Live Report: Giovannie & The Hired Guns at The Troubadour (Aug 14, 2022)

Texas bands Giovannie and the Hired Guns and Kingdom Collapse brought some hard rock back to the Troubadour last Sunday night, along with some good-time vibes.

The room was still a bit sparse when Kingdom Collapse hit the stage, but that didn’t prevent them from giving 110% to their performance. While their style of lightly melodic hard rock isn’t something I listen to much these days, nor is it a sound that has been en vogue in Los Angeles for a while, the band clearly had some hardcore fans in attendance, and their energy and crowd engagement got the majority of people in the room to raise up devil horns and bang their heads. Every member of the band was engaged and giving their all to win over those in the audience with songs like new single “Break Free” and banger “Unbreakable”. And while the singer probably didn’t need to tout their success on Sirius XM as much as he did, the independent, unsigned band should be proud of their success and I’m sure will continue to play to larger audiences.

A year ago, we wrote about Giovannie and the Hired Guns‘s music video for “Ramon Ayala”, and since then, it has consistently been one of the top viewed posts on our site. It was a clear sign that something was happening with the band, and while they aren’t a household name yet, they are definitely on an upward trajectory. G&tHG are more varied in their sound and influences than their openers, but with their first song that evening, still proved they could rock as hard as any of their peers. The powerful six-man group, fronted by infectiously happy frontman Giovannie Yanez, would surprise an unfamiliar attendee with their musical range, but it’s one of the things that make the band one to watch.

The group moved from hard rockers to rough and tumble power pop track “Lover Boy”, to punk-flavored alternative rock with the anthemic “Pretend”. Yanez’s vocals have a similar gravelly sound to one of his idols (as he recently said on Twitter), Ben Nichols of Lucero, which gives an extra gravitas to the group’s slower songs like “Change”, infusing the reflective track with musical whiskey tears.

Just as you might thing you have the band pegged, they pull out a sousaphone. Their mighty bassist carried the weight of the large instrument, using it for a football style fight song chant. He then managed to carry its weight while playing bass for another track, before using the large instrument again for a cover of a Ramon Ayala song. It’s fun to see the band incorporate traditional songs like this from their past into their set, especially when paired with their #1 Mainstream rock hit “Ramon Ayala”, the grunge pop sing-along they played next. The track brings to mind Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag”, with lines like “I’m just your ordinary fuck-up. There’s nothin’ special about me”, though the core of the song is about wanting to be your true self around a person you love. This is one of the things I love about this band; there is a depth to their songwriting that the average listener may not pick up on. It’s certainly on display on “Can’t Answer Why”, a mid-tempo rocker where Yanez has his vulnerability on full display, and inspired a passionate singalong from the audience.

Another shout-out is owed to the band’s three guitar players, who showed off some fine shredding and camaraderie on stage. Though the two lead guitarists held a look of intensity throughout, the rhythm guitarist looked like he was having almost as much fun as Yanez, who grooved along the stage with a constantly big smile on his face. Yanez seemed to especially enjoy playing tracks like audience favorite “Rooster Tattoo”, with its encouragement to put middle fingers in the air (which everyone did). You could even spot members of Kingdom Collapse back in the audience, supporting their tour mates in the crowd.

At times during the show, it was hard to hear Yanez’s vocals, which couldn’t match the volume of the three-guitar attack, which made more stripped-back tracks like “I Don’t Mind” stand out as it was easier to hear the words Yanez was singing. Much like at a Lucero show, the crowd got possibly more excited for these “sad man” drinking tunes than the more upbeat rockers, though everyone in attendance got to jumping and even moshing when the band broke out a boisterous cover of Foster the People‘s smash “Pumped Up Kicks”. While officially closing the main set, most of the band stayed on stage to get right into a hard rocking encore. After a series of thank you’s and farewells, Yanez went right out to the merch table to speak to fans. Much respect for that.

It’s hard not to be happy to see a band like G&tHG achieve success. They are a solid live band with a great energy who appear to be enjoying playing on stage as much as the audience enjoys seeing them. If you aren’t familiar with the group yet, get a taste of their music here!

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