When I was younger seeing live music was a constant in my life. Before and during my high school years there was always a flow of bands stopping in the area. We had a venue (Ag Hall) that held around 2000 people and during that era a lot of bands that became more popular later on came through town. Bands like ZZ Top, Aerosmith and AC/DC played in halls this size across the country. You had to be a pretty big band to play somewhere like The Spectrum in Philadelphia and only the largest bands like The Rolling Stones played stadium shows. The sound in Ag Hall wasn’t great – metal walls and ceiling and a concrete floor – but tickets were cheap and there was a constant flow of bands there and at other smaller venues. Today we have a couple of mid sized venues in the area, but I think that being as close as we are to New York and Philadelphia puts us at a disadvantage as most bands will stop in those cities and not book another show to an area this close. Live music is finally making a comeback after the last two years of insanity. I’m looking forward to seeing more live music and sharing the experience on the blog. This show was at The Fillmore in Philadelphia. It’s a nice venue with some cool visual features. We would definitely go back there to see other shows.
The Dead South is a band I’ve really wanted to see live over the last couple of years. As you can tell with our ‘Messin’ With The Music’ series I’ve really gravitated to the idea of using acoustic instruments in recordings. The Dead South is a prime example of a band that uses instruments that were typically considered ‘bluegrass’ or ‘folk’ in a less traditional manner. Their instrumental line up consists of acoustic guitar, banjo, mandolin and cello (played more like you would use an electric bass). All four members of the band contribute vocals which really fills out the sound. In concert they add a small miced kick drum that adds a booming rhythm to some of the songs. The show was non stop energy from start to finish. The band has their own distinctive look with white shirts, black trousers and flat brimmed hats. The playing and singing is fun and ‘aggressive’, definitely veering closer to rock or punk than folk. Their stage set up mirrored the music with each player having his own mic and all four members lined up across the front of the stage. They each had their own ‘icon’ pictured in a stained glass window prop behind their mic area. A lot of country and bluegrass songs carry lyrical themes of ‘death, cheatin’, drinkin’ and hard living’. The Dead South take some of these themes to an intentionally hilarious extreme. It was fun hearing the crowd singing along to the songs. The set list was put together real well so there never was a dead spot where the show lost energy. I’ll definitely go see them again if I get the opportunity.
When I’m at a show I’ll take some pictures but I don’t do video (at least not yet). I only have my phone with me and I’d rather enjoy the show than think about getting a good video. If you want to get a feel for what a live Dead South show is like, I’ve attached a video below of a full set they did at House Of Blues. Watch a little or a lot. Enjoy.
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band opened the show. I’ve seen them do a headline show before and it was awesome. They didn’t disappoint as the opening band for this show. The band is made up of Rev Peyton on guitar and vocals, his wife Breezy on washboard and Max Senteney on drums (he uses a five gallon plastic bucket for a floor tom – interesting sound). The band specializes in delta or ‘hill country’ blues. It’s a finger picking style linked to players like Charlie Patton. You play the bass line with your thumb and fingerpick the upper notes and chords. As usual the Rev was blazing on the slide guitar parts. In an opening set he used four different guitars, switching quickly between songs. The show was full throttle fun and they entertained with a ton of personality. They play about 250 shows a year and you can tell by how tight their playing and showmanship is. They got the audience fully participating on ‘Clap Your Hands’ and raised the energy level through the roof. I don’t know how you could see the Big Damn Band and not have a great time and a big smile. As a guitar player it’s always impressive to hear how full the band sounds with one melodic instrument. Seeing them live I watch his hands as he’s playing just to pick up some ideas on technique. It takes a lot of work to sound so loose and still fill up so much space. If they’re ever in your area, the band is a ‘must see’. You won’t be disappointed.
Here’s some live video to give you a taste of a Big Damn Band Show.