There was a rocking party at Gray's Keg in Lincoln Friday night (10/8/21). The killer soundtrack was provided by Joyous Wolf and Of Limbo, both from California, and locals Stately Wayne Manor.
A few months back I had the joy of covering Dirty Honey at the Bourbon for the second time. The band that opened that show was unfamiliar to me, but after seeing them live I became a Joyous Wolf fan! When I saw that they would be coming back to Lincoln and our buddies 104.1 The Blaze were involved, naturally I wanted to be there! This time was even better because I brought my brother and one of my oldest friends Johnny Jazz along for the trip.
Before we headed to Gray's Keg, we decided to grab dinner at one of Lincoln's hidden gems. A dusty little shack next to a mega store that reads "Meat and Beer", this place isn't for the faint of heart. Yes my friends, I'm talking about Egg Roll King. (I would put a link here, but they don't even have a website).
The tumbleweeds blew across the parking lot as we donned our masks, ready for some fried deliciousness. Aside from a few drive through customers we were the only patrons. No matter. The egg rolls and crab rangoons were piping hot and boy did they hit the spot. I was talking with the lady at the front and she said they sell par-baked egg rolls. I didn't have anything to put them in to keep cold, but if I had a cooler I think I would've taken her up on it. If you're ever in Lincoln and need a quick meal before a show, Egg Roll King is where it's at.
After Egg Roll King we rolled by Gray's Keg to double check the set times. The show didn't start until 9:00 and Joyous Wolf was to go on at 11:00! It was going to be a late one in Lincoln. I was so thankful I had some friends for the drive home. Before heading off to the Haymarket to kill some time we ran into Nick Reese from Joyous Wolf as they were returning from dinner. I told Nick how pumped I was for the show. He said they went on at 11:00 and I told him I had just learned that from when I popped inside. I groaned a bit and Nick said "Hey, I don't book it, I just play it" haha. I tried to recover with "It's all good it's Friday night". Nick sang a little ditty "Ooh yea, it's Friday night" as he made his way on to the bus, making me feel less awkward.
After our brush with stardom, we decided to walk to the Haymarket since it was only a "few blocks" according to my friend John. With the unseasonably warm weather I was sweating off those egg rolls within minutes (or maybe it was just my wannabe rock star black skinny jeans). Either way, it was quite the trek to the Arcade Bar. Once we got inside the AC was blasting and there was a plethora of games. We had a blast playing Lethal Enforcers, Galaga, and various pinball machines. I whooped up on John in a round of Street Fighter II, Ryu fierce kick for the win! Before we knew it, it was time to head back to Gray's Keg to catch the show. We decided to grab a Lyft on the way back. Though I loved the idea of further working off the egg rolls, we were already going to have a tough time catching the local band and I didn't want to miss Of Limbo.
As I predicted, we were walking in just as Stately Wayne Manor was finishing their last song, a ripping cover of "Jolene". It sounded great from what I was able to catch. Had we taken a Lyft both ways we probably could have caught more of the set, but I'm glad we made it back when we did.
Of Limbo was up before Joyous Wolf and they came ready to party! I tried to check them out on Spotify before the show, but like a lot of bands I've seen lately, I'm coming to find that Spotify just doesn't do them justice. There's nothing that can replace the feeling of being in a little venue surrounded by fans as the band kicks off a wild Friday night. From the start of the set you could tell these dudes were here to have a good time. Lead singer Jake had four tall boys ready to go on the monitor at his feet, and bass player Herbie was rocking a cut off shirt and knee high socks.
They looked pretty wild up there but they sounded great. Jake's brother, guitarist Luke had a total AC/DC vibe with long stringy hair and a cutoff shirt. The whole time I was thinking "These guys remind me of AC/DC a bit" and then come to find out brothers Jake and Luke are originally from Australia?!!" They're bringing rock back in a big way and you could tell AC/DC runs in their blood. They did a good hour of originals, but they also threw in some covers including "Fight For Your Right To Party" and "Regulators". This is the second time I've seen a band do a cover of "Regulators" where they play out the original Michael McDonald verses (since "Regulators" samples "Keep Forgettin' " by Michael McDonald. It was a cool touch. Of Limbo knows how to throw a party and keep the place rocking.
After a quick setup Animal from 104.1 The Blaze introduced Joyous Wolf from Orange County California! The boys were looking slick in their rock star duds. Bass player Greg had a cool and classic black leather jacket. Guitarist Blake Allard was rocking his signature open, flowing button-down shirt. Drummer Robert's long locks were flowing, and of course never one to be outdone, lead singer Nick stepped on stage with a sparkly, black sequin jacket and a skin-tight black muscle shirt. These boys know how to dress for the part.
The band opened with a yet-to-be-released song "Juniper" and got the room shaking right off the bat. It didn't take long before Blake was ripping wicked solos with his trademark smolder look. Next was another new track "Get Myself Right". This one had that cool Cheap Trick meets Rod Stewart vibe. It's cool to see so many bands bringing back the classic rock vibe. Long flowing hair, hard-driving solos, and soaring vocals. There's no auto-tune or samples to be found here, just straight up American rock and roll!
Somewhere between the first and second song Nick removed a little platform piece that was right in front of the stage. Nick motioned for our small but mighty "wolf pack" to bring it in. Everyone shifted up to be even closer to the rock awesomeness.
Joyous Wolf broke into their biggest Spotify song to date "Quiet Heart". This one has a light pop-rock ballad feel making all the ladies swoon. After another unreleased track "Storm" the band played their latest single that's making its way across the airwaves especially in Lincoln via 104.1 The Blaze, "Fearless". Nick shouted out The Blaze several times and thanked them for spinning the new track. This is how bands are built! A few months ago Joyous Wolf opened for Dirty Honey, and now they're back as the headliner. It's a smart move. I saw several Dirty Honey shirts in the crowd so you can literally see the strategy at work. With the combination of radio, magazines (such as this one, wink) and a bit of grit and determination there's no telling how far Joyous Wolf could take their career.
As the final notes rang out the raucous crowd screamed "one more song"! Nick said "All right, we'll do one more song but you have to promise to shake your booties off!" As the band kicked into a wicked cover of "Mississippi Queen" it was clear the crowd kept their word. Even Of Limbo joined in as everyone jumped around and celebrated the arrival of the weekend.
After the show Joyous Wolf hung out and talked to every fan, signing autographs and taking pictures. That's the way it's done folks. I've been going to shows for a long time now and I've seen it before. You know that band Nickelback? The one that exclusively plays arenas? Could you have guessed that they played The Royal Grove in 2001? It wasn't even sold out! But they stayed after the show, signed autographs, and took pictures on those crappy wind-up Kodak cameras. Look where they are now.
Hopefully in a few years I'll be able to say the same for Joyous Wolf!
A big thanks to 104.1 The Blaze for brining Joyous Wolf back to Lincoln and thanks to Joyous Wolf management for photo access. We'll be in Lincoln again this weekend (10/16/21) as The Blaze presents Mammoth WVH! Tickets are moving fast, but there's still time to get into the show. Click the link HERE, don't wait, do it now!