It takes a special kind of artist to coax the over-40 demographic out of the house on a Sunday night. They have to be not too intense, not too sleepy, but just right.
Red Wanting Blue fits into that window comfortably, having two decades of experience creating their Americana-based rock sound. Their extensive catalog lended itself to a well rounded set at Last Exit Live in downtown Phoenix that somehow felt fresh and cozy at the same time.
Newcomer/opener Liz Brasher immediately turned heads with her commanding vocals, taking the stage for a full hour with her own spin on Memphis rock. The cuts from her brand new OutcastEP flowed one into another with limited banter and self-promotion except for a quiet. “If you like this song, or any of these songs, you can find them back there.” In a definite highlight of the evening, she slipped in a cover of “Jolene” and pulled it off (a rare feat).
Side note: her self-published Spotify bio says she “makes her own kind of southern music: one that’s caught halfway between the garage, the church, the bar, and the bedroom” — isn’t that fantastic?
Once the crowd had appropriately thickened, Red Wanting Blue settled into the stage that seemed a little small for the five of them. They smiled knowingly at each other and launched into a gritty 75 minutes of tracks old and new. Lead singer Scott Terry’s vocals soared over the anthems, and a deep satisfaction emanated from the crowd.
Red Wanting Blue built their fan base completely organically, from college bars in the 90s to small venues like Last Exit Live. It’s not hard to see how. Terry is an incredibly entertaining frontman; he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Give or take, every third photo features him beaming or making a funny facial expression. His comfort in the spotlight is undoubtedly one of the reasons the band is such a mainstay in indie rock. Also, despite its ever-changing band member lineup, RWB has the kind of onstage chemistry that is fitting for a small venue that draws you in but doesn’t exclude you because there are too many inside jokes.
For that reason, the gathering Sunday night at Last Exit Live felt like a reunion of old friends. The rounds of drinks were plentiful, the music was soulful, and the audience was fully engaged in the moment.
In the era of smartphone concert videos, it was nothing short of a miracle.