Here’s the thing about concerts in Maryland: It’s an almost guaranteed great time; the fans go wild, and their excitement is always palpable. Ask any artist who has ever played there on a tour, and they’ll say the crowd’s energy was amazing. So, imagine the pure exhilaration in the air when Maryland’s pioneers of progressive rock, Crack The Sky, kicked off their tour of select dates this past Friday, November 3, at Rams Head on Stage in Annapolis, MD. From the euphoric aura of the attendees to the spectacular performance by Crack The Sky, saying the show was a great time would be an absolute understatement.
Though initially coming together in Weirton, WV, in 1974, Crack The Sky has been a staple of the Maryland music scene for nearly 50 years. When the band released their self-titled debut album in 1975, their then-label failed to get physical copies shipped to most cities, ultimately making Crack The Sky unavailable for purchase. However, miraculously, Baltimore, MD, somehow ended up with a surplus shipment, and love for both the album and band soared. Ever since, Crack The Sky has held a special place in the hearts of Maryland music fans, and vice versa.
Crack The Sky played with levels of passion, joy, and energy that were truly incredible to observe after almost 50 years of performing. The smiles plastered across the band’s faces the entire time, coupled with their playful interactions with one another on stage, also made it plain to see just how much they relish in still doing so together. With lead vocalist John Palumbo also on guitar, and guitarists Rick Witkowski and Bobby Hird, keyboardist Glenn Workman, bassist Dave DeMarco, and drummer Joey D’Amico all also on vocals, the performance itself was almost orchestral. Not in the sense that it sounded like orchestra music, but in the way Crack The Sky beautifully and cohesively blended so many different instruments and other sonic aspects to create pure musical artistry.
After fueling the spirited crowd with a load of Crack The Sky's classic hits, including "Nuclear Apathy," "Sea Epic," and "Skin Deep," Palumbo informed everyone it was time to slow things down with a couple of acoustic songs. The band then began "Don't Close Your Eyes" from their most recent and 20th album release, From the Wood, and the joy in the room skyrocketed, as the track is also the no. 1 single ever released by Maryland-born-and-raised rock band KIX. After a gorgeous performance full of soft, mesmerizing instrumentals and stunning vocal harmonies, Witkowski addressed the crowd.
"John Palumbo is an original songwriter on that track, everyone! He even has a gold record for it; I saw it when he let me visit his house once."
The room filled with laughter, and Palumbo turned to face his bandmate as he joked, "Don't worry, I'll let you come back!"
The crowd roared with laughter again as Crack The Sky continued their set. Playing another song off the new album and even more fan favorites, every audience member delighted in their performance. From passionately singing along to every word to dancing along with the band as they played, the crowd's love and pride for Crack The Sky was evident to everyone at the venue. Rams Head On Stage radiated with their glee.
Towards the end of their, Crack The Sky enthralled the audience with a mash-up rendition of one of their biggest songs, "Surf City." The stunning mix of the band's classic hits included flawlessly blending in "Maybe I Can Fool Everybody," "Techni Generation," "All American Boy," and "Hot Razors In My Heart." Screams of joy continuously erupted from the audience as the band sparkled with zest on stage.
As the "Surf City" remix ended, Crack The Sky thanked the crowd for all their support and enthusiasm and left the stage. But after a few moments, the band took to the stage again for one more song, the audience cheering with pleasure. Playing with the same expertise and animation as before, Crack The Sky performed a cover of "I Am the Walrus" by rock-and-roll legends The Beatles. There wasn't a still body in the venue as both the band and attendees enthusiastically danced along. And as the song's final notes rang out, the smiles plastered on Crack The Sky's faces mirrored those of their fans, the mutual love, appreciation, and joy on full display.
For more information on Crack The Sky, check out our review of their most recent & 20th album release, From the Wood.
Photos taken by & provided courtesy of David Arnold.