As someone who writes about live concerts, I am supposed to have a clue about major Minnesota artists, right? Turns out, I suffer from a bit of tunnel vision when it comes to music genres I usually don’t listen to. Case in point: Home Free. I was not familiar with the group at all. From Mankato? Upcoming tour hitting 15 countries? Won NBC’s the Sing-Off? 300 million YouTube Streams? How did I not know about them? This I have to see!
The show started early – heck to a music photographer 7 PM is mid afternoon. There was already a good sized crowd for opener Jeffrey East. Let me say this: East is a pretty good singer, but if the music thing doesn’t work out for him, he can easily make it as a stand up comic. He introduced himself as “The shortest guy on the tour bus” and his comments between songs had me (and the audience) laughing. Jokes aside, East impressed with his voice and a slow ballad (with a female singer who’s name I missed, sorry) was a thing of beauty.Home Free took to the stage one singer at a time, each one greeted with loud cheers from fans. Whatever outdated notions of an a capella group I had got blown away in the first couple of minutes. There was constant movement on stage. Home Free certainly is not your grandfather’s barbershop quintet. Their new songs have a country feel (I did not hear any pick up truck references though) and worked well. The applause and cheers after their first three songs were the longest I recall at First Ave.
Their new album is called “Dive Bar Saints” and to ensure the quality of their dive bar, they built one as part of their stage, and promptly put it to good use for drinks. The setlist featured a lot of their new songs with some fan favorites and covers thrown in.
There was a special vibe about First Avenue last night. Yes it was a “hometown” show but the deep connection fans have with Home Free became clear when I went to check my camera bag. There’s usually a small group of smokers from the audience outside First Ave’s door. Last night? Not A Single One! Is Home Free’s audience that health conscious or are those guys just that good? My money is on the latter.
Set List: ? / Leave This Town / Dive Bar Saints / Elvira / Catch Me If You Can / Go Rest High / Timeless – Try Everything / Drums / Lonely Girls World / Why Not / Dreamer / Country Roads / Do Me Like That / Ring