If you’ve kept up with the musical blogosphere last year, there’s no way you haven’t heard about Sturgill Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. The classic country sound has struck a chord with thousands, and everybody wants to call him the Country Jesus Christ, although he’s reluctant to really take any praise.
Sturgill is from Kentucky, and along with his band puts a new spin on a vintage noise. On the album, drug-soaked Americana oozes out, but when played live the band turns things up to 11, kicking out energetic, funky rhythms to segue the outlaw sounds critics praise them for.
Last week, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, Sturgill Simpson had a sold out show. The $20 tickets were going for $100 on Stubhub the morning of, illustrating two points: this guy has a shit-ton of hype surrounding him, and he isn’t all about the money. These factors were even more obvious when Sturgill hit the stage in Brooklyn last Thursday.
For starters, you’ll be hard pressed to attend a show where the fans are singing the lyrics as loudly as they were that night. The crowd’s vocals were nearly as loud as Sturgill’s, as he effortless emulated the exact tones present on his album. The guy has some serious pipes, and although he was apparently sick and chugging cup after cup of tea, you wouldn’t know it by his performance.
The major highlight of the night, for me and many others, was the non-album segues that bridged different songs together in a unique way. The way his band would kick the energy up from alternative country, to rockin’ jam, to four-to-the-floor danceable funk, was nothing short of captivating. As a huge fan of String Cheese Incident, the parallels between the two were definitely present, and I wore a massive smile on my face the entire time.
Over an hour and a half, Sturgill Simpson and his supporting cast busted through damn-near every song they have. Each song was played faster than the album version with very little time spent on chitter chatter. It was no-frills, alternative country created in a way that made a bunch of Brooklynites salivate. With appearances scheduled for Governors Ball, Bonnaroo, Forecastle, Red Rocks (w/ the Avetts), and Newport Folk Festival, I can’t wait to see where Sturgill is at the end of this summer. If I had to put my money on it, he’ll be huge.