The Duluth, Minnesota quintet played fiery, rapid alt-bluegrass from their sixth studio album Stars and Satellites, released April this year. Their set-list ranged between the dark, hypnotic ballads and the whiskey-fueled barn-burners that have made a name for the group in the worlds of folk, bluegrass, and alternative music. Lines formed down the block from The Vogue from before 8 Friday night until well after 9 when the opening band, Honey Honey, began playing to a packed venue. The diverse crowd drawn to the alt-folk sound was apparent at the show. From punks and trendsetters, to country guys and gals, Trampled by Turtles and Honey Honey bring out the best in Indianapolis.
Honey Honey lit the fire early on with their raucous mixture of blues-rock riffs and swamp-folk instrumentation. Lead singer Suzanne Santo's vocals pierce through the top of the sound in perfect harmony with the band's demeanor. She's like if Taylor Swift had a boyfriend who has a leather jacket and a motorcycle, but then lost the boyfriend and kept the leather and the bike. Not only does Santos stoke the night's flames with her voice but she also displays skill on the banjo and the fiddle, augmenting the band's sound.
Their latest release is titled Billy Jack and it contains all the raw power, storytelling, and charismatic combinations of rock and folk. Santos and guitarist/singer Ben Jaffe have a shared bond in forming a distinctive sound in a musical climate that has latched onto folk as a contemporary genre. The album plows through an emotional fury of the duo's songwriting and leaves listeners thirsty for more.
Trampled by Turtles assembled quietly onstage, the five of them spaced equally at the front of The Vogue's stage. Since the beginning of their career together in 2003 they've completed 6 albums full of an original take on bluegrass and string-folk music. They've appeared on television's Squidbillies and Deadliest Catch, toured all over, and played festivals like Coachella, Stagecoach, Bumbershoot, Newport Folk Festival, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, and many more. They came into the folk spotlight after their previous album Palomino spent 52 weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard bluegrass charts. From singer Dave Simonett's raw, honest vocals to Ryan Young's experimentation with traditional fiddle, Trampled by Turtles are a staple for folk music fans.
The group's set is everything that it could live up to be. Trampled by Turtles played a hearty mix from their catalog. Songs like "Wait So Long" and "Alone" were greeted with welcome sing-along participants in the audience while the lesser-known were treated with respect and thoughtfulness. One of the greatest pleasures of seeing the band play live is that each member has a chance to showcase their abilities, from the steady, grooving rhythms of bassist Tim Sauxhaug, to the driving banjo picking of Dave Carroll, and the finesse of mandolin player Erik Berry.
Indianapolis was the second to last date that the two groups played together, but after Friday's show it won't belong before they'll come back for Hoosier support.