If you entered Webster Hall Studio blindfolded or with your eyes closed, you wouldn’t guess that the trio onstage were all, well, children.
And even watching Unlocking The Truth play live with eyes wide open, it’s hard to believe how just young they are. Because the much-talked-about Brooklyn metallers play with an authority and authenticity that bands twice their age – and that’d be 26 at the most – often fail to achieve. Sure, much of the hype and attention is because of their age, and how and why three pubescent kids from Bedford-Stuyvesant play heavy metal (and play it so well at that) but remove the age factor and the trio are still one of the most impressive live acts in the genre.
Tonight, they take to the stage at 9pm – which must be close to their bedtime – in front of a crowd full of their friends, family and strangers, no doubt interested as to why this group just signed a deal with Sony worth a potential $1.7million. But as soon as they start playing, all that gumpf surrounding them disappears. Despite his miniature stature, guitarist and singer Malcolm Brickhouse is an imposing, confident frontboy – both adorable and just a little bit bratty – while bassist Alec Atkins acts as his front of stage sidekick. Behind them both, drummer Jarad Dawkins looks like he’s keeping them in line, helping them focus and preventing their super-youthful attention spans from running away.
For the first 40 minute or so, the trio’s composure is flawless, storming through Free As You Wanna Be and Take Control as if they’ve been playing these songs for decades. Brickhouse’s voice may not have broken yet, but his vocals are powerful and commanding, and Escape and the slower, sludge of Maelstrom swirl with power and potency. Towards the end of the set, Brickhouse and Atkins each take turns to wander through the crowd with their instruments before leaving Dawkins alone for a drum solo that, impressive as it is, lasts just slightly too long. When his buddies return, Dawkins brings a handful of kids from the crowd onstage and makes a speech about them being “the next generation”. It’s heartwarming, inspiring stuff – even if it’s coming from a 12 year-old. That’s when attentions begin to wane slightly and the fact that they’re children becomes apparent. After Future Wannabe, Brickhouse giggles that “somebody farted onstage”, and Dawkins goes AWOL for a few minutes, as if he’s forgotten where he is and what he’s meant to be doing. When he returns, they blast through the best-known song, Monster, before walking offstage to be surrounded by their family.
“This is our future,” announces a grown man, presumably a relative, wearing one of the band’s shirts into the microphone. “Right here, this is our future.” He’s not wrong.