We’re always happy to give space to up-and-coming artists, so we were thrilled to host the ACL debut of Vintage Trouble. The L.A. quartet has honed its fiery live show on tours with the Who and AC/DC, and the band brought the full measure of its live prowess to its high-energy rock/soul, winning over not only our studio crowd, but also the online contingent of Troublemakers from all over the world who watched their heroes via our livestream.
Following handshakes all around, the socially-conscious ballad “Not Alright By,” from the debut The Bomb Shelter Sessions, gently began the show. Then VT went straight into the blazing “Blues Hand Me Down,” impeccably dressed singer Ty Taylor engaging in his trademark spin before commanding the microphone and exhorting the crowd to dance and scream. The band shifted to the 70s-soul styled “Doin’ What You Were Doin’,” losing no momentum and engaging the audience to help sing one of the highlights from their latest album 1 Hopeful Rd. The come-on “Total Strangers” jumped into James Brown territory, aided by an infectious “na-na” chorus, a rocking guitar riff courtesy axeslinger Nalle Colt and plenty of audience participation. The fans also sang part of “Another Man’s Words,” a beautiful ballad also from the new record. The band then dipped back into its past with “Nancy Lee,” Bomb’s bluesy tale of Taylor’s father meeting his mother. The blues was also at the heart of “Angel City, California,” as filtered through the classic rock & roll stylings of forebears like the Faces and featuring one of Taylor’s most skillful performances.
Everything up to then, however, was just a warm-up for “Run Like the River.” Rolling all of VT’s soul, rock, blues and gospel influences into one monster anthem, the band revved up both themselves and the crowd, who got a visit from Taylor on both the floor and the balcony. After that extended expression of joy, for which VT was rewarded with a roar, Taylor and company mellowed the mood with the easygoing “Nobody Told Me” – at least until the end, when gospel call-and-response came to the fore and Taylor moved himself to tears. The band then indulged in some juke joint blues, deliberately invoking the 50s for the hip-shaking, frontman-spinning “Before the Tear Drops.”
Taylor took time out to thank both the ACL staff and the crowd, demanding big cheers for both. Then it was into another steaming slice of James Brown-style R&B with the shimmying “Strike Your Light,” which, of course, required some serious audience participation (and another visit from Taylor). After that, the band could do little else but bring us back down to earth via the soul ballad “Run Outta You,” Taylor letting his passion spill and Colt punctuating it with an elegiac extended solo, after which he tossed his axe away as if it was pointless to continue and left through the audience. The rest of the band kept going, Taylor coaxing yet more call-and-response from the crowd, before first bassist Rick Barrio Dill and then Taylor wormed through the people, leaving drummer Richard Danielson to finish the song alone. And that was the end, even though by the sound of the audience’s cheers they didn’t want Vintage Trouble to go. It was an amazing show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts next spring as part of our Season 41 on your local PBS station.