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Rooftop Revolutionaries Launch Rolling Rebellion

Patrick O'Heffernan: Eleanor Goldfield, co-founder and lead singer, showed her stunning vocal range, moving from soaring soprano notes to gritty blues belts and then down into deep bass - almost Tibetan throat singing - in a high energy, 7-song set that electrified the room.
Rooftop Revolutionaries

Rooftop Revolutionaries launch Rolling Rebellion in LA with Eleanor Goldfield’s soaring, voice and in your face progressive lyrics.

[dc]R[/dc]olling Rebellion for Real Democracy, the national movement rolling into cities across the country during the first two weeks of July in an effort to loosen the corporate stranglehold over America’s democracy, moved into the At Play At DTLA space in the LA Arts District Friday night. The event was a fundraiser for Occupy Venice and it featured a lineup of poets, activist speakers and the comedian Lee Camp. But for me, the highlight of the event was the LA-based progressive hard rock band Rooftop Revolutionaries.

Eleanor Goldfield, co-founder and lead singer, showed her stunning vocal range, moving from soaring soprano notes to gritty blues belts and then down into deep bass - almost Tibetan throat singing - in a high energy, 7-song set that electrified the room. The musicians- Brian Marshak on guitar, Stanley Love on drums, Mikael "Redbeard" Gustavsson on bass and Colin Reid on guitar, moved like a single organism, scaffolding Eleanor’s singing and putting forceful beats to the political message she was pumping out.

The band opened with “Row”, a commanding song telling you to pay attention - grab an oar and row because “you won’t see the light with your head in the sand/oh you don’t know what its like/hold the river right’s been sold up shit creek”, driven by Stanly Love’s impeccable drumming and with guitar riffs interweaving with Eleanor’s vocals in a mix that pinned you down and wouldn’t let you go.

Following up with “Chain”,Eleanor belted out “Born and raised by corporate chains, you know we’re sold….. all we know are corporate chains”, with the band’s every note and every lick and guitar solo driving the message home. They followed with “Folk Devils”, a near-heavy metal screamer from their album Resolute that filled with room with clashing power and Eleanor channeling a deep-voiced Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill. The effect was overwhelming - unnerving and precisely on target.

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The band moved onto “Run Away”, “War” and “Save Us and ended on a high note with the audience singing along. Although the event was packed with progressive partisans and Eleanor was singing to the choir, she and her bandmates drove home the message that singing to the choir energizes the choir to go out and break molds, change policy and win elections. Art is part of political change, and often precedes political change: Rooftop Revolutionaries are a highly talented and dedicated part of the art that is preceding political change in America.

Rooftop Revolutionaries – the name comes from the founding of the band on a rooftop in Los Angeles –are the cutting edge of the return of protest music to the Progressive movement. They do it with skill and finesse – no easy feat for a hard rock band. The music supports the message but the message never gets ahead of the music and vice versa. The band members are so well matched and tuned to each other that the vocals-thought-notes flow is seamless. Eleanor’s phenomenal voice could run away with a lessor group of musicians, but they move forward together, with lyrics surging here, guitars surging there and sophisticated percussion and bass keeping the backbone solid and strong.

Rooftop Revolutionaries

Even at a local fundraiser in a small space with minimal staging, mixing and amplification, Rooftop Revolutionaries gave 120% and sounded like they could fill an amphitheater. Next time I see them, I hope it is at an amphitheater, singing even more truth to power.

patrick-oheffernan

Patrick O’Heffernan
Host Music FridayLove!