photos by Kevin Gillingham
It was a typical, busy Friday night outside west 34th street—full of commuters, tourists, weekend warriors, and the occasional homeless men on the corner. Yet, inside the luxe Hammerstein Ballroom, you may have wondered if you were still in New York. Most of the crowd was completely countrified, dressed in cowboy boots, hats, and flannel, and ready to see headliner Kip Moore.
I, however, was eagerly waiting to see the Wild Feathers, who are touring in support of their latest, Greetings From The Neon Frontier (Warner Brothers) (read our review of it here). They appropriately kicked things off with “Quittin’ Time,” an up tempo rocker that set the tone for this Friday night, with vocalist/guitarist Taylor Burns emphasizing the chorus of “Take my pride, sell it all to your friends / A bottle of whiskey and it’s quittin’ time again.” Next up was “Big Sky,” which showcased the band’s musical chops. It featured an elongated bridge, propelled by solos from guitarist Brett Moore and Burns.
A big part of the Wild Feathers allure is the fact that they have three singers in Burns, Joel King (bass/vocals), and Ricky Young (guitar/vocals), often sharing lead duties within the same song (I even overheard one concert goer ask another, “How many people can sing in this band!?”). What sets them a step further apart is their three part harmonies, which was highlighted in the gentle, serene chorus of “Wildfire.” They picked the tempo back up with “Stand By You,” a happy ode to strong friendships.
The Feathers then broke into a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” By this time, the floor was starting to fill up and the audience was beginning to take notice, with most of the room singing along to the chorus. They finished off their set with two cuts from their self-titled debut. “Left My Woman” again displayed those three part harmonies, cascading into an emotive solo by Moore and eventually leading into an acapella bridge, with some of the crowd singing along. If the crowd wasn’t impressed by then, the Feathers saved the best for last with “The Ceiling.” Most of the audience was engaged and clapping along for the intro, and it only escalated from there, with drummer Ben Dumas providing some powerful fills in the chorus.
Despite the opening slot, the Wild Feathers set was one worthy of a headliner. The newer songs were treated with a little less polish than what is heard on the record, but it only added to the old school rock and roll vibe that they carry. With the ability to serenade the crowd with their lush harmonies, vocal tradeoffs, and rock and roll swagger, the Wild Feathers are a rare breed, and an even rarer one on a major label. Catch their latest tour dates here.