More New Than Classic, Classic Than New: Big Head Todd & The Monsters

Milwaukee, Wisconsin – The 1990’s is a decade that many music fans look back on with particularly fond memory. Saturated with poppy hooks, punchy rhythms, and grungy guitars, there was certainly a playbook to success that many bands of that time embraced to great effect. And then, there was Big Head Todd & The Monsters. For all their commercial success, Big Head Todd flashed a unique set of stylistic cues that were deviant for their time. Vocalist Todd Mohr brought a distinctly soulful influence to instrumentation that had all the trappings of classic blues and rock n’ roll music, cementing Big Head Todd & The Monsters among, but apart from, the bevy of music groups that rose to prominence in the 1990’s.

All of Big Head Todd’s idiosyncrasies were on full display last night at the historic Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Taking the stage at 8:05 PM without the support of an opener, the band emerged to a crowd at near capacity with excitement that swelled to bursting at the first sound to come from the venue’s PA system. This was vintage Big Head Todd, but with an enthusiasm that felt anything but classic. Drummer Brian Nevin and bassist Rob Squires spearheaded a tight, energetic rhythm section that had the crowd moving from the very start of their set through to the last song of their 15 minute encore performance.

Todd Mohr himself, bearing a noggin of decidedly average dimension, delivered an inspired performance devoid of any semblance of aging despite the nearly four decade span of his group’s career. Unlike similar artists who have shown a tendency for vocal wear due to the techniques employed during the height of the 1990’s grunge craze, Mohr retained his trademark dynamic vocal range and soulful distortion which inundated the large concert hall without need for backing tracks or complex harmonies. His scorching guitar solos further stoked the flames set alight by the band’s exuberant musical energy and stage presence.

All in all, at the end of a two hour set that included all of the band’s biggest hits, Big Head Todd & The Monsters provided an inspired and ageless performance that captivated everybody in attendance; from the concert floor faithful to the balcony seat on-lookers.

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