Live Review: ROCKET at El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles, CA

Material: For better and for worse, every live show that ROCKET plays is a pivotal image that reflects off of the career-defining decision made by its two founding members, Eric Wibbelsmann and Paul DePatie. When the duo departed from their former band (The Pills), they recruited a vocalist named Janelle Barreto and essentially put their careers in her hands. This crucial hiring granted Barreto creative control as frontwoman and primary songwriter. Today, the music of ROCKET parallels Barreto’s love life, social environment and attitude. Nevertheless, the hard rock remnants of Wibbelsmann’s past still remain intact, as his original guitar riffs and harmonic sets are the foundation for which every song from ROCKET’s upcoming EP (Get Huge) was written and recorded.

Musicianship: With two lead guitarists and a plethora of compositions that feature chord progressions from modern rock as well as punk rock, ROCKET draws an appropriate comparison to bands like Velvet Revolver and Sum 41. Barreto sings melodies from “Fever” and “Remain” in a manner that is reminiscent of Ann Wilson on Heart’s debut album (Dreamboat Annie) in 1975. However, if this bold songwriter wants her band’s music to match the commercial success of that album in today’s market, she may have to venture into a deeper level of subject matter and add screaming to her vocal repertoire.

Performance: Barreto lassoed the attention of ROCKET’s loyal crowd with her Joan Jett-esque vocal tonality. She divulged the seven songs from her band’s set list on stage, as if she were attempting to playfully submerge anyone in the audience who displayed unfamiliarity with their content. The dual guitars of Wibbelsmann and Steve Kilcullen provided a hard rock undercurrent similar to the compositions that have been written by Audioslave. Meanwhile, Jordan Lawson and DePatie enhanced the audibility of ROCKET’s live show with the pop-punk elements that they provided as the band’s rhythm section.

Summary: From Bad Religion to Guns N’ Roses, the rock scene in Los Angeles has spawned more than its fair share of startup bands who eventually achieved most of the lofty goals they set for themselves. Perhaps this L.A.-based band can ride the momentum from their first KROQ radio campaign (which aired during 2016) to Janelle Barreto’s ambitious goal of signing a major record deal.

Contact: [email protected]
Web: thebandrocket.com
The Players: Janelle Barreto, vocals; Eric Wibbelsmann, guitar; Steve Kilcullen, guitar; Jordan Lawson, bass guitar; Paul DePatie, drums.