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August 16, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
On the street, Justin Fremont melds with the crowd. His demeanor is reserved. When he talks, his soft voice is sometimes hard to hear. The only things pronounced about him are two tattoos on his forearms and a pair of neon tennis shoes. On the stage, however, Fremont commands attention as the lead singer and guitarist of Just Free.
The band’s sound is reminiscent of early metal influences, such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but the modern garage sound brings out the grittiness of hard rock music. The Columbia-based band will put on a show during this year’s Mid-Missouri PrideFest.
Just Free’s live show is as physical and visual as it is musical. Fremont says it’s hard for him to remain on the stage during the show. The energy and music take over his actions, and before anybody knows it, he’s in the crowd spinning with his guitar like a rock ’n’ roll tornado.
Although the group’s influences stem from hard rock and heavy metal, not all its songs reflect that. Fremont says the track that’s gotten the most radio play, “Seattle,” is an acoustic one that he recorded in a stairwell at a studio. The track’s only instruments are Fremont’s acoustic guitar, a tambourine and homemade percussion from stomping on the stairs.
Just Free has been together since May 2010 and has released two LPs in that time. The band is currently writing new material, some of which has already been incorporated into the band’s live show.
Fremont says he is particularly excited to perform the new song “You” for the PrideFest crowd. “It’s our first song that is themed around just being yourself,” Fremont says. “Obviously, you want to leave songs open to interpretation, but pieces of the song hint at gay marriage and making it legal.”
This is not the first PrideFest for the band. In 2011, the group played Pride St. Louis, which was the largest crowd Fremont has entertained. “There was a sea of people in front of us,” he says. “It felt like we were at Woodstock.”
Although Columbia’s PrideFest will be smaller than St. Louis’ bash, that doesn’t stop the guys from being eager for the show. “Any time you can play in front of a large group of people, it’s an exciting feeling,” Fremont says. “I may look jittery and nervous, but that’s just because I’m so anxious to get on stage and start playing.”
Fremont says he’s not satisfied with just playing on stage. He wants to make sure the audience feels the emotion he puts into each act. His passion makes for a visceral concert-going experience. With this much stage energy, Just Free promises to captivate PrideFest’s audience with its hard rock-influenced sound.