Sometimes the build up to see an artist live for the first time ends in disappointment. This however was most certainly not the case when Sam Riggs and his band, The Night People, performed a set at the Midnight Rodeo in Austin this past Friday. Sam and his band of four delivered on all counts and then some. Performing with the intensity and vitality similar to an Eric Church show (complete with leg kick and occasional chest thump), Riggs has a stage presence that you can't not watch. He is a talented multi-instrumentalist who embraces the idea of putting on a show with accoutrements (strobe lights, smoke machine and throwing beads for Mardi Gras) that while fun, never detract from the main draw.....the music.
Whether skillfully playing fiddle, guitar, banjo or a drum solo (You Tube that), he balances professionalism with fun and the joy he had being on that stage was evident throughout the set. The setlist included, among others, soon to be radio single "Long Shot," "Collide," "Angola's Lament," and "Six Feet in the Ground." In addition, he played songs from the new album, which garnered incredibly positive feedback from the crowd.
There is no question Riggs loves what he does. He has incredible energy and kept the audience engaged during the performance with fan interaction, telling stories about the songs and making humorous comments. The crowd was somewhere in the low hundreds, but his motto of "5 or 5000" certainly held true. It was a show worthy of a much larger venue and crowd, which undoubtedly Riggs will be playing sooner than later....so enjoy the small settings while you still can.
For tour dates and more information visit his official website
Raleigh, NC-based roots rockers, American Aquarium returned home for two sold out shows January 30th and 31st at the Lincoln Theatre. The shows were album release kick-offs to support their most buzzed about album yet, Wolves, which hit retailers February 3rd. The first show, opened by The Black Lillies and Cory Branan, sold out so quickly that a second show was added. I grabbed tickets for that one which included John Moreland and Turnpike Troubadours.
First up was John Moreland. The Oklahoma singer/songwriter played a short, but amazing, solo acoustic set. His rich voice and gripping lyrics proved him very deserving of all the critical praise he has received. For a taste of his music, check out "Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore" and "I Need You To Tell Me Who I Am."
Next, Turnpike Troubadours took the stage for their high energy 45 minute set full of fan favorites. Front man Evan Felker and his band looked right at home. They fired up the crowd with their unique blend of country rock, folk and bluegrass. Every song they played was a highlight, but it was great that they included "Every Girl," "Whole Damn Town" and "Bossier City." This is a band I can’t recommend highly enough. I’ll definitely look forward to seeing them again.
Finally, at 11pm, American Aquarium began their 2 ½ hour show. Though billed as an album release show for their new album Wolves, it seemed more like a well crafted thank you note to their long time fans. Their setlist included every song from Wolves and just about any song that would be on a fan’s wish list. They seamlessly incorporated slow, moving songs such as "Man I’m Supposed To Be" with crowd friendly sing alongs like "Ain’t Going To The Bar Tonight." It’s hard to pick favorites from a 30 song setlist, but "Lonely Ain’t Easy," "Wichita Falls," "Wolves" and "Casualties" were standouts. Do yourself a favor and put American Aquarium on your list of bands to see and pick up a copy of their new album.
Thanks to Harriett Watkins for taking the time to write about the show for TDC.
American Aquarium, and their front man BJ Barham, is in a good place. This is not only evident on the songs you hear on Wolves, but is something that was on full display during their set at Mercury Lounge in NYC on Wolves release day February 3rd.
BJ appeared genuinely happy, thrilled for having a sold out crowd in NYC, but seemingly on a natural high (he is half a year sober) from all of the positive responses, from fans to media to fellow artists, to the excellent Wolves. He said there was one exception, a guy named Tom, who commented on the WSJ site that he hated the record. BJ said his old self would go on the site and write something back, but he refrained this time only saying "F- Tom" with a grin. Smiling throughout and incredibly at ease, he even--charmingly--bantered with some of the people in the audience.
All of that was a joy to see, but the real draw here is the music. From Whit's pedal steel to Kevin McClain's keeping the beat on the drums to Bill, Ryan (who didn't seem to have enough room to sway and play on that tiny stage) and newest member Colin (keep an eye on him: incredibly talented and fun to watch), they are a talented group who are one of the best live bands around. Their music is emotionally honest and filled with substance; realistic stories of regret, failure, growing older and of course, relationships. BJ's weathered voice and expressions convey the emotions of the lyrics in an always effective, yet sometimes sad, pensive manner that make you really feel what he sings, as he, eyes closed, seems to get lost in the songs as well. Songs included "The Man I'm Supposed To Be," "The Losing Side of Twenty-Five" (those lyrics & that hook!) "Southern Sadness," and "Family Problems." They closed with "Burn.Flicker.Die.," then, thanks to the sound guy, they were permitted to play one more tune. The crowd shouted out numerous requests, but instead they chose to play what they wanted: a John Prine tune so nobody gets "pissed off" that they chose one song over another. No one complained about the song choice, only that the show was over too soon.
I have seen American Aquarium play NYC four times over the past year and know that next time, the venue will be larger, the set will be longer......and the fans will be more than happy to be there with them.
Visit their official website here
Purchase Wolves here
The Bros. Landreth played Mercury Lounge in NYC on January 30th in support of their debut album, Let It Lie, which was released January 27th on Slate Creek Records. The band, anchored by brothers Joey and David Landreth, with Ariel Posen and Ryan Voth, may be from the great white north, but they play an amalgam of roots, southern rock and blues like they were raised in the deep south. The majority of their songs, including the title track, have a quiet, almost gentle quality to them; songs that require one to listen attentively, which the respectful crowd was more than willing to do. They also know how to turn up the tempo with more rocking numbers, like the twangy "Angelina," keeping the audience dancing and swaying. Their forty five minute set was full of songs with purpose, delivered by warm vocals, harmonies and skilled musicianship.
Bros. Landreth are must see for anyone who appreciates quality music. Be sure to check them out when they are in your town.
For more information visit their official website