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Live Reviews: Drayton Farley and The Regrettes

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Drayton Farley at Reverb Lounge, August 1st

I got Drayton Farley’s new album Twenty On High earlier this year and really liked it. I picked it up because Jason Isbell’s guitarist, Sadler Vaden, produced it. Let’s just say the comparisons to Isbell do not stop with his guitar player producing his record. Either way, the songs are very strong, and so I decided to check out his show at Reverb Lounge. I knew he had other albums out but didn’t realize that his last album got him a little cult following. So there were a decent amount of people at the show, and they wanted to hear some songs that I had never heard of. They wanted a song called “Blue Collar ”, “American Dream (Hard Up)” and “Pitchin Fits.” I just figured it would be a tiny crowd, and the focus would be on the new album. This was better, though, as there was more energy in the room, and people’s excitement for those songs got me excited to hear them. First of all, if you are a fan of Omaha music and know Brad Hoshaw, this guy gives off some Hoshaw vibes in the looks department. So, the whole night, I have been hearing a Jason Isbell voice come out of Brad Hoshaw. Anyway, he delivers live vocally and comes off very appreciative on stage. It’s his first trip to Nebraska. His guitar player and bass player really stand out. I am told the bass player is Alex Lyon, plays with Whitey Morgan, and that the drummer used to play with Morgan also back when. Good band. 

We didn’t get a lot of stories, or a ton of engagement, but we did get a good chunk of new songs from the current album, including “Norfolk Blues” and “Something Wrong (Inside My Head), and his longtime fans got all three of their songs also. There is a raw charm to those songs, and I understand why they resonate so strongly with his fans. It was a nice evening out, and he put on a good performance filled with strong songs. I look forward to seeing him develop over the years.

The Regrettes at Slowdown on August 3rd

Before the band took the stage, a couple of old dudes started getting a lot of attention. It was Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald from Kids In The Hall. They were to perform the following evening as part of Omaha Comedy Fest. They would end up watching the whole set of the band, and I glanced over at them a couple times, and they were really enjoying what was happening. The rest of us did too. The five-piece band came out and performed high-energy pop song after high-energy pop song. While they all played instruments, there were a lot of backing tracks in the music—not that they tried to hide that, nor should they. The type of pop music they are playing lends itself toward that. Their last album, Further Joy, is a favorite of mine; it’s sugary-sweet pop music that really should be played on bigger stages. I think they should have gotten some of those Taylor Swift opening slots, though some of those songs have hooks that might compete with Taylor both in style and quality. They have been touring on that album for a year, and this night would be their last club show of the year. They were on their way to play the Hinterland Festival in Des Moines, and I think that is it for them.

While the band members all play their roles, the focus is on front person Lydia Night. Night is a charismatic front person who worked the audience all night long and never let up. They packed about 15 songs, mostly from the last two albums and a Robyn cover, into a little over an hour and encouraged the audience to shake their asses, crouch down, jump up, and turn it up to ten the entire time. I got exhausted watching everyone from my old person’s spot in the back corner. The show wasn’t anything mind-blowing musically; it was just a fun pop show, which is what we all went for. I am honestly surprised this album didn’t catapult them further, and after seeing them live, it is even more perplexing. This group has the potential to be a pretty big act.

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