A dark night of bluesy fright with Queenadilla

“That was one hell of a night and I hope Jesus forgives me tomorrow.” Queenadilla frontman and rhythm guitarist Chase McKnight’s breathless words after a long set give you some hint as to what can be expected from a Queenadilla show. What the musicians left on that stage was incredibly clear—at the beginning of the set their skeleton makeup was new and pristine, and an hour and a half later at 1 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, the band was in various states of transforming back to the living. McKnight was the furthest along, his makeup nearly completely gone.

Skeletons, black lights and the standard neon bar lights adorned the walls of ABG’s in Provo for their Halloween show featuring John-Ross Boyce and Queenadilla. The audience was an assortment of ghosts, ghouls, mummies and Teletubbies, an intimidating group for the opener, John-Ross Boyce, to warm up. His attempts were not in vain, however. John-Ross Boyce’s excellent stage presence, killer jokes and his deep, soulful voice kept the monsters in the audience at bay. Boyce’s acoustic blues rock tunes were a good start to the night. His set featured some original songs, a slowed down version of Blue Oyster Cult’s classic “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and a few covers of songs by The Ramones, including “Chain Saw.”

Once John-Ross Boyce finished his set, Queenadilla took the stage. Even before they had set up their equipment, you could feel the energy in the room. Many attendees knew what was in store, and those that didn’t could feel the palpable anticipation of those that did. After a brief sound check, Queenadilla was ready to play. The opening song was a bluesy rendition of “Time Warp” from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”.

After “Time Warp”, Queenadilla cranked the energy to eleven and never turned it back down. The second song was a cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, which really got the crowd moving. From there, Queenadilla’s set was an onslaught of blues Rock and stage mastery. McKnight’s presence on the stage was impossible to look away from. Not even the antics of UVU’s own digital media professor, Mike “Wiz” Wisland, in a Bobby Hull jersey and hockey stick, could distract from McKnight’s wailing, both vocally and instrumentally.

UVU professor Mike “Wiz” Wisland enjoying Queenadilla’s Halloween show.

The rest of Queenadilla was on point as well. Nick Mayberry matched Chase’s vocal intensity with powerful guitar riffs, a bold pair of cowboy boots and an outlandish bright yellow poncho. Stacy Fleischer on drums made the whole night look easy. Despite her heavy strikes and the general physical excursion that comes with percussion, her Sugar Skull makeup stayed fresh and clean. Last, but certainly not least, was Andrew McCord on bass. His thumping low-end provided the base upon which the heavy blues was built. The band’s set and pacing were tight, even the parts that seemed improvised fit in. Queenadilla never lost their flow and they certainly never lost the crowd.

A specific high point of the night was a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins often covered “I Put a Spell on You”. Queenadilla had put a spell on the audience, and the effect was felt by everyone. The crowd, though somewhat smaller than at the start, became bewitched by the low, slow and unyielding blues classic. This rendition could be felt in your soul and you could almost be convinced that the band members had died and sold their souls to the devil in true blues fashion, as McKnight had claimed earlier in the set.

The night ended with McKnight leaving the stage to shred out his final guitar solo on top of a table. Cocktails were spilled but nobody seemed to care. As McKnight stomped and carried on, the cheers of the crowd crescendoed and the show was over. Queenadilla and those who had toughed it out to the 1:03 a.m. end time had given everything they had to the performance.

“I’ve known Queenadilla for five years, this is the best band in the state. Come see Queenadilla before you die,” Wisland said.

 

 

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