The excitement was palpable as we entered Subterranean on Saturday night for Vintage Blue’s record release show. The place was packed tighter than the red line during rush hour. The lineup for the evening was kicked off by Elisa Grace. After that Vintage Blue playing to a room full of fans, and then Ty Stone (a Detroit rocker who is signed to Kid Rock’s label). The crowd was already pretty jacked when we got there about halfway through Grace’s set, and they never really calmed down. Booze was everywhwere, but the crowd was laid back enough that I never imagined any kind of fights breaking out (unlike the time I saw Titus Andronicus at the same venue and thought EVERYONE wanted to fight). Vintage Blue is a party-type band, so this kind of audience is exactly what they want to be playing for. And they didn’t disappoint one bit. In fact, my only real issue was that I was standing so close that the sound was a little drum-heavy.
I want to highlight three moments during the show that were true highlights. The whole show was very good, and I recommend checking Vintage Blue out at a live performance because they have a lot of fun and it’s contagious. It’s hard not to leave one of their shows without a smile on your face. These moments that I’m discussing weren’t picked at random, they each represent something special about the band.
The first moment I want to mention is Ryan Tibbs’ performance of the song “Great Divide.” Most of the band left the stage, so it was just Tibbs, a cellist, and vocalist Caitlin Simone. It’s the most emotionally raw song on the new record, Strike The Mics, so it makes sense to bring the energy level down a notch. Tibbs’ voice matches the material so well, and his harmonies with Simone are spot on. This was about the halfway point, so it was a good time to hold off on the amped up rock and roll, and give the crowd something a little more introspective. It’s probably my favorite song of their original works, and they absolutely nailed it.
The second moment I want to talk about was a surprise. Vintage Blue used to go by the name Tanglewood, which many of their fans know. The shocker for the evening was the band bringing up their old guitar player, Seth Howard, to jam on one song. I’d never seen nor heard of him before, but the guy was crazy talented. His style reminded me a lot of Carlos Santana. He’s got a great rock attitude, as well. Standing up on stage with his aviators he looked like a guy born to do this. I don’t know what the song they played together was called (or if it was original or a cover), but it was great. I know they were playing their own record release show, but I would have loved to see more of that guy.
Lastly, I’d like to highlight the bands version of “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. It was by no means perfect, and I think they’d be the first to point that out. However, for a young band to cover a song that is as relevant today as it was in 1966, I must stand up and applaud. They also made good use of the song as one that they could break down and introduce everyone in the band. It’s hard to tell from the video I took, but Simone in particular really took care of business. On a personal note, I also covered this song. It was at a reception when I was four years old. I’m sure it was awful, but to hear my father tell the story you’d think I was Elton John singing at Princess Di’s funeral. Not a dry eye in the house.
Technically Strike The Mics comes out on Valentine’s Day, so the show went off a little early. I think it will work to Vintage Blue’s advantage because now people will be talking about what a great show they put on. Hopefully everyone in the audience buys at least one copy (though it kinda sounded like a lot of them either have it or have heard it already). Maybe those of you who weren’t in attendance need a gift for that special someone on February 14th. I couldn’t think of anything better.