Highly Suspect w/ Slothrust
Neptune Theatre, Seattle, WA

Grammy nominated Highly Suspect sold out the Neptune Theatre to an exuberant crowd. After a moody and nostalgic 90’s- feeling opening set form Slothrust, Highly Suspect took the stage, full of energy and the crowd was more then ready for it.

With their New York meets LA, sex, drugs, and rock and roll influence, Highly suspect delivers a unique blend of an old and new, soulful yet rebellious sound. In my opinion, it’s fairly obvious that the band has a diverse love of music and pulls inspiration from all of those loves.

Johnny “Terrible Johnny” as he calls himself, has such a strong personality and a sense of humor which is really palpable in his stage presence. Infecting what should be your typical, “bad-ass” full bodied rock with a little more punk, middle finger in the air attitude. All while delivering smooth, rich-in-tone vocals. I’ve seen Highly Suspect twice before and I was really impressed with how much they’ve grown since the last time I saw them at Bumbershoot 2017.

They played a very tight set, and their live sound has developed into a polished and deliciously layered sound. The first time I saw them live at the Crocodile, a few years back, I was really blown away with Ryan’s drumming. I often lock onto one musician at a show, and love tuning into them and trying to isolate every sound and move they make to see how it supports the whole band. This show at the Neptune, I bounced my attention around from member to member and felt pretty inspired and enamored by all of them. Rich on the bass is a killer and the newly added member, Matt, really filled out their soulful yet rambunctious sound.

The show started off with a blast of hits including a crowd favorite, “Bath Salts,” off of their debut album Mister Asylum (2015). Playing song after song, the crowd never lost for the lyrics to sing along to, it’s clearly impressive what a catalog of music Highly Suspect has created off of just two released albums. Their second album, The Boy Who Died Wolf (2016) includes, “My Name is Human,” a song that hit #1 on the charts and beloved songs, “Little One” and “Serotonia.” At each performance of these songs, and every song they played Thursday night, Highly Suspect was rewarded by the crowd with deafening energy.

Johnny thanked Seattle, or “sea-tull” as he kept jokingly pronouncing it, for selling out the venue. He never stopped interacting with his fans throughout the show. One time talking to a 13-year-old in the crowd, praising her parents for letting her come out to experience truth. “It’s all about Love…”

Fans are anxiously awaiting the release of their brand new album, MCID (November 1st) from which the song “16” has already topped the rock charts. “A rock song with not one guitar in it,” boasted Highly Suspect. It’s safe to say that fans, who begged for an authentic feeling, four-song encore at the end of the night, believe that rock is not dead. They, like myself, are ready to devour whatever Highly Suspect comes up with next.

Review by Jess Sandiforth
Photos by Samuel Lewis

Highly Suspect