The Expendables lift up Grand Rapids during drab winter season

By David Specht | 2/12/14 6:47pm


Geoff Weers, the lead singer of the band The Expendables from Santa Cruz, CA, takes the stage at the Intersection on Thursday night. The band’s style is a combination of reggae and pop-punk with 1980s guitar riffs strung throughout. GVL / Hannah Mico.

In the midst of the 40-stop Winter Blackout Tour, The Expendables — a reggae rock band out of Santa Cruz, Cali. — stopped by The Intersection on Feb. 6 to share good vibes. Touring with fellow reggae artists Seedless and Stick Figure, bass lines certainly weren’t the only thick and heavy things that the front room stage, The Stache, was filled with.

Since the group formed in 1997, it has released five albums and toured with other American bands from the west coast such as Pepper and Slightly Stoopid, whose record label, Stoopid Records, The Expendables are signed to. In terms of style, the band blends reggae and hard rock, resulting in a sound driven by a staccato pulse with the occasional heavy metal lick. The ensemble’s lyrics are equally as varied as the instrumentals, with topics ranging from romance to drinking to mind control.

The group’s unique material mixed with its overall experience is key to the live performances, said Kevin Kitsch, bassist for the Grand Rapids rock trio, Kastanza.

“One thing that I noticed about The Expendables is that their vocals were spot-on during their performance,” said Kitsch, who attended the show at The Intersection. “As a musician, that is something that I really, truly respect.”

Kitsch said the relatively small size of The Stache made for a close-quarters performance that was more intimate than that of the larger arenas that might typically host a big-name band.

Throughout the two-hour set, The Expendables produced a steady flow of fan-favorites, including “Let Her Go” from the 2004 album “Gettin’ Filthy” and “Down Down Down” off the self-titled album from 2007. Also thrown into the mix were songs from their latest album, “Prove It!,” as well as the latest single “Zombies in America.”

At the peak of the band’s performance, the house had packed in nearly 300 people, who were eager to dance throughout every area in the front room — merchandise booths included. With the less-than-ideal driving conditions West Michigan has experienced as a result of the harsh winter weather, the sizable crowd that the band was able to draw to The Stache was impressive.

The Expendable’s lead vocalist and guitarist, Geoff Weers, said the unpleasant conditions in Grand Rapids are nothing new.

“The harsh winter weather has definitely been a factor,” Weers said. “We’ve almost had to cancel a few shows, but we kept pushing through and so far it’s been great.”

Weers said he had visited the area in the past, performing with his fellow band members on The Intersection’s main stage, as well as at The Orbit Room.

“We’ll definitely be back to Grand Rapids; you guys know how to party here,” he said.

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