This is my fourth article for Substream and I wanted to slightly shake things up a little this time. In my previous three pieces, I wrote about super emotional topics like my father’s loss, the passing of a client/friend, and the aging process. Pretty heavy. Now I’m going to give some information on a bunch of bands that should’ve been MUCH bigger than they were. All of these bands achieved varying degrees of success, but none of them are currently stadium acts in the states, and I sincerely believe that all of them should be. I probably missed your favorite underrated band along the way, but, hey, that’s horse racing.
In honor of this being my fourth Substream feature, here’s four underrated bands that should’ve been way bigger than they were/are:
- Ludo – Oh, Ludo! They stormed the local scene in St. Louis in the early 2000s to become a major headline act with their quirky blend of theatrics, epic guitar solos, and clever lyrics. To feverishly build/satisfy its fan base, Ludo released an independent full length and badass EP rock opera before signing to a major label (Island Records). The band’s first release for Island entitled You’re Awful, I Love You had a minor hit with its first single “Love Me Dead,” but the band’s follow up Prepare The Preparations is THE true unsung gem. The band split up in 2012 shortly after its second major label release, and recently played two sold out Halloween shows in St. Louis last year; I truly wish that I flew out for one or both. I’ve been to at least one date of nearly every Warped Tour from 1998-2018, and while doing so, witnessed hundreds of bands rock out in the scorching heat. Ludo’s 2008 set on Long Island blew every other act I saw on Warped out of the water.
- Silverchair – Speaking of live sets, Silverchair’s show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London in 2003 was the best concert I’ve ever been to in my thirty-eight years of life. I keep hoping for a new show to take its place, but I doubt that it ever will. If you look up the word progress in the dictionary, there should be a large picture of Silverchair. The band signed a major label deal when each member was a teenager, and grew so much musically on each album. Silverchair had a bunch of radio hits in the 90s, but its fourth release Diorama (my favorite album by the band) went highly unnoticed in the states. It’s a low down dirty shame. With Beach Boys harmonies, ridiculously gorgeous vocals, and a high caliber blend of symphonic rock, Diorama is a modern masterpiece. The band followed Diorama with another epic beauty known as Young Modern and hung its hat in 2001. Much respect.
- Superdrag – I think it should be a federal crime to NOT use the word “underrated” when one talks about Superdrag. Seriously. The band’s major label debut Regretfully Yours contained an amazing song you may know called “Sucked Out,” but its follow up (that subsequently got the band dropped – Head Trip In Every Key) is an album’s album. Front to back perfection. The band knew that they were probably going to lose major label support after its release, so they spared no expense in the studio. I am hesitant to compare any band’s album to a Beatles record, but Superdrag sure came close with Head Trip In Every Key, and it’s follow up In The Valley of Dying Stars, which contains my favorite song of all time (“Unprepared”). The band’s next two releases had some great songs, but didn’t have the magic of their first three albums. Still, John Davis could sing me a freaking Grubhub order, and I’d be beyond tantalized. I am very happy that I caught the band’s reunion tour at the Troubadour in 2008, but I’m quite sad that Superdrag hasn’t performed anywhere since 2010.
- IAMDYNAMITE – Three words into one. Two dudes. That’s it. It’s rare to go to a show to see a band that you love and watch them get trumped by an opener that you never heard of. This happened at the Sum 41 tenth anniversary show for Does This Look Infected? at the House of Blues in West Hollywood (R.I.P.) in 2013. Let me make this clear: I LOVE Sum 41. I truly do. But this was IAMDYNAMITE’s night, and I became a super fan shortly after the band hit the stage. The band’s debut album Supermegafantastic (also three words into one) is a catchy, riffy, rock and harmony fest. The band’s follow up Wasa Tusa, may as well be a different band, but it still kills with Sting-esque vocals, beachy guitars, and multi-layered instrumentation. I’ve seen this band 4 times, and played with ‘em with Lido Beach at the Knitting Factory in NYC once. IAMDYNAMITE still plays shows, albeit more sporadically than it used to, so if the band comes to your town, GO! That is all.
Also, please listen this Spotify mix containing an underrated track from each listed underrated band.