For me this was a show of mixed emotions. As Susto kicked off their nationwide summer tour in support they started by playing three South Carolina dates including a kickoff show in Charleston at The Royal American, then onto Columbia, before finishing out at the Radio Room in Greenville. Each show included the same three bands, with a show in each of the bands respective home towns.
The big shocker of the day was when The Sea Wolf Mutiny hinted via Facebook that this would be one of their last shows. The band seemed to have stalled out over the last year as the follow-up to their debut album The Last Season never seem to come. In hindsight the band had a great run and earned the respect of music lovers and critics alike. Their live show evolved over the years into a spectacle of raw energy and emotion as lead singer and pianist Bobby Hatfield learned to control a crowd. The addition of Michael Crawford on drums and Phil Windsor on guitar mid-way through the bands all too short existence seemed to free Hatfield up to focus on mesmerizing the audience. At this show there was no sense of mourning, just a typically good Sea Wolf Mutiny performance. The band played through their signature songs and unrecorded gems with sweaty energy, deep down knowing it would be one of their last performances, but none of them wore it on their sleeve.
The previous night at The Royal American in Charleston, Susto kicked off the tour with a full band performance that ended up being a warm up for the two dates they joined fellow Charleston band Band of Horses on tour. For the rest of the dates lead singer and songwriter Justin Osborne would be playing solo as he did this night at New Brookland Tavern. Since disbanding his former project Sequoyah Prep School, Osborne’s turned his focus and songwriting to Susto, churning out demo after demo of songs that seemed to get better and better. Those demos finally turned into Susto’s debut self titled album that seems to be the album he’s been writing his entire life. The lyrics flow from every aspect of his being, starting off with his youth in the opening track “Black River Gospel” and flowing through his life from there. While the full band concerts show off the intricacy of the album, the solo shows display the man behind the words. As was the case at this date, Osborne churned through songs on the new album, including some old Sequoyah Prep School songs along with them much to the delight of fans carried over from that era.
Speaking of the Sequoyah Prep School days, Osborne brought along former Magnolia Sons frontman Billy Ferguson to open the show. Magnolia Sons were no stranger to New Brookland Tavern, having visited the dive several times with SPS. Although the crowd wasn’t what it once was, Ferguson seemed comfortable visiting old songs, just him and his commanding voice and acoustic guitar.
Grey Spy was one of my highlights of the night. I’ve been a fan of all of front-man Shaun William’s projects over the years, from Archer vs. Gunman to solo releases, but Grey Spy is my favorite. His songwriting style and guitar playing hold the keys to my R.E.M. loving heart. It was a tough night crowd wise, but William’s and crew focused their energy on the positive, like taking shots with me and playing through their latest EP The Brightest Summer Days. Grey Spy brought all of my 90’s movie soundtrack nostalgia back by closing with “The Concept” by Teenage Fanclub. After their set it was on to Jameson shots, and then the night went happily blurry.