Good times roll at The Southern

The Vegabonds perform with funk, style


The Vegabonds rocked The Southern last weekend.

The Vegabonds began preparing the stage for their set at about 11 p.m. last Friday. Most of the crowd had dispersed by that point — having only come for the local Will Overman Band. Yet, the band’s true fans — an eclectic crowd of college students, young adults and couples — stuck around with the effects of a long Friday night of partying having set in. These fans were in it for the long haul, and there’s no better band than The Vegabonds to close out the night.

The Vegabonds are a five-man group from Nashville, Tenn. that — in the words of lead singer Daniel Allen — “always wanna have a good time” and “lighten the mood of the day.” The band’s influences vary from rock group Kings of Leon to country artists Sturgill Simpson and Chris Stapleton to singer-songwriters like Jason Isbell — incorporating elements of southern rock, funk and rocking jams into their music.

“I hope people listen, but I understand that’s not always the case,” Allen said. “But I mean, the lyrics are a message of hope. It’s real life stuff, but the music lends itself more to more of a good time party-type stuff. So it’s a cool mixture when you have a lot of truth and a lot of good times behind it.”

Friday’s show at The Southern was nothing short of a good time. The band opened with an explosive, inspiring performance of “Where We Used To Go,” which included a funky piano riff and pleasing instrumental melodies. The band incorporated many different musical elements into their live performance. These included intense electric guitar solos by guitarist Richard Forehand, pounding bass sections from Paul Bruens and tantalizing riffs and patterns from Beau Cooper on the keys. Each band member got a chance to perform something individually in each song, yet the group stayed tight and consistent, working together to create an atmosphere of happy times and perpetual foot-stomping.

The Vegabonds incorporated some southern rock into the show with songs like “Cruise On,” which included more improvised jamming and lots of thrashing. Similarly, in songs like “American Eyes,” Forehand brought out the dobro to incorporate more country elements.

Lyrically, the band’s songs used simple repetition to provide catchy choruses and pleasing messages. During the performance of their newest single, “Oh My Lord,” the crowd jumped in and sang with the band, repeating the chorus with ease and happiness. The group is invested in its fans, smiling and laughing with them as they all collectively jammed together. It was an atmosphere of camaraderie that is not seen enough in local venues.

To close out the night, the group played some covers of country artists such as Charlie Daniels and the Allman Brothers and ended with an encore performance of The Band’s “Atlantic City.” The latter portion of the setlist really allowed the band to bring out their southern rock and country influence, ending with covers that eventually led to 10-minute songs full of rhythm and style that never seemed to end.

The show was one for dancing, swaying and head bopping. By the time of the encore, only true fans were left, singing “Atlantic City” with the band and reveling in the personal closeness that the group provided to their followers.

The Vegabonds brought rock, funk and personality to The Southern. Leaving the venue, fans had a sense of personal satisfaction and fulfillment emulating as they all smiled and stumbled home, still drunk on the pounding southern rock beats of the Nashville group.

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