This article can fall under the category of bands I’d like to see at Summer Camp in 2019. Both The Dead South and Whiskey Shivers would fit right into the eclectic lineup that Summer Camp boasts year in and year out.
Like most, my first encounter with The Dead South was their viral video for “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company” floating across my newsfeed. The song is an ear worm and the video itself is incredibly clever. So I dug a little deeper. The Dead South is a Canadian bluegrass band often referred to as “Mumford and Sons’ evil twin.” Their show at the 650 person Aggie Theater had been sold out for weeks, and when I arrived a line stretched down the block. There was a palpable excitement in the air as we ventured inside.
We were treated to the first of two openers in the form of singer-songwriter Del Suelo aka Erik Mehlsen. Del Suelo is Spanish for The Ground and he too hails from Saskatchewan, Canada. This was the first of five dates he shared with The Dead South and he confessed to the crowd that it was also his first time touring on a bus with a band. He performed a slew of original tunes including the reggae-tinged “2nd Encore” and the downtempo look at addiction “Walk The Plank.” The crowd chattered relentlessly during his set, which didn’t help the singer. His studio work feels pretty complete, but his live show lacked the layers he built into his tracks. I’d advise Mr. Suelo to get a band and fill out that sound, because the foundation is obviously there when you listen to his recordings. Unfortunately, the crowd at the Aggie never really gave him a chance.
The second opener was Austin Texas’s Whiskey Shivers. This band rips and they are obviously ready to play to a much larger audience.They met via an enthusiastic Craigslist Ad over nine years ago and they have been grinding it out ever since. Two things are certain this band is having fun on stage and they continue to build a following wherever they go. This self-described “trashgrass” band is high energy, foot-stomping music that forces the viewer to dance. They treated attendees to a batch of originals including the rowdy “Fuck You” written as an addendum to an unfortunate breakup. “Long Gone” was another burner before they closed with a bubbly version of The Cure’s “Friday I’m In Love.” Whiskey Shivers is a blast of hillbilly heaven, check them out and you know… maybe someone should try to book these guys at Summer Camp… just saying.
Finally, it was time for the main event. The sold out crowd pressed into the stage leaving little room for latecomers. The apron was dressed with huge vintage style tungsten bulbs which illuminated the band as they appeared with their instruments. The Dead South has been performing together since 2012 and they have released 3 albums to date. Their dress was that of an old west pioneer complete with wide brimmed hats and a bolo tie. Their songs had dark themes and bright tones, such as the ill-fate prisoner’s lament “Dead Man’s Isle” and the murder ballad “Miss Mary.” They treated us to a few new songs as well including “Snake Man.” Other highlights from the show included the harmonies on “The Good Lord” and the speed-grass tune “Long Gone.” Nate Hilts’ signature rasp was on point throughout the performance. They waited until late in the set to play their fan favorite “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company.” The show wrapped up nicely with Colton Crawford absolutely killing it on “Banjo Odyssey” and a beautiful version of “Deep When the River’s High.”
This was just an enjoyable night of music all around. It’s nice to catch one band on their rise let alone two. Whiskey Shivers is bound for glory and The Dead South has an appeal that is universal. I look forward to watching both bands reach their full potential. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this exact bill playing at Red Rocks next year or two. Time will tell.
Photos by Fat Guerilla Productions all rights reserved