By Christian Villarreal
The Blue Stones is a two-man band that gave an incredible performance at The Ballroom in Austin, Texas on Oct 15. The Ballroom was a surprisingly small venue, but that did not limit the experience.
The walls of the venue were lined with red curtains and string lights running along the rafters. The décor of the venue was grand in its design despite the small size of the venue. It can hold about 50 people total. The space was only occupied by myself and a few others until the opening act started.
The opening act, Maybird, was an interesting band to say the least. They played amazing songs with psychedelic performances from every member. The singer and lead guitarist was dressed as if they were in Wayne’s World, which threw me off a little. The performance was amazing and filled with original content that is definitely worth listening to.
I have been a long-time listener of The Blue Stones. The first time I heard them was when a friend recommended them to me in high school. I listened to the first album Black Holes and became an instant fan. On the surface, The Blue Stones seem like an alternative punk rock band but there is so much more to them, especially in their live performances. The Blue Stones are currently on their Hidden Gems tour for their new album. The performance felt like a showcase of everything they had to offer musically.
It is hard to describe the performance of The Blue Stones. The first two words that come to mind are intense and memorable. The band started off with a classic song, “Shakin’ Off the Rust.” There were some technical difficulties halfway through, but the band decided to restart the song to give us the full experience, resulting in the first eight-minute version of the song according to the band.
From then on, there were no hiccups because every moment the band played was full of intense emotion, especially from the lead singer and guitarist, Tarek Jafar.
Jafar would often run up into the crowd as he played, he even took the phone of a fan just to record a video of him running on stage. In terms of his performance, his skills on the guitar are unmatched. There were many moments where I wondered how he was doing it all himself. Jafar’s proficiency on the guitar is not the only thing that made the show, it was the lyricism that he incorporates into his songs and the patterns of them.
It is clear on their album, Hidden Gems, that The Blue Stones draw influences from a variety of artists and genres. Jafar’s lyrical style is very much R&B, hip-hop and rap inspired. The songs have a natural flow to them makes you feel like it’s not just some rock song, it is a combination of a variety of inspirations. Several factors come together and make each song unique and memorable. The diversity that is expressed in The Blue Stones’ music is what initially attracted me to the band, but being able to jam out as hard as I can to some of the harder songs is also a big reason why I listen to them.
That being said, not every song is filled with high energy. Some of them come down and take a slower pace but still have an energy that captivates the entire audience.
The Blue Stones are a band like none other, they can draw from a multitude of sources yet maintain originality in their sound. A large part of that is because of the lyrical style of the lead singer Jafar. In almost every song, Jafar goes back-and-forth from screaming his lungs out like a traditional punk rocker, to a soft melody and then a patterned rhythm that you would find in R&B music. It is different, new, amazing and what music should be at its core: something that’s unique but also inspired by everything you’ve listened to.
I’ve heard it said that a band is only as good as its drummer and if that is true, The Blue Stones are one of the best bands out there. Justin Tessier is not only technically proficient, but he has a natural feeling of what should happen in any song, even if things need to be improvised. There were moments where Jafar would go back and need a second to tune or fix something and Tessier would continue on with fills to make sure that there was always music there for the audience.
With only two people in the band, it is necessary to have a variety of sounds from very limited sources, but Tessier defies expectations and sets a whole new standard for what modern drumming looks like today. Tessier’s performance was precise, fast and incredibly passionate. There were moments where he would create a sound far beyond what anyone thought a single person could do.
The Blue Stones are a passionate band. If you haven’t heard the music yet, I suggest you give them a listen. Finding new music and listening to live artists is something I’ve always loved. I love connecting with other people through music and The Blue Stone have given me that opportunity time and time again.
Featured Image by Christian Villarreal
Written by: ktsw899