Material: At the Top in Long Beach is an odd venue, located above what looks like a sort of Irish bar. On a Saturday night that sees traffic almost at a standstill, as people try to get to the destination of their weekend festivities, getting to the gig and getting parked up provides challenge enough. Thankfully, the strong blues-rock played by RMB (initials that we think stand for the Randell Milan Band, given the frontman’s name) was worth the effort, though not necessarily based on the material alone. In truth, take away that passionate delivery, particularly of Milan, and you’re left with some fairly standard blues- rock. Just an hour after the set has ended, there were no songs lingering in the old memory banks. That’s probably something the guys can work on.
Musicianship: All three, of the core RMB members, are exemplary musicians. Galvan is gifted, too though his Latin-flavored percussion is all too often lost in the mix, which is a shame. Alcantar is a flamboyant and fun bassist, while Soto is clearly there to do more than keep a simple beat, though he does that effectively. Milan has a strong voice, which holds the whole thing together, though he’s equally adept at wrestling emotive notes from his instrument. As a unit, the RMB is tighter than a Long Beach parking spot on a Saturday night.
Performance: This is where the real fun aspect of this band lies. Soto is all smiles from behind his kit, his mop of hair a hypnotic presence as he keeps the groove. Meanwhile, Alcantar never misses an opportunity to pogo. But again, all eyes are on Milan. The guy is a naturally charismatic frontman who can pull off what would normally be cringe-worthy moments, like getting his band together to bump collective fists football-style before the set, because he’s not trying to be cool. His authenticity is infectious; the guy just wants to play the songs that he’s written, and have a good time doing it.
Summary: At the Top was packed for this show (the band’s Sober Soul album is out now), all apparently psyched to see RMB. It was a young crowd, too, considering the bluesy style of music being offered, which suggests there’s a college radio market for these guys, who could easily appeal to fans of Blues Traveller, G. Love, and even Jack White and Beck.
The Players: Randell Milan, vocals, guitar; Carlos Soto, drums; Jose Alcantar, bass. Plus, for this show, Marcus Cruz-Galvan, percussion.
Photos by Brett Callwood