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Lullwater rock Madison's Inferno

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Lullwater and Ra perform on 2014 Critical Mass tour at the Inferno in Madison, Wis.

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The Critical Mass tour kicked off at the Inferno in Madison, Wis., on Feb. 26. The tour features Lullwater, Adakain and Ra. It was a show that offered three alternative styles that came together for a full night of music. The tour runs through mid-March as it heads east to New York before rolling down the East coast.

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Lullwater is fronted by brothers John and Brett Strickland on guitars with John also contributing on lead vocals. The effect is a gritty, grunge-influenced sound that's perfect for his gravelly delivery. Their energy was driven by bassist Roy Beatty's heavy rhythm that was tightly coupled to Joe Wilson's work on the kit. Their debut eponymous album draws influences from grunge, though their sound goes beyond a definitive genre.

Performing for a hard rock crowd--the show was promoted by WJJO Solid Rock--the assembled mass quickly got into their set as Lullwater opened with "Oddline." Bassist Roy Beatty delivered a pounding rhythm that supported John's energetic stage presence. However, it was "Broken Wings" that truly shined on the evening. Brett showed his chops with multiple lead breaks that flowed into John's howling verses, eventually churning into a all-out jam-session that quickly raised the intensity inside the Inferno.

Lullwater closed their set with the moody "Tug of War." Dark, emotional riffs tangled into Beatty's thick bass lines resulted in a dissonant but infectious groove. It's no surprise this was their first single from the album. The delicate introduction builds with John's vocals and climaxes into a solid chorus enhanced by vocal harmonies before retreating back to the guitar only to build for another crescendo and guitar solo. If you're heading out to see Ra on the Critical Mass tour, definitely settle in early for Lullwater's set.

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Remaining Critical Mass tour dates:

2/28 - Fort Wayne, Ind. - Piere's
3/01 - Flint, Mich. - Machine Shop
3/02 - Battle Creek, Mich. - Planet Rock
3/03 - Kent, Ohio - Outpost
3/05 - Reading, Pa. Reverb
3/06 - New York, N.Y. - Slake 2 Webster Hall
3/07 - Hagerstown, Md. - Hard Times Café
3/08 - Lawrence, Mass. - The Claddagh
3/09 - North Salisbury, Mass. - Blue Ocean Music Hall
3/10 - Stanhope, N.J. - Dingbatz
3/11 - Winchester, Va. - Sweet Caroline's
3/12 - Charlotte, N.C. - Amos/ Music Factory
3/14 - Jacksonville, N.C. - Hooligans

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