“In Europe, they’re called the heirs of rhythm and blues. In America, they are the new protocol of soul. Get your hands together for Vintage Trouble!”
…and another Vintage Trouble performance begins. There are always certain things one can expect at one of their shows. First, the recorded introductory announcement and then the manner in which they board the stage – through the crowd. It’s as if to say, we are one with you, and we’re doing this thing together. Before even a note was played, the audience was already thick with cheers. And then came the ritualistic brothers-in-arms huddle, where the four boys exchanged a silent prayer, a round of handshakes and a final fist bump before they locked themselves into the high-charged musical journey we would all take together. Guitarist, Nalle Colt, bassist, Rick Barrio Dill, and drummer, Richard Danielson were dressed in their trademark, 19th century steampunk outfits with their frontman, Ty Taylor, clad in a 30’s style, classic double-breasted suit, complete with a colourful ascot to complete the look.
Mavericks was alive with a crowd whose hearts would be won over by the end of this warm Wednesday September night. I felt like I’d been transported to a cozy best-kept-secret New York style rock ‘n roll club. The scene was standing room only, but with a well-seen elevated stage, and outfitted with great acoustics.
Since the band’s formation in 2010, Vintage Trouble have been on a non-stop ride of quickly growing popularity on a global scale. After playing the LA club circuit for a short time, they gained a rapid surge of followers which they have dubbed their ‘Troublemakers’. There is, of course, a Facebook fan page, and even a section of their webpage is devoted to them, where fans can submit their band videos playing various VT covers. It was due to their Troublemakers that they soon caught the attention of renowned band manager, Doc McGhee (Kiss, Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe), who soon took them under his roster of successful bands.
Initially, McGhee whisked the lads away to the UK to begin their career and establish a following there before reintroducing them back into North America. This proved to be very successful and the band has since enjoyed an array of performances beginning with their 2011 appearance on the Jools Holland Later Show, followed by David Letterman, Jay Leno, Craig Ferguson, and Conan O’Brien.
Their touring schedule has been relentless, having played to crowds throughout the US, Canada, UK, Europe, and Japan. They have opened for The Who, Heart, Bon Jovi, The Cranberries, Joss Stone and Brian May, among others. Their debut effort, The Bomb Shelter Sessions (2011), was spun out of a series of demos that were later mixed and released in an album’s worth of material. Their latest release, The Swing House Acoustic Sessions (2014) is a 5-song EP featuring acoustic recordings, 2 of which are reworked tracks from their first album. Tonight, they would play a selection of songs from both.
Vintage Trouble would entertain the crowd with their energetic mix of blues, rhythm & blues, rock ‘n roll and a whole lotta soul. Their songs were full of texture, constantly changing rhythms, and often built into feverish, heart-pounding crescendos.
Ty Taylor, the band’s larger-than-life front man, was constantly moving and spinning across the stage, and often whipped his mic cord high into the air. His vocals exhibited a truly amazing ability of control, with flavours of Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, and James Brown. His passion was engaging to watch, along with the rest of the band, who lent their physical display of enthusiasm along with their über talented playing skills. Yahoo! Music is quoted in saying “…imagine James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin and you’ll get an idea of Vintage Trouble’s muscular, in the pocket sound.”
Early in the show, we were introduced to “Nancy Lee”, a song laced with sultry R&B set to an infectious and edgy cha-cha beat, which immediately set the crowd into dance motion. Taylor egged on the audience with the sexually-charged “Low Down Dirty Dog”, and the frantic pace of “Pelvis Pusher” which featured the first of Colt’s heavy guitar riffing and Taylor’s power packed vocals. It was amazing to witness the give-and-take between performer and audience which grew as the evening wore on.
Taylor took a break to tell the audience a little about the Swing House recordings. The songs were created from acoustic jam sessions while on their tour bus. They each learned that there is beauty in simplicity with new discoveries made in just listening to one another. All came to sit at the front of the stage, acoustic instruments in hand, and just a snare drum. They gave a very bare-boned performance of some of their material from their current EP, and I found it delivered a wonderfully natural essence of each of their playing and singing abilities.
Other highlights included the vibrant, “Run Like The River”, inducing a swell of rhythmic handclapping, and one of Taylor’s signature exits off the stage, through the audience, and onto an alternate elevated platform, which in this case, was the bar. People followed his every move, as he returned to the stage and led the submissive crowd in a series of chants, raised hands high in the air, drops to the ground and up again, while the drone of the chant continued. It was incredible to watch.
Another thrilling moment for me was the band’s delivery of “Run Outta You”, a piece that has quickly worked its way under my skin to become my favourite of theirs. This one oozed with Taylor’s searingly soulful vocals in some smouldering rhythm and blues, completed with a slow and sexy guitar solo. The song heated up into an all out Deep Purple flavoured heaviness with instruments going full tilt.
During the encore, “Nobody Told Me” had everyone moving to its swaying rhythm. I especially loved the twist in the song’s bridge which was brought down into some half-timed classic rock goodness. Again, Taylor wove his gospel magic over the crowd with a series of ’amens’. By the time the band delved into the face-paced, “Total Strangers”, he and the audience were on fire. The two became a single living, breathing entity that at times left me trying to decide who was leading and who was following.
I had witnessed another Vintage Trouble process taken to its final stage with the lads exiting the stage as they had boarded – through the crowd. Later, I asked Ty how he keeps up that super-power energy level of his night after night, with each performance looking just as fresh and new as the last one. He laughed and responded, “That’s just who I am…a ball of energy, right from the time I get up in the morning. I drive my family nuts. They say, “Ty, take it easy will ya, I haven’t had my morning coffee yet!” I tell them I AM your morning coffee!”
The crowd varied in age from those in their twenties straight on through to their sixties. Another successful crop of Troublemakers had just been added to the fold with many more to follow – one show, one venue, and one city at a time, all across the globe.