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The Lone Bellow at John Emerald (2/18)

This past Saturday night The Lone Bellow performed in Opelika at the John Emerald Distillery. The band members led the audience through a range of emotions throughout the night from bluegrass stomp to somber, serious melodies that showcased the band members clustered together around one microphone eliciting complete silence from the audience in a manner I’ve never experienced before in seeing live music.

The stage was in the back room of the John Emerald Distillery, where the distilling equipment is stored. The opener was a young woman, Becca Mancari. She and two bandmates performed for about forty minutes. Their sound strongly falls into the indie rock category with angsty undertones. A couple of songs they played were more light hearted and personally, much more enjoyable. Their quality of musicianship was fair but I was not particularly impressed by the lyrics or sound as a whole, mainly because I’m no particularly fond of the genre as a whole.

Shortly after Becca Mancari and crew performed their last song, The Lone Bellow took the stage. The crowd let out whoops of excitement and many people clapped. The lead singer, Zach Williams, commanded the stage with a quiet grace while channeling an energy of times long forgotten. This came out in many of the lyrics and the band’s sound as a whole. They transported you to a simpler time and a simpler place. The other two constant members of the group, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist, often looked to Williams to lead the performance but both would take over from time to time and steal the spotlight. Each of the bandmate’s let the others showcase their own musical talent while cohesively culminating each of their sounds and voices to meld into a folksy, bluegrass, country rooted rock experience.

 I went from jumping up and down, dancing my heart out to songs like "Time’s Always Leaving," to songs like "You Never Need Nobody" where I was softly harmonizing with the band mates feeling like I was a member of an exclusive club. The group’s last song was one of their more popular songs, "Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold." The crowd was bouncing with the electricity of the song and the emotion of the night. When the song ended the crowd kept hooping and hollering to encourage the band to come back out to perform again. As they came back on stage they grabbed their instruments and performed an acoustic rendition of "Watch Over Us" in the middle of the floor where the audience was, everyone encircled around them. It was very intimate and only made me further like the band whom I had never seen perform before that night. Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by the group and enjoyed the way they went from upbeat, gritty songs to softly played and heartfelt melodies.

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