The Felice Brothers, Robert Ellis
Mercy Lounge; Nashville, TN
July 2, 2014
Review by Beth McAllister
I showed up to the venue just ten minutes before the show began, and it almost seemed like an awkward middle school dance. Every table against the wall was taken, and no one was hanging out in the large space in the center. The bar was my choice of location (for more reasons than just because there weren’t any tables), and I set up shop against the counter, curious to see what would happen.
Suddenly, the floodgates opened, and any hope of having a good view of The Felice Brothers or Robert Ellis were thrown out the window. It’s as if everyone carpooled, and a split second before the show kicked off, the place was packed. That’s how I knew it was going to be a performance like no other.
The crowd was chatty, and Robert Ellis had no problem pointing it out. His quiet demeanor made it difficult to hear what he may be saying, but his singing was unmatched in terms of power.
Given that Robert Ellis was the only person on stage save for one other guitarist, he did an amazing job of capturing the attention of everyone present. He’s the kind of person who doesn’t say much, but, when he does, it’s meaningful and necessary. He got the crowd pumped with some folky, upbeat tunes to raucous cheering as more drinks were passed around and the crowd grew.
During the interlude right before The Felice Brothers, I struck up a conversation with a man who was new to Nashville, and had decided to just pop in on a show to see what the music scene was like. After a long conversation about music, we agreed he’d chosen a good night just as the headliners took the stage.
There was no announcement that The Felice Brothers were about to begin, but the atmosphere literally took on a different feeling. The excited chatter died away and heads began to turn. No introduction was needed; the five piece band simply launched into their performance. It was a group of some of the most laid back guys I’d ever seen; t-shirts and tank tops were apparently the dress code, and they came out guns blazing.
The easygoing, Bob Dylan-style vocals were the perfect contrast to the energetic music. Who knew, by the way, that a fiddle could be so damn cool? This band jammed out like it was an all-night rock fest, and, yet, they played folk music worthy enough to swing dance to.
The concertgoers were in love with The Felice Brothers, which was easy to tell given that the place was completely packed on a Wednesday night. The group brought out a fan base made up of all walks of life: cowboy hats, ripped jeans, dresses, dyed hair, facial piercings, young, old – you name it. This was, for sure, the party that if you didn’t go to, you were sure to miss out.
Getting a great view of the folk rock band was nearly impossible, and shifting to the front was hardly an option – I’m pretty sure I would’ve been punched had I tried to take someone else’s spot. That’s how magnetic, energetic, and exciting The Felice Brothers are. The quintet’s energy is boundless, and it spilled into the crowd with amazing rapidity. A good chunk of the crowd was dancing, including a rather burly guy with a grizzly man beard. At this show, all bets were off and every single person who was present was a genuine fan of the music they were hearing.
If you’re looking to get your fix of the folk rock band before they next blow into your town, pick up a copy of their latest album. Favorite Waitress is the group’s 5th album (and the only one, interestingly enough, to be recorded in a studio). Your instructions are as follows: listen obsessively to this album until you know every single word. Attend the next closest show to your location that The Felice Brothers are playing. Rock your face off.