Show Reviews

Show Review: Shovels & Rope

If you are from South Carolina and have no idea who Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are, slap yourself in the face so hard.

I have an excuse because I am not from the south, but these two artists are Charleston natives and they are probably the most talented South Carolina band I’ve ever seen live since I’ve been here. If you don’t know these two, they’re a wonderful married couple who have released countless solo albums but then they were like “hey, it’d be pretty cool, and cheaper, if we toured together”. So that’s what they did. Last night, they brought their brilliant live show to New Brookland Tavern in Columbia and they destroyed it. I got there in time to catch the opener John Wesley Satterfield and he was pretty fantastic. He had a great voice and had a guy on the electric mandolin who killed it with solos every song.

Shovels & Rope came to the stage with a screaming, adoring crowd calling for them. Their stage set up was modest, but perfect. They had half a drumset and three guitars (two acoustic, one electric). It started out with Cary Ann Hearst on the acoustic and Michael Trent on the drums/electric, but the amazing thing was that throughout their set they both played everything, switching back and forth very smoothly. Their chemistry throughout the set was wonderful, you could tell that they deeply cared for each other and that they both loved what they were doing. The energy and passion they put into all the songs was highly impressive. It seemed raw and special, unlike many bands who have highly rehearsed shows that are always exactly the same. They interacted with the crowd, especially when a young, drunk girl started laying on the stage, then proceeding to do ballet moves behind the band.

I do not really know too many of their songs as I only have Michael Trent’s The Winner but the whole set was just incredible. The crowd knew most of the songs except for the new ones obviously. My favorites were Tell The Truth and The Winner from Trent’s album, but Boxcar and their new single O’ Be Joyful were incredible as well. The band are touring all around the US (and Canada!) over the next few months, playing a whole number of shows at SXSW. Hopefully SceneSC can catch them while they’re playing in Texas, because I’m sure, if the right people see their set, they could hit it big at this festival. But we’ll see, time will tell. I could see this duo getting pretty big, especially since the US is pretty into alternative-americana music right now (The Avett Brothers, The Civil Wars, etc.). But if you get a chance to see these guys, just go. You will love it.

AND ALSO. I asked Cary Ann Hearst was her spirit animal was and she said it’s a mountain lion. I asked her what Michael’s was and she said “he is a mean-ass pony or a turtle“.

(also, apologies for the picture quality. It was a cell phone since I do not have a camera. I’ll get one soon, I promise)

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