Concert review:Trampled by Turtles at ROMT

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WHO: Trampled by Turtles
WHEN: Wednesday, May 27, 2015
WHERE: Royal Oak Music Theater, Royal Oak


If there was any folk concert where a mosh pit would be appropriate, Trampled by Turtles would have been the one. On March 27th, the Royal Oak Music Theater buzzed with anticipation. Audience members were seen switching their clothes in favor of their recent merchandise purchase to let the band know that Detroit is not in the dark when it comes to the folk scene.

The opener, John Mark Nelson, walked on the stage with his band and while he tried to maintain his chill singer-songwriter persona, you could tell that Detroit was a new territory for him. While he may be a newcomer in the area, the cheers from the crowd did not make him a stranger. As Nelson and his band played their set, you were transported to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where Nelson hails from. The pure excitement and joy on the musicians’ faces translated to positive energy from the crowd. They made the stage their own for the short time they had it.

Combining staccato acoustic picking with heavy electric chords created an wall of sound that hit the audience like a wave. Halfway through their set, much like Bob Dylan in 1965, Nelson sat down the acoustic and picked up an electric guitar. Thankfully this action was received more positively than Dylan’s was. For only being 21, Nelson’s songwriting and composition skills are that of a seasoned folkie. If this concert is a vision for the future, Nelson will be more popular in the coming years.

Between the opener and Trampled by Turtles, the Music Theater turned the lights on the audience. After uniting over Nelson, the crowd could finally see each other and the anticipation for Trampled by Turtles grew exponentially. Then the lights went out.

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As the band took the stage, Dave Simonett, the lead singer and guitarist, was illuminated by a single spotlight. Simonett donned a white Stetson cowboy hat and sang with such passion and emotion that the crowd was moved by the vocals alone. Then when the rest on the band joined in and the number of spotlights gradually increased in number, the crowd’s admiration spiked. Their first song was very slow and dramatic, and for new listeners in the audience, they did not expect what was coming next. Their second song was so fast and full of energy that couples couldn’t help but dance. I am surprised that the musicians’ hands didn’t fall off.

The fact that Simonett did not say much in between each song made it feel like you were in your room listening to their album. After the first few notes, the crowd would recognize the song and immediately sing along with Simonett to a point where the crowd overpowered the vocals. The highlight of the evening was actually included in every song. Ryan Young, the violin player, is blessed with the gift of soloing. I am convinced that he is the subject of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”. His hunched over position made us pour over every note of his agile and quick fiddle solos. As the band left the stage and the crowd left the theater, the feeling of love and folk music lingered above the stage for longer than expected.

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