The bill at the Casbah doesn’t get much better than it did on Friday, with headliners Dead Feather Moon putting on a near-flawless show and openers Kelly McFarling and Elijah Ford showcasing a huge amount of talent. But out of all the night’s acts, it was Trouble in the Wind‘s gut-punch of invigorating folk-rock that stole the show.
Frontman Robby Gira led Trouble in the Wind through a series of belted folk/Americana ballads while the band laid down a pleasant mix of bluegrass and surf rock. Though Gira was the center of attention with his startlingly powerful voice, driving acoustic guitar, and commendable mustache, the talent of the other three-quarters of the group can’t be understated. Kyle Merrit (electric guitar, banjo, accordion) added some necessary variation to the sound and provided much of the band’s off-color energy. His abilities with the accordion were also impressive. Trevor Mulvey and Larry Doran gave the band solid backing and kept the pulse driving throughout the set.
Aside from an undeniable ability to make their music work in the live setting, what really made Trouble in the Wind shine was Gira’s honesty and raw emotion. It was clear that he pours a lot of himself into his songs, and his refreshing humility was a sight to see.
Although starkly different from the stripped-down sound of Trouble in the Wind, Dead Feather Moon didn’t disappoint by any means. The five bearded titans of San Diego blues-rock transitioned effortlessly between thundering blues and soft falsetto melodies. They’ve mastered their craft, and the effortless, upbeat vibe they exude live is hard to match.
Their instrumentation, comprised of three guitars, a bass, and drum kit, would have been a mess if they weren’t so well practiced. It was often hard to discern the vocals through the wailing guitars, but that didn’t take away from their monstrous energy.
Dead Feather Moon played the vast majority of their 2012 album, Dark Sun, which won Best Alternative Album at that year’s San Diego Music Awards. While their live show is a lot of fun, their recorded work is a testament to front man Justin Berge’s great voice and his band’s songwriting ability. Dark Sun is definitely worth a listen, and while you’re at it, do yourself a favor and track down Trouble in the Wind before they realize how good they are and move to Austin, or Nashville, or Brooklyn, or something.