After a brief disappearance, Neighbor Lady returned – the band members following one another practically in single file to their places on stage. It was time for the encore.
Lead singer Emily Braden said the band had to “dust off” the song they were about to perform and they would try to remember the lyrics. Seconds later, the opening chords of The Cranberries’ “Dreams” flowed from the stage to the center of the room. The energy and happiness of the band as they performed was infectious.
Last night, Neighbor Lady performed at the Georgia Theater as part of a series of new album shows promoting ‘For The Birds’, which was released on July 1. The show had three openings: Spencer Thomas, Cowboy Curtys and Lightweight. Each group brought their own distinct sound, and the performances varied almost as much as the crowd.
The attendees at last night’s show were a mixed bag. Younger fans wore everything from flowy skirts to ripped fishnets. Older members of the crowd wore more conservative outfits like button-up shirts and jeans and sipped beers throughout the night. There were also plenty of heeled boots and wedges, as if the crowd had come eager to hear the country-sounding twang of Neighbor Lady and the band’s openers.
Spencer Thomas began warming up just before 8:30 p.m. as concertgoers were still pouring into the venue. Many attendees headed straight for the roof of the venue upon arrival – the album’s release show was originally scheduled to take place on the roof of the Georgia Theater but was moved indoors due to weather issues. Thomas’ passionate voice echoed off the brick walls of the venue’s stairwell, where concert-goers passed freely during the first sets of the night.
Despite the chatter and hiss of pop tabs in the background of his set, a handful of earlycomers stood devotedly in front of the stage, watching Thomas switch effortlessly between piano and guitar. His music included elements of folk, country, and Americana, and he performed his songs including “Hangin’ Tough” and “Traveling Angel”.
After Thomas, Cowboy Curtys took the stage. Describing themselves as a “southern garage-pysch outfit” on their Spotify page, Cowboy Curtys brought a little more life to the room. The band had an electric bite that contrasted sharply with Thomas’ set. The four-piece outfit wore white crew-neck t-shirts and baseball caps. Several admirers in the audience seemed to emulate the style of the group, imitating these simple outfits.
Between songs, Cowboy Curtys lead singer and LaGrange, Georgia native Josh Parsons sipped a Miller Lite and addressed the audience, at one point saying that all of their songs were about Athens, then joking that ‘they were about Kirby Smart, throwing in a quick “Go Dawgs” before the start of his next song.
A song from the Cowboy Curtys set was their new single “Nantahala”. The group has a new album, “Commotions”, which will be released in August.
Then there was Lighthearted – an alternative band that formed in 2019. The band’s vocalists Gracie Huffman and Eliza Lemmon, who are twin sisters, drew a growing crowd with lush harmonies and sweet melodies and simple.
The band, which has a sound reminiscent of First Aid Kit, played songs like “Honey Honey” and their new single “Wild Woods.” The music video for the latter was released on June 22.
The band had a mostly bright acoustic sound, with a few darker songs thrown into the set. The singers had a brief hiccup during one song, but some cheers from the audience persuaded the band to brush off the slight error.
After the light-hearted finish of their performance, concert-goers quickly rushed to the bathroom or for another drink. The lights went out and it was time for what the attendees were all waiting for. The crowd seemed to peak as spectators found their seats for the headliner.
Neighbor Lady settled into their positions on stage while “For the birds», the short instrumental introduction of the new album, played on the loudspeakers. The group was greeted with enthusiastic cheers and applause, but the audience fell silent once vocalist Braden began singing. She said after the song was one of the first times she wanted an audience to be quiet for a song and they complied, thanking the crowd for their attention.
The band moved throughout their set with energy and enthusiasm. The setlist incorporated songs from the new album such as “Sister” and “Penny Pick It Up”, while also including familiar favorites like “Let It Bleed”. The band includes Jack Blauvelt on guitar, Payton Collier on bass and Andrew McFarland on drums. The band formed in Athens, which Braden commented on during the set.
“We started here in Athens, Georgia, that’s why it’s so magical to be here and play here and do things,” she said.
Jordan Reynolds, also known as Rose Hotel, accompanies Neighbor Lady on her album release show tour, playing keyboard and tambourine while singing backup vocals. Avery Draut, lead singer of Night Palace, also joined the headliner for a few songs, including “Feel It All the Time” – a piano ballad with hauntingly beautiful vocals.
As lighthearted, Neighbor Lady also got a slight hiccup when Braden forgot the lyrics to a song on set and Reynolds briefly took over lead vocals. Braden was unfazed by the small accident, maintaining the same smile she had worn all night.
Throughout their set, Neighbor Lady captivated the crowd. Some audience members slipped between songs, with others heading for the doors after the band’s supposed final number. However, it wasn’t long before the band returned for their encore.
Draut joined the group for his encore performance, assisting Braden and Reynolds with the signature “Dreams” vocals. While the trio weren’t able to replicate Dolores O’Riordan’s sound perfectly, they did create a great cover — and perhaps more importantly, they seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it.
The band’s joy was palpable in their final seconds on stage, with Braden, Reynolds and Draut performing with the playfulness and spontaneity of a group of friends who had gone out to karaoke. The other audience members danced freely under a rainbow of light. The final song ended just before midnight. Neighbor Lady thanked the crowd one last time and members of the public took to Lumpkin Street.