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J. Roddy Walston & The Business works up The Jefferson

‘70s-inspired rockers electrify Charlottesville

Following an impressive display from opening act Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, J. Roddy Walston & The Business — a band consisting of four men sporting similar long hair and beards — appeared on a rustic stage at The Jefferson Theater last Thursday. The main object of interest on display was frontman Walston’s shabby Yamaha CP-60 piano, turned perpendicular to the stage. Letters spelling “JRODDY” were inscribed on the side in orange duct tape.

Walston sat behind his piano, and the band kicked off the concert by performing the hit “Don’t Break the Needle” from their self-titled album. Walston’s aggressive musical style was evident from the very beginning of their set. He furiously banged out the song’s lead piano riff and sung into his microphone in a manner that combined melodic singing with fervent yelling.

Throughout the entirety of the concert, Walston went stir crazy behind his piano. It was very rare that all three legs of his stool would be on the ground at the same time while he rocked back and forth, and it was not uncommon for Walston to leave his keyboard in the middle of a song to sing, while dragging his microphone stand around the stage.

The level of participation from the crowd throughout the show was astounding. “Midnight Cry” — the final song of the regular set — had every member of the audience singing along with Walston’s uncharacteristically melodic vocal breakdown while swaying their arms back and forth in the air to the song’s slowed down tempo.

The highlight of the show came during the band’s two-part encore. Following “Boys Can Never Tell,” the slowest song of the night, Walston traded his piano for one of his Fender Coronado guitars, before the band performed “Heavy Bells” — the introductory track to their most recent album “Essential Tremors.”

Beginning innocently enough, “Heavy Bells” eventually had all four members banging their heads as Walston emphatically shouted out the song’s refrain. The song climaxed as Walston yelled at the top of his lungs for a duration lasting upwards of eight seconds, prompting two members of the audience to climb onto the stage and perform equally unsuccessful stage dives into the crowd.

Showcasing their dynamic take on ‘70s hard rock, J. Roddy Walston & The Business delivered an electrifying performance that was exactly what the audience asked for.