Michael Buckner, Getty Images They're over a month early, but Chely Wright's twins…
- Posted on Jul 24th 2010 11:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
"Even if it rains, let's have a party," lead singer Paul Sprangers said at the top of the set, speaking into a microphone that, like the rest of the band's equipment, the sound crew had just rushed to set up. The sky had turned an ominous Old Testament blue, and having perhaps been told of the National Weather Service's tornado warning, the group moved briskly yet casually through its ten-song set, intent on beating the rain but not harshing anyone's mellow.
Opener 'Free Energy,' featuring the line, "This is all we got tonight," set the tone. The best Free Energy songs are about being young and in love and living for the moment. "There's something in common / between us," goes the gloriously redundant chorus of 'Something in Common,' one of Friday's funky, Stonesy highlights.
The group is so practiced at its brand of big-riff '70s mustache rock that only one member, drummer Nick Shuminsky, bothers to actually wear a mustache. He's also the only one that plays the cowbell -- an instrument that, by rights, all five musicians should have hanging from their belts. Friday night, Shuminsky waited until the penultimate tune, 'Bang Pop,' to put stick to black metal, unleashing a mighty barnyard ping that would have fit perfectly into any of the preceding eight tunes.
A few songs earlier, during 'Young Hearts,' one of Free Energy's many nods to Thin Lizzy, Sprangers sang, "And now the kids are all dancing / a lightning trance," and "The sky is electric / my skin don't feel right." Given that the heavens had, by this time, begun to flash yellow, it felt as if Sprangers was tempting fate, daring the gods to strike down a group so earnest and endearing and committed to starting fans' weekends on a positive note.
"There's a cold front moving in -- let's do this thing," Sprangers said as he led the group into the final song, 'Hope Child.' Rather than Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, the Cars, the Doobie Brothers, the Stones or Bruce Springsteen, this final song sounded like AC/DC, a band named for two types of electrical current.
The gods once again forgave the subtle taunting and withheld their lightning bolts. It wasn't until after Free Energy finished that the skies opened up and the rains began to fall.