The other blog I write for has a sign up sheet. It’s this expansive list of upcoming shows that are free game for any of the writers or photographers. It’s a great system because you see shows on that list that you may not have known about. It’s a terrible system because your friends that you work at the blog with have the ability to sign you up for shows and, being the concertholic I am, I rarely notice that my name is on something I didn’t sign up for. That’s how I ended up at The Varsity Theater last night. It’s not that I didn’t want a show but when doing the preview (a small blurb the other blog posts to help get people interested in the show), I realized just what this “friend” had done to me.
I’m not one of those people who will say they listen to everything except for country. Lines are often blurred when it comes to many genres and one of those genres is country. I mean, my favorite band is Lucero and they are definitely country but this blend of punk country. There are other country artists that I don’t mind or have odd obsessions with but there’s a very fine line for me. I can’t do the country music where they sing about pick-up trucks and drinking generic beers that taste like water. It just doesn’t do anything for me. Unfortunately, from what I learned when writing my preview for the show, I was starting to feel like that’s exactly the kind of show I was getting myself into. After a couple of drinks (okay, more than a couple), my friend and I made our way down to the venue and I braced for impact.
Caylee Hammack was the sole opener for the sold out show. Just like the headliner, Caylee hails from Nashville, Tennessee and definitely brought that vibe to the stage. She looked gorgeous as she took her spot behind the microphone and within seconds her voice said everything that needed to be said. Although she definitely have a bit too much of country in her for my liking, there was absolutely no denying the power behind her voice or her lyrics. She sang with an undeniable sense of conviction that had even the most cynical country-music listener trying to eat up every single word. She came off as very sweet and kind but with a bit of an edge to her. Her smooth voice seemed to be juxtaposed by her party-girl attitude that shined brighter than the spotlights that stayed on her throughout her quick twenty-five minute set.
I couldn’t tell you what songs she sang and I was unable to catch any lyrics but, strangely enough, I didn’t care. I am typically such a lyric person. Music is an escape for me so I try to find songs with lyrics that I can relate to. I didn’t have that during Caylee’s set but that didn’t ruin anything. Again, it was just something about her that had me sold. A little Carrie Underwood sweetness with a little Pink attitude, country or not, I definitely didn’t hate it and although I was a little less than optimistic when walking into the show last night, her set definitely had me singing a different tune (although I’d never admit that to my friend– she’s still dead to me).
The night moved fast and before I knew it headliner Lanco was on the stage and ready to go. Their entrance onto the stage was nothing short of impressive. With lights whizzing around to distract the audience, it was a nice surprise when the stage lights turned on to reveal the band that had snuck on stage at some point. The lights never stopped whizzing and Lanco had the audience dancing and singing along to every song during their impressive nearly hour and a half long set. Although, like Caylee, they brought Nashville to Minneapolis, their sound definitely leaned more towards the pop world than the country world. Their infectious and fun beats had me sole within the first song. Maybe it was the alcohol or maybe it was the party like atmosphere- regardless, Lanco had me sold within the first couple of songs.
The five piece group showed many sides throughout their Saturday night set. From the fun-loving pop songs that I could easily hear on top-40 radio to their more deep cuts that definitely had a more Nashville vibe to them, all of the songs told a cohesive story about this band. Their flawless cover of The Killers ‘Mr. Brightside’ may have confused me a little bit (I mean, if you’re a country band shouldn’t you be covering country songs?) but it was just so damn good I couldn’t help but sing-a-long. A fairly new bad to the scene, they did play a lot of covers. Following The Killers’ song, the band jumped into the crowd where they continued to do a medley of covers that was definitely a bit more country-centric. “Seventeen” and “Drink in My Hand” by Eric Church, “Sold” by John Michael Montgomery, and even a clip of “Free Fallin'” by the one and only Tom Petty, Lanco knew what the crowd wanted and that’s exactly what they gave.
I walked into last night’s show a bit worried and completely lost in a sea of flannel shirts and cowboy boots. I honestly wanted to be anywhere but there as I waited for the music to start but, when it started, I was more than happy to be where I was. Don’t put yourself in a box when it comes to what you listen to. Go out there and go to a concert you never thought you’d enjoy. I bet you’ll be surprised.
Venue: Varsity Theater
Sausage Fest Meter- 5.1 out of 10
Average Age of the Crowd- 36
Crowd Surfers- None
Hoedown Ability- 8.4 out of 10
Stage Divers- None
Clothing of Choice- Plaid, Cowboy Boots, Cowboy Hats
Broken Bones- 0
Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing
Idiots Taken Out By Security- None
Celebrity Sightings- None
Overall Score- 7.4 out of 10
Show on Deck- Amigo the Devil/ Harley Poe
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