Face it, the Beachland Tavern was really not that heavily packed last night, but every music lover that set foot in that bar for the Those Darlins / Turbo Fruits / Henry Wagons show all were treated to an amazing evening of music.
Three bands with three different backgrounds played the small stage not caring one bit how many tickets were sold. They were there to rock out and have fun with their fans, and that is exactly what happened.
It’s been about a year since Nashville’s Those Darlins graced Cleveland with their beauty, not to mention their amazing music making abilities. The ladies had a rough start to the summer when one of the Darlins took a tumble at a Southern Ohio music festival breaking her arm. This was just a small set back but their ladies (and drummer Lynn) had to take an unwanted break. Just a few months later the band regrouped, recorded a second album to be released in 2011, and hit the road doing what they love to do best.
If anyone knows something about the man behind BHP (you know, the guy who writes all this stuff) it is one thing: BHP hearts Those Darlins. I saw them 4 times alone last year. Overly impressed with their sound and live show-woman-ship, I never missed a show. Needless to say when I discovered they were coming back to the Beachland, I made plans to be there. I was excited to see them and hear perhaps a new song or two (more on that in a bit) but what I did not expect was the surprise that was the opening act, a man named Henry Wagons.
The moment I walked into the tavern I looked at the stage and there he was, a 6-foot tall Australian man with an acoustic guitar in hand. With shaggy hair, glasses, mustache and a sweet green headband he was already playing a song to the minimal crowd that seemed to suckle around the edges of the bar. He sung with an outlaw country vibe that immediately caught my attention. I felt I was listening to an Aussie version of Waylon Jennings but also had an amazing sense of humor. He called out the crowd a few times, made reference to the longest walk ever he experienced at Cleveland-Hopkins Airport and ended his songs with comedic heavily acted strums to his guitar.
Playing his own rendition of Kenny Roger’s “The Gambler”, or so he said, the crowd went crazy for it. I laughed when Henry Wagons said just before playing the song , “I wanna be like Kenny Rogers in another 10 to 15 years,” and also commenting that he lacks the silver-lining at the current moment. Another track he played had him screaming “Willie Nelson” over and over, it was amazing.
The winning song of his set to me was a cover of “Never Been To Spain”, a classic Elvis song that was in fact, not written by Elvis. While playing his set he commented that he was just one man from his band back home called Wagons and that it was his first trip to the states as well as his first night with Those Darlins and Turbo Fruits. After taking to his manager, who was touring with him later in the evening, I learned that they could not afford to have the whole band come over this time around but hope to change that next time they go on tour. After buying a Wagons CD after his set and listening to it on the way home all I have to say is this: I can not wait till Wagons plays the states. The CD is incredible.
Up next was another Nashville act called Turbo Fruits. They were a blend of Nashville and Detroit that was overly impressive, think Hank Williams meets Detroit Cobras. They had 50’s riffs in some songs and dipped into a blues feel during other tracks that had me almost overanalyzing them at times. My conclusion of them was simple though, they were a kick ass band that really put on a show. I especially enjoyed “Dreams For Sale” and “Volcano” and even went so far as to grabbing their LP after the show to check them out some more.
Finally the headliners of the evening, Those Darlins, took to the stage. This time around there were five folk on stage, the three Darlins, drummer Lynn, and some other dude. One would assume that they have a touring guitarist to help out with their shows or perhaps even help Nikki Darlin with some of the guitar duties seeing how she did break her arm in half as mentioned earlier.
Regardless, Those Darlins wasted no time jumping into their set starting off with “Who’s That Knocking At My Window”, a familiar track to most of the crowd. They sounded just as amazing as the previous times I saw them, if not better. They looked happy to be up on the stage and aimed to make sure all were going to have a good time.
Things soon changed for the good when the band decided to play a series of new songs from their upcoming release. With no setlist guiding their performance the girls would shout out the names of the songs and jump into them. Playing tracks like “Boys”, “Be A Brother”, and “Waste Away” it was clear that their sound had taken a turn from the country/punk feel their first album displayed so well.
Their new material mixed up 70’s rock with indie rock yet did not drop the sound where they came from. It was a good sound that all in the house went crazy for. I know I am not the only one excited for their upcoming release. To make matters even better, Lynn was providing back-up vocals on some of the tracks while Nikki focused on her singing duties losing the guitar. Every time the girls announced a new song was being played the crowd just stood their in great anticipation for what was going to come next. I can honestly admit that there was not one new song they played that I did not like and I was not the only one who felt that way. These girls were turning heads at the Beachland and it was not just from their good looks.
Wrapping up their set they played “Red Light Love”, “Wild One” and “Night Jogger”, a new track off their recently released 7″ split with Funsticks, a Jesse Darlin and Lynnwood side project. Making things even more fun they played the Funsticks song that appears on the 45 as well. Yeah, I might have picked one of those up al well…
This was one of the better shows I have been to as a whole seeing that I enjoyed all three bands that played. I can not even tell you the last time that I was this entertained by acts I had never heard of before. I went in there looking for a country/rock night and left with a whole other experience. Henry Wagons and the new material by Those Darlins were the major winners for me.
To think I almost skipped out on that show too. I am so glad I talked myself out of it. Totally worth it.