notes from the coast: Diamond Lane @ the Roxy 5/13

Reviewing a band performance when you personally know someone in it can be a tricky situation. In order to come up with an unbiased view of the performance in question you have to be able to separate friendships from a serious opinion. Brandon Baumann is the singer of Diamond Lane and the younger brother of my friend Brent, which is how I know Brandon. I’ve known of the band Diamond Lane for as long as I’ve known Brent and I can remember the days seeing them as a struggling 3 piece playing a beer bash for a handful of drunks in the park. And even though I thought they were a pretty decent band back then, they just seemed like the typical garage band trying to make it and honestly I didn’t follow their progress much aside from the occasional update from Brent.

A couple of years ago Brent contacted me and told me Diamond Lane were playing their first L.A. performance at the Viper Room, which I attended. It was then I realized they were growing into a serious band and I came away impressed with their performance that night. They had expanded into a 5 piece and looked and sounded more like a professional band. I would later find out that since that time they’d gone on to open a show for Aerosmith and ZZ Top and had been working very hard toward completing an album. I had no idea just how far they had come until Friday night!

For their very first record release Diamond Lane played the famous Roxy on the Sunset Strip and I was a bit surprised when I showed up to a packed nightclub! Seeing as earlier in the evening I was attending an art exhibit (yes I do have some refinement!), I didn’t show up until right before the band took the stage. The crowd was in a great mood and very fired up to see the Lane and the energy throughout the place was infectious. As the band started to play opener All Rebels Welcome a masked figure in a straight jacket was wheeled out onstage. Brandon busted out of the jacket and tore away the mask and greeted the pumped up L.A. crowd. Looking like a younger version of the Motor City Madman himself Mr. Ted Nugent, he commanded the crowd like he was born to be onstage. As they cranked out gems like the groovy City of Sin, anthemic rockers like I Know Who You Did Last Summer, Never Going Home and burners like Needle Down I realized the little brother band I viewed them as was totally gone, this version was, and is, a lean, mean rockin machine!

In the middle of the show there was a break when the band brought out a girl who was the winner of some contest, blindfolded her, gave her a bat and had her swinging at a piñata for her birthday. I have to admit at that moment I got a little scared for the band members and equipment but thankfully nothing ended up going horribly wrong. When she finally did break it, the piñata spilled out condoms which were tossed into the rabid crowd and much like the music, were eagerly and happily swallowed up. Their sound was great all night, particularly lead guitarist Jarrett Reis‘ blistering solos, and new drummer Jonah Nimoy laying down some serious wood, but it was all highlighted by Brandon‘s fantastic Sebastian Bach-like vocals. Having heard him from the earliest versions of Diamond Lane to now I can tell he’s put in a lot of hard work. His voice has come a long way and the results are nothing short of impressive. Aside from intertwining bits of classic metal songs from Metallica, Ozzy and Van Halen with their newer songs, I did recognize one oldie, Bite the Bullet, which had the crowd clamoring for more. On this night Diamond Lane could do no wrong.

What I saw Friday night was simply awesome and I feel Diamond Lane are a fast rising rock band with loads of potential. To me they sound like a modern day Skid Row, they’ve got the catchy rock riffs, great melodic hooks, and the metal chops that keep them from being one dimensional, all with a modern sound that appeals to the new generation and a good old fashioned work ethic and blue collar approach that should endear them to the old guard. I realize there might be some of you who might think I’m just praising a friends band, but I’ve seen them in every stage of their development and believe me, I’ve seen hundreds of shows since I was a teen, a lot of them early club shows with bands who would become huge (LA Guns and Keel come to mind performance-wise) and these guys have that same energy and presence that just commands respect.

Above all, Diamond Lane are a fun band. If you’re needing a break from all the death/black/viking metal chaos that I normally write up here, are into classic 80’s style rock and looking for something new and exciting, then look no further than Diamond Lane. Check out their new album World Without Heroes, I think you’ll enjoy it, and if you get a chance to see them live you won’t be disappointed!

photo by Kaley Nelson