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Last Night: Cadillac Sky, Seryn at House of Blues' Cambridge Room

Cadillac Sky, Seryn
House of Blues
July 8, 2010

Better Than: a hoot--it was a hoot and a half.

Cadillac Sky performing "Born Lonesome" last night at the House of Blues.

Cadillac Sky guitarist David Mayfield took a sweaty pause from his emphatic playing to  patiently teach the crowd at the House of Blues' Cambridge Room crowd a few bars from his band's song, "Break My Heart Again." It was pretty a standard audience-participation bit--he was simply asking the crowd to sing "C'mon, break my heart again" when instructed.

Eventually, they were ready.

"Just the ladies!"

A tinny, petite effort of "C'mon break my heart again" followed.

"Alright! Now the guys!"

The same line echoed in a bass-heavy masculine drone.

"Now, only if you're named Edward!"

A few milliseconds late, a faint, but faithful, "C'mon break my heart again" cried out from the merch table at the back of the Cambridge room.

The audience and the fellows on stage burst out with laughter and praise for the lone Edward. Their faces plastered with smiles--as if their grins had ever left--the boys get right back to the music.

This moment, several other literal LOL incidents, and their songs made this Cadillac Sky performance one of the best we've seen all year.

When upright bassist Andy Moritz, a.k.a "Panda", first took the stage, a faceless member of the crowd shouted, "Give us a solo, Andy!" From this moment on, it was clear that the band was amongst friends, family, and fans, all more than happy to have their boys home again.

In response, frontman Bryan Simpson made several heartfelt notations during his band's 90-minute set about how pleased they were to be back in Texas after having spent time on the road promoting their new Letters In The Deep album. Evidently, Texas was glad to have them back as well.

The audience was sufficient, filling the venue but allowing a polite wiggle room. And it was extremely diverse, too: From the elderly man tapping his toe two rows back to the cluster of dolled-up cowgirls in their rhinestoned best to the mother explaining the science of an accordion to her nine-year old daughter on my left, it made for a beautiful array of people from wall to wall. One overarching quality of each individual, however, was their excitement regarding the night's performance. And Cadillac Sky did not disappoint.

Among the highlights was an unexpected Death Cab for Cutie cover. Simpson, with his mandolin, and violinist Ross Holmes now on the acoustic guitar, stepped off stage and into the audience.

"Where are all the lovers tonight?"asked Simpson. "Anyone in love?"

A few timid couples issued their "Woo!" or their applause.

"Anyone here tonight not in love?"

An even more timid group of singles made their presence known.

"Alright--all you guys pair up," Simpson responded before shouting "Find somebody now!" as Holmes started picking the intro to Death Cab's "I Will Follow You Into The Dark." And so started one of my favorite high school songs--and, with it, all the emotions that my swelling 16-year-old heart was feeling for some poor unknowing fool at the time. With that bias as a disclaimer, it was a very beautifully done rendition: Starting with only Simpson and Holmes plucking away, the thin sound of the unplugged duo was later complimented nicely by Moritz and banjoist Matt Menefee.

Less sweet, but arguably a more appropriate song to identify with the high school experience, was their track, "Inside Joke." Simpson warned the audience prematurely that Moritz was going to drop some serious beats on this song, and to get ready. Surprisingly, though, the most unique beats came from David "Mayhem" Mayfield. Halfway through the song, Mayfield challenged an audience member to a dance-off, which was less of an invitation and more of a "Hey--this is happening. What you got?" Bringing his mic into the crowd, he proceeded to grind and shake in this poor, unprepared woman's face. She was a good sport about it all, grinding right back, and gracefully took her defeat.

Then Mayfield comes over to me, happily stationed front-row center, and puts the mic to use. In the flurry of animation and goofiness that seems to be incessantly surrounding this talented young man, he begins beatboxing to the joy and amazement of spectators. Quickly shifting this rootsy folk song to its "chopped 'n' screwed" version with his skills on the mic, Mayfield danced and twisted the imaginary turn tables at his finger tips.

Their best song of the night, though? "Born Lonesome," which I was lucky enough to get footage of (See the above clip--and allow me to apologize for the occasional encouraging outburst. I just couldn't help myself). Second on the set list, "Born Lonesome" is a fan-favorite from the band's 2007 release, Blind Man Walking. The vocals, as was true for the entire night, were pristine and the sound. Aside from a small feedback issue during "Trash Bag" as the only minute exception, the sound was impeccable.

Not to be forgotten is opening act Seryn. The young Dentonites took some time acclimating to their "plugged-in" set, elegantly pressing on through minor sound issues at first. But the quintet soon blossomed in much the same way as each of their songs do from beginning to end.


In short: This show was a blast. Cadillac Sky's music is just as infectious as the personalities of each of its members (who we introduced you to earlier this week); it creeps up on you, and, by the end of the night, you feel like you not only know those guys, but that you could invite any of them out for a drink--and they'd even accept (weather permitting).

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The complete lack of pretention and ability to not take themselves too seriously really made this band come off as quite the amazing lot. And, as a testament to their genuine appreciation of their crowd last night, upon the completion of the last track in their encore ("Drinking"), they immediately hopped into the crowd and started shaking their fans' hands in thanks.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I interviewed Bryan Simpson a couple of weeks ago and was instantly impressed with his humility. And, at this show, I was convinced that these guys are the real deal. Not only do they appear to be solid individuals, but they have amazing talents to back that up.

By The Way: I don't know that I've ever seen that much sweat in a beard and/or flying out of a beard. It literally pooled onto Simpson's mandolin and was flicked away with each strum.

Random Note: The second song of their encore, "How Mountain Girls," was performed a capella by the five in a classic barbershop quartet demeanor. Absolutely brilliant.

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