Leather and moonshine decked the sweet natural wood surfaces of Frye Boots at the base of The Thompson Hotel in the Gulch last Friday night. The alluring new space is host to not only one of the world’s legendary boot brands, but also a bar and a performance stage with a modern living space feel. This night it featured an equally unique event, as Big Machine Label Group artist A Thousand Horses played the room. The band added an element of comparable comfort and style.
Seated up front, in writer’s round fashion, were lead vocalist Michael Hobby, lead guitarist Bill Satcher, Zach Brown on guitar and vocals with Graham Deloach on bass and vocals. Do not be misled, this was anything but a round.
A Thousand Horses sets the scene with a bit of Old Crow Medicine Show meets the Allman Brothers meets Counting Crows. The quartet – performing with additional band members— sported individual style that created a pallet of eclectic cohesiveness. Members of the band donning Fedoras and Bowlers, coupled with the flair of style- savvy back-up singers, presented a stage picture of hipness. Visually, dynamically and musically they are a force to be reckoned with.
A Thousand Horses first gained popularity in the UK, where they established a large fan base. Their single Smoke reached #1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart in 2015; the band gained acclaim thanks to Joseph Hudak of Rolling Stone Magazine, in which he referred to the band as “Country Music’s New Lynyrd Skynyrd.”
The performance on Friday was seamless and calmly spirited, even with the full band jam. The set up is somewhat indicative of their video Back To Me (at Tanque Verde Ranch 2015) arounda campfire. They are fascinating to watch. A live video of colors, clothes, and storytelling. They fit beautifully on stage. The picture is set for an exceptional showcase, but for one thing…
The sound. While it may benefit a moreintimate “unplugged” setting, unfortunately, the space was not ideally suited for the performance. A challenge from the start, the vocals were muddy, and though expertly executed, the music was lost inside the three walls of the in-set stage. The crowd in the outer room missed out.
During the set, highlights included: Hobby on harp and a bit of country rap mixed with southern rock. These boys had a hard sale in this space but it is evident they have whatit takes. This Ain’t No Drunk Dial with its beautiful fiddle intro, expertly executed by Brian Purwin, and sing along catchy lyrics, is a crowd pleaser. Trailer Trashed – a bit Kid Rock a bit Jason Aldean – was also a hit. Background vocalists, Kristen Rogers and Brianne Angarole, brought a full gospel sound and beauty to the music.