I have said it before, but sometimes there are strokes of luck when a few artists come together for a tour. You may call it a super tour by the number of killer acts in one place for one ticket that isn’t a festival. I bring that up because that is just what Frank Turner put together for his epic fifty states in fifty days tour. That is not touching on the big endeavor Frank took on to hit all fifty states in his first post 2020 U.S. tour. The constant tourmates were Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, The Bronx, and Pet Needs with an artist sliding in for segments of the tour. Our additional artist for this Van Buren stop would be the excellent Amigo the Devil.
Up first would be yet another fantastic band that Frank introduces me to through his tours, Pet Needs. This band is more your traditional punk rock sound with a wonderful energy behind it. Johnny, lead vocalist, is everywhere on that stage, and I mean, everywhere. He bounced, moved, danced, and hit the barricade too. It doesn’t stop there either.
It goes across that band rich with personality and enthusiasm while they perform. Occasionally Johnny grabbing the Pet Needs cardboard sign they made to hold up. Near the end of the set, that they appreciate us, the audience, and those are words not said enough to others. Pet Needs’ performance left me impressed and once again walking away with an album of a band I just saw for the first time by the end of the night.
Then we hit a band that being on this bill shows just how wide Frank’s love of music is, The Bronx. I say that because watching the crowd you could see enjoyment, but they were not quite sure what to do with a band that turns it up to eleven every performance. The smaller, concentrated bunch of Bronx fans crammed up front, who knew exactly what to do.
The band’s sound, if you have not read prior times that I’ve talked about them on this site, is if you took punk rock and rock ‘n roll and mashed them together. The Bronx put on a clinic any time they perform. They are in my top ten favorite live performances. Matt and the band once again delivering on that quality this night. It was a little different as this was the first time I saw them without Joey Castillo behind the kit, but who filled in did a wonderful job. They played songs from across their catalog to their most recent sixth album. He did his trademark jump into the crowd during “Knifeman” to get the circle pit moving and give the crowd a little guidance. The Bronx once again made sure no one could walk away from a set without being impressed.
After that was a musician that I went into thinking I had watched live before but turned out this was my first time watching the awesome Amigo the Devil. I am familiar with his music and had thought I’d crossed paths on a prior show over the years. Though watching that set this night, I would have remembered a set like that boldly. Amigo the Devil played solo with his acoustic guitar and occasionally rotating in banjo. With those instruments it is a dark folk music that he plays.
However, there is humor in there with them. He began with a joke saying people are probably wondering why there is just a dude with an acoustic guitar on stage right then. When he played his song “Husband” he talked about how the song was written for his best friend who told him only he could write a song wishing her husband was dead. Yet then he said her husband passed since, and he didn’t know what to do so he sent her the song again. That is just his style, dark humor to go with the dark folk music. He finished on the song “Hell and You.” Now I can say I have seen Amigo the Devil. I will not make the mistake of thinking I have anymore with a superb performance like that.
Last was the man I’ve connected with albums of music and songs, Frank Turner. Arizona marked the forty seventh state of his fifty-state tour. He started with a sole spotlight on him for the slow beginning of “Four Simple Words” then rolled into the punk rock section of the song with the Sleeping Souls joining behind him for the rest of the song. Making up for lost time, he would go on to play a good hour and a half set. It was well over twenty songs spanning his now vast folk and punk rock catalog. Later in the set he gave the band a break for a solo block that started with “The Road” before they resumed the full band for a few more songs before finishing.
Frank talked about how they were trying to begin a song with the state moto of every state, but very quickly that didn’t work out as a few wordy and other directions. He jested with the Sleeping Souls’ new drummer, Callem Green, how it only took forty-seven states to finally have his first American pasty. Callem praised the pasty too, which I can only presume came from our local Cornish Pasty restaurant around the corner. Plus, he pointed out to go visit One N Ten’s table, the local LGBTQ youth help organization he invited out for the show.
When Frank Turner isn’t talking, him and the entire band are constantly moving, swinging around, and playing. Of course, when a band is that charismatic on stage it only just infects the crowd to do just the same for the tenure of the music. It is another reason I love watching this band. This set was like getting a fourth ice cream sundae on top of already eating three others. Frank Turner continues to be one of my all-time favorite musicians and if my scratchy throat from singing along was an additional barometer, this night was incredible.