Two Great Bands + One Intimate Venue = Amazing Night of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Photos by: Daniel Coston
There is nothing quite like the feeling of going to see a good band play live from a few feet away. It’s an experience that a lot of people take for granted. If you’ve never gone into a small club or bar and watched a band pour their heart and soul out to just a handful of people, then you’re missing out. It’s fun to go see your favorite big band play at an arena or bigger sized club, but the feeling you get from seeing a really good band at in an intimate environment is almost indescribable. I recently went to The Evening Muse in Charlotte and witnessed two bands that gave me one of those unforgettable experiences.
Hailing from Knoxville, The Black Cadillacs sound like they traveled to the show in a Delorean coming straight from 1974. From the sound, the look and the way they played, it would be safe to say that if they were making music back then they would have been huge. Fortunately for me, though, I got to witness their incredible live show at a small and amazing venue. This was my first time seeing these guys play live, and honestly I hadn’t really listened to too much of their music before the show. I had actually just heard of them a couple of weeks prior, so I didn’t really know what to expect when they took to the stage. They started playing and I was immediately surprised by what I heard.
The group started off the set with a loud tune by the name of “Run, Run” that got everyone’s attention. Soon after, the people in attendance started moving closer to the stage and began dancing to every song the band pumped out. Loud is a good word to describe not just the opening number, but the whole set; these guys are an example of what rock ‘n’ roll sounded like when it was created, and what the genre is lacking today.
From the emotional, blues-laced guitar solos by Matthew Hyrka (like the one in “Find My Own Way”), to the way Adam Bonomo pounded away on the drums, every sound these guys made screamed rock ‘n’ roll. Vocalist Will Horton sang with emotion on every track, but on the slow, more bluesy songs like “100 Guns” and “Fracture”, his vocals really stood out. Rhythm guitarist John Phillips and bassists Philip Anderson seemed to be the lead the group through their uptempo style and one-of-a-kind tone. This is, by far, one of the best live bands I’ve seen in a while, make sure to follow them on social media and check out their website for upcoming shows that may be around your area.
One of Charlotte’s own groups closed out the show that night, and they put a ringing in the crowd’s ears, as well as a smile on their faces. Pullman Strike is a great band that squeezes the sounds of rock, country and alternative together and pours it all over their songs. I’ve seen this five-piece once before, and I’ve been a big fan ever since. They have one of the most unique sounds in the Charlotte area due to the fact that they have a pedal steel guitarist and that they utilize the lead vocals of two members rather than just one. Add that to the fact that this group writes some really great music and knows how to put on a show and you’re in for a treat every time they play.
The band put out their second album, Silver Lining, earlier this year and played all nine tracks from the album for this show. Starting the show off with the catchy, upbeat and easy to sing along to tune “It Ain’t Yet (My Time)”, they started to capture the audience’s attention from that first guitar riff. That riff is one of those that will stick to your brain and make you want to come back for more.They followed that up with a no-frills march through the rest of the set with a steady pace that kept everyone on their feet and dancing. The second song of the night, “Easy Lyin”, was my first chance to hear Derek Young on vocals.
Young recently joined the group after the departure of former member Evan Stepp, and he did a fantastic job thumping on the bass as well as belting out the lyrics. Favorites of mine — “Get Loud” and “Suitcase” — sounded great, and guitarist/vocalists Neil Mauney was spot on with his guitar solos, which give the songs an old school rock feel. The country vibe the outfit has stems from the sweet sounds of the pedal steel guitar played amazingly by Wes Hamilton.
The harmonies Hamilton and Mauney pull of on some of the solos are mindblowing. The powerful drumming of Daniel Beckham really drives that rock ‘n’ roll spirit the band has though. Adding lots of flavor to the sound with his fills and uptempo style. The guys finished the set with the track that closes out their album, “(You Don’t Have To) Come Home”, a really great tune that showcases each member’s talents, and a perfect way to end an amazing show.
If you’re looking for that one of kind experience you get from seeing a really great live band, you have two options here that are very capable of feeding you that desire. The Black Cadillacs have their tour schedule on their website as well as Facebook and Twitter: you have no excuse not to try to catch a show with that kind of information. Pullman Strike primarily play in the Carolinas, but are worth the drive for you out-of-towners reading this. You can also keep up with them through Facebook and Twitter. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll be able to catch them both on the same bill.