For a moment on Saturday night, the Queen City experienced a heavy dose of Texas music…
Initially seeing that Flatland Cavalry with Shane Smith and the Saints would be making two stops in Charlotte was exciting but to be absolutely honest, we hadn’t listened to either nearly enough for an immediate ticket purchase. We were wrong.
After thinking back to seeing Flatland Cavalry on the front cover of The Music Fest Magazine for the Winter 2017/2018 edition, we knew they were an up and coming band with big things ahead. Having attended Mile 0 Fest, we spotted many Shane Smith and the Saints t-shirts even though they hadn’t been booked for the four day marathon. Both groups were on the radar but still hadn’t registered completely, although we (thankfully) decided to attend.
Puckett’s Farm Equipment is a small corner store that has been transformed into a live music venue perfect for fans who understand what they’re getting into and are there to experience good music in a unique environment. The sold out crowd on Saturday night knew both bands and for those that didn’t they won’t soon forget either. We binged on music from both groups in order to prepare and immediately became excited at the prospects of getting to see each in such a small space. Having witnessed The Turnpike Troubadours play a set here in June 2013, it felt as if both groups are on a similar trajectory.
Flatland Cavalry opened the night and front man Cleto Cordero immediately engaged the audience with his lyrics while fiddle player Laura Jane Houle kept pace alongside him. The group’s musical expertise aside, they have also managed to transform many of their songs into response style sing-a-longs, including “A Life Where We Work Out” off their latest album, released nearly two years ago.
Although it wasn’t the same without female vocals added from fellow artist Kaitlin Butts, Cordero still nailed it before adding that it is, in fact, not about gym memberships.
Shane Smith and the Saints were up next and just seconds into their set it was evident this group has a unique sound all their own. The harmonies are so on point it is almost uncanny and their lengthy, carrying fiddle tunes provided by Bennett Brown initially brought back memories from “The Last of the Mohicans,” a Daniel Day-Lewis film, directed by Michael Mann which was filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
The French and Indian War tale syncs nicely with their sound, especially given their second album, “Geronimo” carried the title given Smith’s fascination with the character and dual meaning of taking a leap of faith by producing songs and music unique to your own group and going against the grain.
Behind Smith, lead guitarist Tim Allen is extremely talented mixing in with bassist Chase Satterwhite, as all are kept in time with the base drum kicking Zach Stover in the back. The four-man ensemble kept the crowd entertained and wanting more once their set neared completion.
Smith addressed the crowd with time to play one more song and was met with a boisterous chant from the audience on hand. “Dance the Night Away” was repeated in succession four or five times before Smith, who may have actually been planning to play something else, thankfully succumbed to the will of those on hand.
An electric performance to end the set and leave those exiting with the tune lingering in the their heads before inviting Flatland Cavalry back on stage to conclude with what is quickly becoming an anticipated grand finale.
After catching video online of Cordero playing a kazoo during a show previously on the tour, we were hoping it would make an appearance when they arrived in North Carolina and both groups didn’t disappoint. Sharing the stage and instruments, the two bands left an impression on those in attendance at Puckett’s before exchanging a few pleasantries with fans and displaying a genuine appreciation for those in attendance.
Both Texas based bands were met with a sell out crowd for their first of two stops in North Carolina and will hopefully be returning soon. When they do, we’ll be among the first to grab some tickets.