played alongside the likes of The Black Dahlia Murder, Against the Grain, The Suicide Machines, Red Stone Souls, Battlecross, Critical Bill, The A-Gang, Speedball and the Koffin Kats, showing that they easily meld within a scene as diverse as Detroit.

Wilson hit the stage like a tiger stalking its prey; aggressive, ferocious and hungry to rock. They play good time hard rock, mixed with a little punk angst, and some catchy melodies that stick out. These five guys work the stage like rock stars in the making, but they come across as grounded, humble, and ready to let loose and have some fun.

The band radiated high-energy throughout their performance while playing every inch of the stage. What made their set, even more, fun to watch was seeing Zach Darwin on stage, their ‘unofficial’ sixth member. He used to tour with the band doing their stage lights but because of work commitments now only makes it out to local area shows. This guy’s set up is amazing. He has a guitar that, instead of playing music, is hooked up to their stage lights. Darwin uses switches on the guitar and pedals on the stage to control the light show. He does so while banging away imaginary riffs on his guitar and tapping his foot on the pedals. Unique, indeed!

Wilson seemed to have brought music fans with them from areas outside of Battle Creek. At one point, Nicefield even stated, “Can I ask you a question, Battle Creek? How many of you are actually from here? 1, 2, 3 (he counted as he pointed to a few hands that were raised up). How many are from Kalamazoo? A bunch more I see. BoneHawk is from Kalamazoo. They’re fucking incredible.” He then dedicated the next song to Taylor Wallace of BoneHawk. Unknown to most, Taylor was a member of Wilson before joining BoneHawk.

Wilson likes to have fun on stage. At one point, Nicefield mentioned “Speaking of getting drunk, who’s going to pay for tomorrow’s hangover?” The band segued from here into a cover of Nazareth’s “Hair of the Dog.”

Nicefield is the perfect man to front this band. He comes across as tough as the city of Detroit, which helped mold him. However, he is the nicest, friendliest guy. And his sarcastic sense of humor plays a big part in the ‘fun’ that is Wilson. His wit came out when Nicefield told the crowd, “We booked this show about a month ago because we are going to Europe and needed to brush our dicks off a bit. So, thank you for helping us out with a little dick brushing.”

In an article in the Broward Palm Beach New Times, Nicefield mentioned he is not ashamed to admit that he got into the whole music thing for free beer. But as the sound of Wilson matured, so did its goals. Detroit shaped them. They know how to work hard and overcome hardships. They are not weak people; you have the hard times, which lead to the good times.

From the music to the visuals of their live show, Wilson delivers high quality. They worked hard at producing their unique brash style of heavy metal. Music fans from all over have taken notice too, making them no longer one of Detroit’s best kept secrets. It appears that the hard times are now behind them with plenty of good times ahead.

Our photographer, Thom Seling, was on hand to capture the night through his camera lens. Here are his images.

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