I realize I’m given to excessive love for singers, bands, musicians in general. But when talking about live shows, statements such as “It was the best show I’ve seen all year” are not comments that I make lightly. I see a lot of live music; last year, I saw more than 80 live performances. Having that many under your belt gives you a lot of options for “the best,” so it’s not easy for me to bestow that title.
But, I can say this without a doubt: Hands down, Saints of Valory‘s performance at Crown Station last night was the best show I’ve seen all year.
This little quartet from Austin plays with such passion and heart – and it was evident to everyone in that room. I watched people who didn’t know their music at all turn into fans last night. Huge, soaring vocals. Intricate guitar work. Simple and beautiful keys. Then there’s world’s most silent man, Gerard Bouvier, who plays drums like a lion – his quiet personality completely belies his skill. When you combine their talents with an intimate, micro-sized venue like Crown Station, you’ve got a recipe for a magical show.
When artists genuinely want to connect with their audience, there’s an electricity that’s created and just can’t be matched – and last night’s show was chock full of spark and ignition. They played nearly everything off of their Bright Lights album (they call it an EP, but I think they’re taking the very literal definition of EP), both “new” songs from the Neon Eyes EP, and even performed a few new songs, including “Million to None,” which could easily become a new favorite of mine.
I have a thing for bands where there are more vocals than just the lead singer, and SOV does not disappoint here. Guitarist Godfrey Thomson and keyboardist Stephen Buckle lend their voices on a lot of songs to produce a veritable choir. Then there was this small, almost imperceptible thing that I noticed. If you study Gavin while he sings, he makes these little hand motions that might seem like they’re personal – reaching a hand out towards the audience ever so slightly, holding his hand to his chest, or touching his head like he’s thinking – but they’re really part of the performance, pulling you into the songs, making you feel the songs on his level. The recorded CD couldn’t possibly capture these energies…you’ve got to just see it live.
When I ask my friends to come out to shows, they never let me down – and there’s always one or two out of a big group that walk away with a CD or saying they really like the band. But last night, I watched my friends, along with other people that didn’t know their music, become fans. They were, like me, caught up in the magic of their show. And that high that you can only get from seeing a truly great music performance, carried over into today, as I watched my friends tweet, blog, and tweet some more about the band and their own connections with the music.
To put icing on the evening, the band was just the nicest, most down-to-earth group of guys, who were content to hang out with us after the show for a few hours (yes, hours) telling stories, laughing at our crazy antics, and talking music.
The thing is…Saints of Valory is a band truly on the way up. They’ve got so much passion for what they’re doing, and their music is already so good, but you can hear it getting even better. From the CD, which was released in November, to now, they’ve made just small tweaks to songs – guitar bits here, a slight lyric shift there – and the songs are richer because of it. The new songs they’re playing, some of them literally just written in the last few weeks, are incredible. I have no doubts that by the next time I see them these songs will be really developed and absolutely floor me.
Mark my words – these guys are going to continue to push their own envelope. You want to be on this journey with them. Buy their music, but more importantly, get your tush out to a show to see them. And prepare yourself, because you’re going to fall in love with Saints of Valory.