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1.26.2024: The Cold Stares @ 443 Social Club & Lounge

Updated: Jan 27

Some nights are just special. On a whim I decided to cover this show and boy am I glad I did! Before this, I'd not heard of The Cold Stares, nor the 443 Social Club. As a nerd, I should have heard of The Cold Stares, as they had a track on the soundtrack of Cyberpunk 2077, and as a CNY resident I should have heard of 443 Social Club, but somehow both had escaped my notice.

First the venue: let's be clear, 443 Social Club is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it presence on Burnet Ave; comparatively dwarfed by the building housing the locksmith next door and the looming presence of the old train station across the street. Adding to the secretive vibe is that there is only street parking, and the side streets aren't super well lit. The interior is about as intimate as you'll find. The setup is reminiscent of a coffee house or singer-songwriter focused cafe. The stage is only raised a single step of about a foot and the audience is seated at tables. They serve food even during the shows, and the menu, while mostly lighter fare, is satisfying and has something for everyone, including vegan options. During the show servers dash to and fro shuttling food and drink to the seated patrons. It is not the type of place to go if you're looking for a circle pit.

To the venue's credit, whoever was running the sound adapted brilliantly to the powerful rock that The Cold Stares brought. It could easily have been an unbalanced overpowering muddy mess, but instead all of the instruments were clear in the mix, and the vocals were crisp and the overall volume was not deafening. Hearing protection was on offer, with a glass full of packets of earplugs available just outside the bathrooms like spongey after dinner mints. I always wear hearing protection at shows. While this one was loud, it wasn't uncomfortable even without my plugs in. A word to the wise if you go: DO NOT camp in front of the water cooler (even though it is the best spot in the house to take photos), there is a sign and repeated offenders et politely but firmly reminded to get a move on!

Another poor cooler-blocking soul posing with the sign they also didn't read.

Let the show begin! I actually missed the very beginning of the show. Unlike most shows I've been to, there was no opener and it started right on time. This was a barn burner of a show. The Cold Stares are a 3 piece outfit comprised of front-man/guitarist Chris Tapp, bassist Bryce Klueh (pronounced like clean, but without the N), and with Brian Mallins on the drumkit. Together, they put out straightforward, old school bluesy rock. Throughout the night I kept finding myself comparing their sound to Led Zeppelin. Hailing from Kentucky, this 3-piece is a hidden gem of the American music scene. They have topped the charts (in Italy, with their single "In the Nighttime") and have appeared in a hit video game (the aforementioned Cyberpunk 2077), but had somehow escaped my notice until yesterday.

The Cold Stares delivering the goods.

From start to finish they had the crowd hollering and dancing in the aisles. Song after song, and minimal banter. I was most amused by the origins of the song "Two Keys and A Good Book" being front-man Chris Tapp's now-ex-wife going through a phase of both praying church style to keep him and voodoo style to punish him.

Chris Tapp

The sold-out crowd leaned older than other shows and venues I'd been to in the area, with most appearing to be in their late fifties, but don't thing that kept them from hollering and dancing and cheering. When the set was done, the crowd was still cheering for more. Many in the audience were already well familiar with the band and called out requests at various points during the show. I heard tell that one couple had driven the 5 or so hours from Amsterdam, NY just for this show. The Cold Stares were awarded the 443 Social Club's Golden Microphone award (complete with trophy) for selling out the place. After the show, the band manned their merch table, warmly greeting all their fans, signing autographs and selling merch. Sadly some fans (this journalist included) left empty handed, as in addition to tickets, they'd sold out of tee shirts too!

The Golden Mic, center stage.

The Cold Stares are continuing their tour tonight (1/27/2024) with a gig just down the Thruway tonight in Lima, NY. I highly recommend making the trip if you are able! The 443 Social Club is staying right where it is, but deserves to be on your radar if you like live music.

More Photos from The Cold Stares @ 443 Social Club:

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