Everynight Charley

Rival Sons at Palladium Times Square / June 1, 2023

In the late 1960s and into the 1970s, young musicians throughout the world adapted traditional American blues music to high-volume stacks of amplifiers. This new music revolutionized rock and roll and expanded it to a much larger audience, filling concert halls and feeding into music festivals like the iconic Woodstock Music & Arts Festival. Decades later, this music would be called classic rock, a standard by which to quantify all future rock music.

Some 50 years later, a growing number of 21st century bands are reviving that sound. Matching bluesy vocals with stinging electric guitar leads, the musicians in bands like Greta Van Fleet, Dirty Honey, and Rival Sons are studying a genre of music created before any of them were born. They are attracting ever-growing audiences because this sound is, well, classic.

Rival Sons formed in 2009 in Long Beach, California, presently consisting of vocalist Jay Buchanan, guitarist Scott Holiday, bassist Dave Beste and drummer Michael Miley. The band’s seventh and most recent album,Darkfighter, would be released on June 2, the day after the Palladium Times Square performance. A companion album, Lightbringer, is purported to be released later this year. The two albums mark the first new music from Rival Sons in more than four years.

At the Palladium Times Square, Rival Sons’ 14-song set list included four songs from Darkfighter and no songs from Lightbringer. The rest of the set was comprised of scattered songs from the band’s catalog. The songs that generated the strongest audience response were those that sounded closest to Led Zeppelin’s ZOSO and Houses of the Holy period.

Even with the addition of a touring keyboardist, Rival Sons’ Buchanan and Holiday consistently commanded the spotlight and drove the music. Buchanan, dressed in a snug-fitting three-piece suit with no shirt or socks, projected class and finesse, never moving too quickly or suddenly. His rich and powerful voice, bluesy to the core, occasionally strained and cracked, added authenticity to the angst in his lyrics. Holiday, wearing sunglasses and dressed in a nehru-styled suit with a series of silver rivets running up the side seams of his trousers, sleeves, collar and front closure, was equally magnetic in sartorial style while endlessly ripping furious guitar leads and riffs. Together, Buchanan and Holiday successfully crafted a look and sound that sporadically echoed the teamwork of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, yet extended that style with modern flashes. The contributions of the remaining three musicians should not be diminished or undervalued, but the flashy presentations by Buchanan and Holiday made the more sedate musicians disappear into the dimmer recesses of the stage for most of the performance.

Rival Sons recreated not only the sound of the 1970s, but also exuded the arena swagger of that decade. Much like the trend five decades ago, the set included three extended solos  – the type of solos where all the other musicians leave the stage while a single musician gives his skills a spotlighted workout. At different moments in the program, Buchanan sang a song accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, Holiday twisted his speedy fingers on his guitar while toying with sonic distortion, and Miley madly banged his percussion alone on stage.

Rival Sons can make their hard rock ancestors proud. The band gracefully infused new life into the familiar formulas of classic rock. Because of the percolating popularity of bands like Rival Sons, the 1970s will continue to be in music the decade that refuses to die.

Photos by Everynight Charley


  1. Mirrors
  2. Nobody Wants to Die
  3. Pressure and Time
  4. Electric Man
  5. Rapture
  6. Torture
  7. Where I’ve Been
  8. Open My Eyes
  9. Too Bad
  10. Feral Roots
  11. Shooting Stars
  12. Face of Light
  13. Darkside
  14. Do Your Worst