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Frontier Ruckus @ The Loving Touch 02/17/2024 (Concert Review by Elisabeth B.)

This past Saturday Frontier Ruckus held their release party for their new album “On The Northline.” Fittingly, almost seven years ago, they threw an album release for their prior album, Enter the Kingdom–also at the Loving Touch! I was told great things about the venue from friends before attending the show, and it lived up to the hype. The Loving Touch has a great sense of charm, and provides an intimate atmosphere along with friendly staff. It also has more seating than I am used to seeing in smaller venues. I arrived right when the doors opened, which was perfect on a cold southeastern Michigan February night. Fred Thomas came on stage right at 8PM with a welcome heaviness. Each word he sings holds immense depth and you want to listen deeply and attentively. The cadence in his lyrics sometimes sounds like spoken word poetry, which is really unique. My friend who I took with me to the show remarked how poignant his songs are–in the best way.

Following up Thomas were the vastly different yet perfectly paired Loose Koozies. They have a more rock n roll sound, and they make you want to get up and dance. On stage there was a slide guitar which added so much to the band’s performance. They are very guitar centered, with quite a few rockin’ solos throughout the set. These were the perfect opening acts for Frontier Ruckus–both acts capture different sides of the band’s style, from Thomas’s poetic lyricism to the Loose Koozies’ groovin’ rock instrumentals.

Around 9:30PM it was time for Frontier Ruckus. I saw them a couple years ago at a festival in Lansing, but shortly after getting on stage they acknowledged that they aren’t actively playing too many live shows at the moment, which immediately made the concert feel extra special. The diverse audience made the show special too–folks traveled from as far as San Francisco, Ohio, and North Carolina! The band started the show off with “Swore I Had a Friend” from their new album. Throughout, there was a good mix of new songs and old favorites. The banjo, singing saw, trumpet, and melodica are ever present and seem integral to the band’s sound. My friend remarked that the banjo (played by David Jones) tied all of the songs together. Pete Ballard–the slide guitar player from Loose Koozies–came on stage during the second song, which was a fun addition.

On stage it is obvious that this band is happy to play together, and they create a closeness with the audience by how in sync they seem with each other. Ruckus plays and moves around fluidly with each other and it makes the moment of seeing them play so spectacular. The audience was listening and soaking in every moment. The atmosphere created by the band was strong enough to keep me entranced. There were some obvious favorites played, like “Ontario”, “The Latter Days”, and “Orion 2.” From the first chord played of each of these songs I saw faces immediately light up and start singing along. Some of my favorites were played in the three song encore: “What You Are”, “Nerves of the Nightmind”, and “Dark Autumn Hour”. This concert was amazing–I left with such a nice warm feeling. It was such a great celebration for a long awaited album that is equally as incredible. I am very glad I got to be a part of it all at the Loving Touch.

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