The Lone Bellow
Of all of the perfect venues I can imagine a laidback folk concert to be in, nothing better comes to mind than Red Butte. The late afternoon summer light illuminating the red rocks of the desert combined with the lavish garden complemented the performance that this Brooklyn-based trio had to show us.
I arrived to a packed crowd just before their set started and was impressed by the way they presented themselves onstage: They were very casual, but stood out nonetheless and their energy was nothing but positive. Each of their vocals harmonized beautifully. They’re one of those groups that sound just as good, if not better, live than they do recorded. The only female member of the band, Kanene Pipkin, had a beautiful deep singing voice that sounded great throughout the whole show.
What sets The Lone Bellow apart from other southern folk groups is the obvious influence that living in an urban environment has on their music both lyrically and sonically. When they performed “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold,” I liked the way they combined a fast-paced southern style of music with lyrics about living in New York City, and judging by the way the crowd reacted, I’d say this one was their most popular songs. Additionally, their ability to make their music relatable to people of all ages by using a wide range of subject matter made the show enjoyable for everyone. For example, a big hit with the crowd was “You Never Need Nobody,” a slower song about accepting that you’ll never feel good enough for someone’s affection. One thing I hate about live shows is when artists stand there and talk to one another through their microphones because they almost always say something that makes them sound like cocky assholes, but The Lone Bellow kept the banter between songs short and to the point, and made their set what it should be about: the music. Their onstage personality was great because they didn’t make the audience listen to the story behind every single songwriting process––"although their story is an interesting one. From the intimate way they perform, I can tell that they’re really passionate and have a close, personal affiliation with their songs.
They introduced the members of the band and gave a brief summary of their relationships to one another (Kanene’s husband was playing in the band that night as well) before going onto the next song. “We wrote this song about marital strife,” the lead singer Zach Williams announced before singing “Button,” a slow, bluesy song with seductive female vocals. They performed a cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” which excited the crowd as soon as they mentioned the name “John Prine.” Their rendition of the song was slowed down a bit, but their vocals honestly fit the song better than the original. They closed the show on a good note with “Carried Away,” a faster-paced acoustic song that featured an upright bass. Each member of the group played an instrument throughout the whole show and they generally all harmonized with one another. Although I’m definitely not the kind of person you would catch at a laidback summer afternoon concert, I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again. The Lone Bellow is currently touring with Brandy Carlisle around North America. You can find their debut, self-titled album here.