(Emerald Theatre, Mount Clemens, MI - Feb. 13th '03)
Taking the time out of your night to watch Step 13 perform is definitely not time wasted. Moreover, it could actually provide you with a firm platform for a new appreciation for local bands trying their hardest to create great music on a shoestring budget. Step 13 are one of those bands that, although not wholly original in either their musical constraints or stage mannerisms, still possess a lead singer with a powerful voice (albeit highly reminiscent of Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty) and a talented membership that come together in a quite resilient musical manner.
Opening the show for headliners Jocaine and Critical Bill, Step 13 culled from their debut EP Strange with the hard-edged ’Damn You’ before highlighting a new track from their forthcoming album, ’Wish I Could.’ Standing in front of a giant curtain backdrop, they looked dwarfed from the on-set, and to be honest the lackluster light display thrown at them from the venue didn’t aid them either! But, Step 13 are a really good band, and as aforementioned, when they’re playing as one they perform as a very viable musical unit. Which is the whole reason Step 13 could go places, for regardless of some unfortunate stage lighting and their subdued approach to a stage presence, the guys love what they do and obviously are willing to learn along the way.
A good, powerful, stand-out song, it was the title track from their EP that came next. Punctuated by Eric’s vocal strains, his lyrics punched out whilst he himself maneuvers stage left as if it were a home from home, ’Strange’ was brought to the fore. To the twinkling of white lights high above them, new track ’Sometimes’ is next, but it’s the track ’Lonely’ that finally allows that deep thought in the back of your mind to realize that the aforementioned effigy of Rob Thomas is up on that stage! Now don’t get me wrong, Step 13 are no Matchbox Twenty wannabes, but culling a sample or two from Thomas’ warble is where it’s obviously at for Eric - and it works for both he and the music hand over fist. New track ’Last Dance’ is presented next, before the upbeat, and back-on-track ’Feel’ brings the short set to a close with each band member walking off leaving the remainders playing themselves out one-by-one.
With both Jimmy and Ron’s guitar-driven songs riding the layered waves of Rodney’s keyboards, the sound of Step 13 elevates itself above most other non-descriptive local bands that endlessly tour the circuit. But, add in Billy’s drum lines and Rob’s subtle bass guitar and you’ve got yourself a musical beast in the making. All Step 13 need now are charismatic stage personas that although focus independently, seamlessly blend to become a musical enigma in the blink of an eye. They have the talent, they have the passion, now all they need is the belief in themselves that transcends all other dreams and ideals they may have previously set. All that and a better light man !!
Reviewed by Russell A. Trunk