I jinxed it. When I posted my weekly calendar I made a snarky comment that the snowmaggedon headed towards the Twin Cities better not mess with my concert schedule for the week. It did and sadly I was left without a show on both Wednesday and Thursday so to say that I was ready to get out of the house and get to a show on Friday night would be an understatement. I wanted it. I needed it. I was ready for it.

Kicking things off at The Fine Line on Friday was Canadian singer-songwriter Billy Raffoul. Although he is classified as a singer-songwriter, I feel like that’s just not an accurate description of what Billy is. Sure, the first few songs of the set were slow and calm like a traditional singer-songwriter but the set quickly ramped up into a truly rocking set. “I wish we could say we are going to warm you up but we are actually going to make you feel everything for the first few tracks”, Billy joked at the beginning of the set. Joined by just another guitarist who also added high pitched vocals here and there throughout the set, Billy had the entire audience of The Fine Line completely entranced throughout his fifty minute set. After just a song or two, Billy took a moment to comment on how respectful the crowd was with the silence during and between his slower tracks instead of having the sound of bar noise being the star and I think that says a lot about his power as a musician and entertainer.

I’ve been a big fan of Billy Raffoul but haven’t had the chance to catch him live since back in February 2018 when he opened for ZZ Ward at The First Avenue mainroom. Although I still listen to his music from time to time, I completely forgot how much I love watching this man perform and how much I love his personality. Billy is a bit of a contradiction. When he speaks, his voice is smooth but, when he sings, there’s a smoky raspiness to it that is absolutely stunning. His songs are super serious and deep but, between tracks, this man absolutely has jokes and a sense of humor that shines. Still don’t believe me that he is a walking contradiction? He played his song “Acoustic” on an electric guitar.

I really cannot understate the personality that shines between tracks when it comes to seeing Billy Raffoul live. From talking about how he and his buddy are doing this entire tour in a Volkswagon Jetta to his story about his song “Coffee” (long story short, he once made a joke that it was about the coffee at Holiday Inn Express hotels. That caught on and people started tagging the hotel chain in their posts featuring Billy to the point where now the hotel follows him on Instagram– basically, Holiday Inn Express– please sponsor this man!). Although his music absolutely stood out as being flawless and full of heart, seeing this side of him brought a sense of personality to his set that I feel a lot of “singer-songwriters” forget is super important.

I’ll be honest, I had gotten what I wanted out of the show by the time Billy left the stage. It’s not that I wasn’t excited to finally catch American Authors, more that I was left completely stunned and speechless by Billy Raffoul’s set. That’s when I saw the banjo take the stage and, you may recall, I am a sucker for a good banjo.

American Authors is a pop-rock band currently based in New York City. They have been around since 2006 and have been one of the hardest working bands in the scene. I’ve loved watching this band grow over the years and seeing the grind they are putting in but Friday night was my first time experiencing their music (why even lie and pretend like I have heard their music before although I’m sure they’re on some playlist that I’ve listened to) and live show.

Right off the bat, the band brought a sense of hope and positivity to the packed venue. With a sound that I would describe as the lovechild of Judah and the Lion and Fitz and the Tantrums who was raised by Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, the audience was eating up every second of the fifteen song set. From the moments that had a very rocking vibe to those moments that had a more delicate tenderness to them, the audience was singing along and even dancing at times in a way that told me everything I needed to know about this band.

American Authors’ audience is dedicated and truly loves this band. I feel like I spent more time watching the people around me than actually watching the stage just because I was so in love with their love for the band. Confusing, I know, but I felt a little bit out of place and seeing this admiration that flowed from the stage, to the audience, and back made me feel a bit more at home. Mix that with the goosebump inducing harmonies that the four men on stage would break into throughout their set and you were left with a set that, although not quite my thing as it had a very church camp vibe to me, had me sold.

The moments that I was able to tear my eyes away from the audience and focus on the stage were monopolized by vocalist Zac Barnett. This man has a voice in him that is deafeningly powerful. It’s not aggressive and it oh so silky smooth but that’s not what had me so stunned. It was the sheer power and passion that came through with every word that I was eating up. I don’t know if that passion and power was due to Zac being in his hometown (he was actually born in Minnetonka) or not but I’d like to believe that is just how he always performs and, from what I’ve seen online and heard from other people, it is just him.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the rest of the band. Everyone on the stage was amazing and the show (and music) wouldn’t have been what it was without each of the other three band members. The chemistry between them, like the chemistry between band and audience, was just the icing on the cake of their stand-out performance on Friday night.

There were surprises throughout the set including a cover of The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” that was so unique yet maybe better than the original (okay, that’s a bold statement because “Mr. Brightside” is a masterpiece but it was a damn good cover), to time spent getting up close and personal with the audience (which you will just have to go and see the band live to really understand). American Authors’ music may not be something that I am going to start listening to daily but their live show is one that I will never pass up a chance to experience again.

Line Up:

Billy Raffoul

American Authors

Venue: Fine Line

Smell-O-Meter: Nothing Notable

Average Age of the Crowd: 23

Crowd Surfers- None

Stage Divers- None

Mosh-ability- 1 out of 10

Sausage-Fest Meter- 4 out of 10

Amount of Beer Spilled On Me While Walking Around- $0

Broken Bones- None

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- None Witnessed

Pukers- 0

Randomly Shirtless Men – 0

Passed Out Kids- 0

Idiots Taken Out By Security – None Spotted

How Irritated I Was With The Audience – 0 out of 10

How Many Times I’ve Seen These Bands Before (or at least how many times I can remember)-

Billy Raffoul – 1

American Authors – 0

Celebrity Sightings – None

Overall Score- 8.9 out of 10

Show on Deck — Viagra Boys / The Steens

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