Prior to this show, the only song of Delta Rae
's that I'd heard was the soulfully evocative anthem, "Bottom Of The River." It's a fantastic track, but decidedly sparse, and therefore not indicative of the intricacy and depth of the rest of their music. The point being that I didn't know what to expect, and was absolutely blown away when they hit the stage.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. After downing a $12.00 toddler's size Red Bull vodka -- this venue is run by extortionists -- I shouldered my way through the extremely diverse crowd of yuppies, plain Janes, teeny boppers and elder statesmen toward the photo pit. And I soon learned the reason for that diversity; Delta Rae's music is intense, but at its core, it's also riotously fun and approachable for pretty much anyone.
The stage now set with illuminated trees and looking like the Louisiana bayou on a mid-summer's night, the explosive six-piece hit the stage like a supernova of southern goodness. The band's female vocalists led the charge; Brittany Hölljes whipped her shaker around like it owed her money and Elizabeth Hopkins shook the shit out her tambourine. Their intense energy played like an effusive welcome to the audience, thanking us for coming out and promising us a good show.
After the uproariously driving "Bethlehem Steel" and an inspiring a cappella performance of "Any Better Than This" it had become clear that this was going to be a highly varied set. The band members are constantly switching instruments, moving from guitars to ridiculous pieces of percussion like the giant moniker-bearing concert bass drum in the center of the stage and the garbage can/chain contraption off on stage right. Christ, that chain; it's drummer Mike McKee's design and has become an incredible signature of the Delta Rae sound.
The highlight of the show was undoubtedly the religiously electric performance of "I Will Never Die." Brittany Hölljes is strikingly beautiful, and her intensity during this song was terrifying in all the right ways. As if to exorcise the malignant demon crowd, she grabbed a massive shaman's staff and struck the floor to the beat exclaiming, "In the dead of night!" I considered running to the exit lest being ensnared by her siren stare, but I still had more show to cover.
They belted out a Lion King Simba-cliff-scene-esque performance of "After It All" before closing with, you guessed it, "Bottom Of The River." I felt extremely satisfied, and a bit lucky to have seen these guys live. Their harmonies are off the chain, and the theatrical element of their show is ridiculously entertaining. PLEASE check them out if they're playing in your area, you'll be happy that you did.
Enjoy the images from the show, and pick up your copy of Delta Rae's latest album, After It All, here