REVIEW: The Struts Rock WRAT’S Nutcracker Ball

London’s new favorite sons The Struts headlined WRAT 95.9’S Nutcracker Ball at New Jersey’s Starland Ballroom on Thursday night as they wound down another North American tour, their second of the year – we covered the first on opening night – with support from Sick PuppiesHoly White Hounds and Cemetery Sun, the latter two being on tour with The Struts and Sick Puppies being a one-off for the show. The outrageous and inefficient security process at the venue prevented us from catching Cemetery Sun, but we were able to catch the rest of the show and a good show it was.

After about a dozen songs from Holy White Hounds – who I imagine had less time for this show than they did on the rest of the tour with the late start and an extra band – Sick Puppies came out for 7-song performance that highlighted just how much the band has evolved since You’re Going Down was released in 2009, though they did play 4 songs off that same album, Tri-Polar, including closing with You’re Going Down. Sticking with their most popular album and the new one, FurySick Puppies opened up wit Riptide before running through Stick To Your Guns, Odd One, Where Do I Begin, Maybe and Black & Blue before wrapping up with their biggest hit. The band has changed quite a bit since 2009, as would be expected with the 2014 departure of original lead singer Shimon Moore and Bryan Scott taking over after a 2 year hiatus. They’re now more pop metal than the hard rock band they’ve been in the past, but I’m definitely a fan of what I heard from Fury and they’re certainly a good live act who would be worth seeing on a headline tour.

Bryan Scott of Sick Puppies at Starland Ballroom

After a brief intermission that included WRAT 95.9 unveiling the cover girl for their 2017 Rat Rock Calendar (photos here), it was time for The Struts to rock Starland Ballroom. Luke and the boys kicked things off with a bit of a surprise, playing Put Your Hands Up, which will presumably appear on the band’s second album that is currently in the works. They’d then go into These Times Are Changing and then the song that took the band from unknowns and sent them into the stratosphere, Could Have Been Me, which is still the only song I ever sing along to while in the pit shooting, which should say everything you need to know about how good that song is.

Obviously, with only one album, there are only so many songs the band can play and the rest of the set, to no surprise, included every song off Everybody Wants. Though, they did pull The Ol’ Switcheroo – pun intended – by playing the album out of order where as they played it start to finish on their first headline tour earlier this year. If you haven’t guessed, The Ol’ Switcheroo followed Could Have Been Me, and then came the band’s other big hit, Kiss This.

I won’t run through the entire setlist – if you know the album, you know the set, and if you don’t know the album you should probably get on that – but I will say I stand by what I said back in March following opening night of their spring tour: The Struts are going to be huge in a year. They already have a massively diverse following – opening night at Irving Plaza in March was sold out with a heavily British crowd, while this show was close to capacity and had a very American crowd with fans ranging from the ages of 10 well into their 50’s – and have already opened for both Motley Crue AND Guns N Roses in the last calendar year.

Not many bands can pull off two North American tours in less than 12 months, and it’s certainly been a long and prosperous year for Luke, Jed, Addo and Gethin as their ascent to stardom continues. The Struts sold out closing night at The Warsaw here in Brooklyn on Saturday, and it seems that with every show they play, their fanbase grows and they reach another level. The younger fans who are into whatever’s hip right now love them – especially teenage girls – and the generation that grew up on hard rock and loved Queen are falling in love with The Struts thanks to Luke Spiller’s Freddy Mercury-like voice and antics.

I said it in March and I’ll say it again: The Struts are going to be selling out arenas in the very near future. There’s just no way they can continue to play 2,000 capacity venues with their skyrocketing popularity. They’ve already opened for two of the most iconic bands in the history of music and completed two headline tours of their own, and with a new album in the works that I imagine will be better than Everybody Wants, the sky’s the limit for The Struts. I don’t know if we’ll see them again in 2017, though they are scheduled to play the MMRBQ – a day-long festival in Camden, NJ put on by Philly rock station 93.3 WMMR – and that could be a prelude to a summer amphitheater tour or as support for something bigger, but even if they don’t do another US run in 2017, I fully expect them to be back in 2018 with a new album and another headline tour. Only next time, they’ll be playing to a lot more people.

The Struts are here to stay, and if you’re not listening to them, you’re missing out. Check out our photo gallery below.

Luke Spiller of The Struts at Starland Ballroom