Show Review: SafetySuit at The Newport Music Hall

Of all the shows that I’ve attended, one thing that always stands out to me is how dependent musicians are on the loyalty of their fans. You can tell a lot about a band just by looking at it’s fan-base and their connection during a performance. I think a lot of musicians will agree that it takes a lot more than just creating music to leave an imprint in the industry. No matter what kind of fancy lighting the band brings to the stage, how great the vocals are or how catchy the lyrics are, if the band can’t make the crowd feel like it’s a part of the show, chances are it’s going to be a dull night. Creating music is one thing, gaining and keeping a loyal fan-base is another.

This is where Nashville’s pop-rock outfit SafetySuit have excelled throughout their careers and I was given the chance to experience this firsthand at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio. Within a few minutes of entering the venue, a few things instantly stood out about the band. As I reached the front of the crowd, one of the security guards warned me that the photo pit was extremely small (literally just enough room to wiggle side to side). The band had requested this so that they could be closer to the crowd. Minutes later a woman approached me with a red cut-out paper heart and told me to hold it up during the band’s second song “This City” in celebration of Valentine’s Day. She then continued to hand them out to everyone in the crowd as we all waited for the show to kick off.

All photos taken by Lynn Crochet

Opening up the even was Royal Teeth, an American Indie-pop quartet based out of Louisiana. I’d never heard of the band previous to the show, but their unique sound and energy is one that has definitely stuck with me. Royal Teeth is the type of band that can hype up the entire crowd with raw attacks on the percussion from Josh Hefner and then calm everyone within a few seconds of harmonious cooing from vocalists Gary Larsen and Nora Patterson. Frontwoman Nora mesmerized the crowd with her soft yet oddly strong angelic vocals. Co-frontman Gary demonstrated his smooth and touching lyrics while showing off his multi-tasking skills. The entire set he switched between bouncing around with his guitar with Thomas Onebane to occasionally pounding forcefully on his drum next to Josh. During the last song, Gary picked up his drum and jumped into the crowd, pounding along and dancing with the crowd. By the end of the set, the crowd was more than hyped up for the next performance.

All photos taken by Lynn Crochet

As mentioned before, when it comes to bands with a loyal fanbase, SafetySuit personally jumps to the top of the list. As soon as the four guys took the stage with their opening song “You,” there was an immediate rush of energy from both the band and the crowd. Frontman Douglas Brown didn’t hesitate to interact with the audience, reaching out to screaming fans and singing to them directly. He continued to bounce and groove around the stage with the rest of the members as the entire room sang along to the chorus. The band followed with “This City” where the crowd raised their paper hearts. Impressed by the fan’s efforts, Doug took one of the hearts and showed it to the rest of the band members while continuing on with the song, handing it over to Tate Cunningham who displayed it in front of his drum-set.

Not a single step or beat was missed the entire night. I don’t think there was one moment when lead guitarist Dave Garofalo was standing still, spinning and twirling all while shredding throughout the entire set. Both Dave and Jeremy Henshaw contributed in vocals during the chorus’s that complemented Doug’s incredible range without overpowering him. All the while they were switching spots on stage, still without missing a beat. The majority of the instrumental transitions were driven by Tate on the drums, constantly fueling the high energy to the crowd. Doug alone has a stage presence that can draw anyone in. With each lyric and harmonious tone, he portrayed the emotion perfectly. In songs like “Let Go” and “Hallelujah” he danced and moved with passion and an air of calming self-confidence.

All photos taken by Lynn Crochet

During the cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” Doug gesticulated passionately along with the lyrics, running to the back of the stage and jumping with a kick that lead to the instrumental break while Dave took over for a solo on the electric guitar. Doug returned to face the crowd, punching along to the beat. The band then began to contribute an instrumental rush to the melody as Doug kneeled over singing “Hallelujah” in pitch perfect tones.

All photos taken by Lynn Crochet

SafetySuit went above and beyond to make the audience the main focus of the show. During numerous songs, Doug reached out to retrieve cell phones from the fans for video recordings. He carried a few of the phones to the stage and recorded short videos of the members, occasionally leaning over for a selfie with the fans. The band performed 16 songs and followed with an encore of 5 songs. Close to the end of the set, Jeremy and Tate left the stage as Doug and Dave sat down at the edge to perform the acoustic version of the crowd pleaser, “Never Stop.” Doug talked with the audience about the inspiration behind the song and noted the difference between infatuation and choosing to love someone. Once the two broke out in song, the audience began singing along to every word before Doug could even reach the chorus. Jeremy and Tate then returned to follow with “Stay” as Doug called out to the audience “Get your cameras ready,” and jumped over the barriers and began to walk through the enclosing crowd, singing and taking selfies with every fan that he possibly could.

Watching the guys of SafetySuit genuinely enjoy themselves on stage and sharing every moment with the audience, it’s very apparent that the band appreciates their fans just as much as the fans appreciate them. It’s no wonder why these guys have such a loyal and rising fan-base. For anyone who hasn’t experienced SafetySuit yet, I strongly encourage that you do so. This is one live experience you don’t want to miss out on.

For a chance to hear SafetySuit, you can purchase their music on iTunes, Amazon or Spotify.
You can stay up to date with the band by following them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Be sure to check out their website to see if the band is coming to a city near you!

What Are Your Thoughts!

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