Jim Morrison once said, “I’ve always thought comparisons were useless and ugly. It is a short cut to thinking.” No offense to Mr. Mojo Risin, but I’m not on LSD (presently) and the best way I know to get friends and people excited about bands they’ve never heard of is to compare them to ones they do.
This past Saturday night was the third annual Summer Shindig – an outdoor party thrown at a fantastic dive bar in Charleston, SC, called the Royal American, by local record label, Hearts & Plugs. All of the bands that performed are represented by this label and despite some early rain that passed by, the party was a good one.
Starting with the headliners and working my way down from the three bands I saw, there’s Brave Baby, Susto, and The High Divers. The common theme I’ve seen for successful bands from all genres are songs that provide great hooks and the bands can deliver them live just like they sound on their albums. Added instruments and on stage antics from there help boost bands from small bars to festivals. I can say all of these bands are well on their way. So, let’s not mince words here…these bands have spent a lot of time on their craft and it shows. The song writing, the lead singers, and especially the album production, are all exceptional.
Brave Baby’s second album, Electric Friends, was just dropped and is available on their website and Spotify. The album is worthy of its’ own review, which I am looking forward to writing, but I’ll focus on their show so this post doesn’t turn into a Danielle Steele novel. Brave Baby is a band that’s difficult to compare to another band, and that’s a strong quality. The first single off their new record, Plastic Skateboard, is a trippy, melodic song that makes me think of a modern Pink Floyd jam. I can easily picture myself driving down the coastal highway in my ’86 Firebird with the top down cranking this tune – cigarette hanging out the side window. Along with “Forty Bells,” a power anthem from their first album, the crowd was jumping and lead singer Keon Masters certainly had everyone’s attention. It’s hard to believe three years have passed since this Charleston Grit article, Why is No One Talking About Brave Baby?” I’d bet my money that will change with the momentum of Plastic Skateboard, their new album, and a ton of touring.
“Susto is real.com” is the name of their website, yet out came friend and guitarist, Johnny Delaware, dressed as Jesus Christ in full robe and beard to the 9s for “Chillin on the Beach with My Best Friend Jesus Christ.” Ok, is this real? Whatever it is it sounds good. Susto is poised for a national breakout having just opened for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats a few weeks ago for the Spoledo Festival, and they have Austin City Limits on their radar this upcoming October as part of a tour promoting their soon to be released sophomore album. If Susto had to be filed in a music category, it’d be “Southern Gothic, which is a genre of music characterized by a fusion of alternative rock and classic country/folk.” Man, labels suck. “Alt-country” isn’t much better. If someone told me they were going to see some Southern Goth band, I’d certainly snarl my nose. But Susto need not any labels. Their self-titled, debut album is a 10 track quality listen end to end. Lead singer and song-writer, Justin Osborne, has one of those rarely distinct voices that reverb and hit ranges all over the scale like an instrument itself, similar to Jakob Dylan.
THE HIGH DIVERS
The High Divers hit the stage as the third to last act, which in most concerts at best usually results in a patchy crowd of head bobbers. That was not the case with this set. A 360 degree view from my spot fifteen yards back from the stage was lots of dancing and singing along as the band fired through crowd-pleasing songs Summertime and Wild with You. Lead Singer, Luke Mitchell, won’t blow anyone away with his guitar skills, but his Joe Cocker strong voice and stage presence did plenty of the work. Add in the keys and trumpeter and the set was a well-oiled machine. I can see why they were tapped to play a campaign event for Bernie Sanders.
@thehighdivers got that #hpsummershindig feeling good @heartsandplugs #openears
A video posted by OpenEars (@openears_music) on
The five hours of quality songs had me asking one question, can we please make the Summer Shindig a monthly party? I’ll start the Sullivan Island beach party license work now just in case.
Check out the bands’ websites for tour and other info:
Note: Featured image borrowed with love from @bravebabymusic Instagram