text: Evie Saphire-Bernstein | photography: Peter Kulak
As some scholar once said, “It is only because of suckage that we know what true greatness is.” Or something like that. You get the idea. And that thought—fragment—made up idea?—was the only thing running through my mind as The Royalty launched into their first song Say the Word during their performance at the Beat Kitchen in Chicago Wednesday night.
You never really know how good “good” is, until it’s face to face with “terrible.” The band that went on before them was the worst thing I’d ever heard, and I considered bailing, article demands be damned. But luckily, I stuck it out, and was rewarded with the dynamic, foot-stomping, good time that is The Royalty.
As the band started Say the Word, the crowd was taken in by the lead singer’s strong vocals immediately. I was hooked. Floored. She danced and sang and had me wishing I was singing and dancing up there with her. She was not looking for love from the audience but instead radiated it to everyone watching her. After the first song, she called out, “Oh, guys you’re so far away, won’t you come closer?” And like the Pied Piper to the children, the audience needed no more instruction. They moved in closer, and from that moment on, she had the audience in the palm of her hand.
Next, the band sang their single, I Want You. She half-jumped, half-bopped across the stage with the guitarists and drummer, who were jamming in their own worlds, but always on the beat. The band did nine songs in total, ranging from hyper energetic I Want You to the very mellow and jazzy Witchcraft. The keyboardist, Daniel Martin Jr. really electrified the show. It was his playing that created the excited energy. You could feel everyone turning to a friend and saying, “Are you seeing this? This is awesome!” It was like everyone watching was having the same thought: These guys are going places.
The audience was in no way huge, but what was lacking in numbers, was made up for in enthusiasm. Through the whole show, The Royalty wove a spell over the audience, turning the most disinterested listener into a believer. And their last song illustrated this perfectly. Launching into Bartender, a song the band is obviously very comfortable playing, the Royalty seemed to forget about the audience completely. They lost all pretense, all idea of pleasing others – they sang that song for themselves. And killed it. The drummer’s performance on that song was legendary. But it was Nicole Boudreau, the lead singer, who really made the difference. With her sometimes smoky, sometimes girlishly high, sometimes fierce and sometimes dreamy and soft voice, Nicole brought all the elements of her band together, creating the perfect sound.
Throughout the entire show, the drums were powerful and deep, the keyboard was light and full, the guitars were loud and in perfect sync and Nicole’s buttery voice flew over the instruments with perfect purpose. The band will be huge – mark my words. You saw it here first, people.