Wally’s in Hampton Beach, NH is one of the best spots in the area to catch a live band up close and personal. Mostly referred to as a biker bar, Wally’s is much more than that since year-round they bring in national acts and sell shows out consistently. It is one of my favorite local venues to catch some of my favorite bands with an incredible sound system, friendly bar staff, and great food. They are a staple in this area as one of the few places that remains open year-round on the Beach.
Starting the night off right was New England based hard rock band State of Emergency which consists of several members of very successful local acts Prospect Hill and Lansdowne. State of Emergency members includes lead singer Adam, drummer Justin, bassist Mike and guitarists Josh and Washburn. With thundering bass and drum lines, amped guitar riffs, and a voice like no other, they offered up three of their original songs including self-titled “State of Emergency” along with a few covers. Lead singer Adam Fithian led the crowd in a sing along with a cover of Stone Temple Pilot’s hit “Dead and Bloated.” Pretty amazing for a band who has not performed live together for almost three years. One of the best moments from their set came when a few of Prospect Hill’s members joined them on stage for one of Prospect Hill’s older hits “Dirty Mother.” I would have to say it was one of the best live performances I have ever seen.
Continuing the night was Dallas rock band Vital Empire who are set to release their first album this year. Vital Empire consists of lead singer Aaron, Jess on the drums, JP on guitar and filling in on bass was Jaron who also plays in New York-based band Mother. Although not particularly familiar with their catalog of music, I was thoroughly impressed with their sound. One song that stood out for me was a powerful rock tune “Terrified” which also happens to be their newest single. Lead singer Aaron screamed out “I’m so terrified of what you’ll see if you look inside” as the other members jammed alongside. If this was their first single, I sure can’t wait to hear the rest of the album! They also have some sweet merch available!
Next up was a band I saw perform live here at this same venue just this past summer.
Based out of Wayland, MI, Wayland is comprised of lead singer Mitch, lead guitarist Phil, drummer Nigel, and bassist Dean. Probably one of the most notable facts about this band is that the drummer, Nigel, is the son of Jackyl lead singer, Jesse James Dupree. With Wayland, he has been able to step out of his father’s shadow and join this band who is on their way to stardom for all the right reasons. They started the night off with an acoustic song, “Rabbit River Blues/From the Otherside” from their album Rinse & Repeat which has a Zeppelinesque influence to it. They continued their set to include seven more songs, all perfectly tuned with a great stage presence. This is what rock ‘n roll should sound like! Lead singer Mitch has a voice which stands out, similar to Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge. If you get a chance to see this band live, do yourself a favor and do it!
Closing the night out was Otherwise, a hard rock band based in Las Vegas, NV. Otherwise members include lead singer Adrian, guitarist Ryan, bassist Tony, and Brian on the drums. I’d like to describe their sound as symphonic hard rock, but there was much more to it than that. Adding to the mysterious allure of their sound was the fact they played in almost darkness with only red lights. Several times through their set lead singer Adrian would lean down from the stage and into the crowd to allow for the fans to sing along. I met one such fan outside the show; a fan who planned to not only see them on this night but also at their very next show in Massachusetts the following day. Otherwise’s most recent album is “Sleeping Lions” and I would not sleep on picking it up if I were you!
Photo and Review by Dominique Wheelock