Very rarely does one have the opportunity to review a local band whose energy and stage presence is as under-appreciated and overshadowed by larger mainstream acts as Fair City Fire. Austin, being the pinnacle of live music, presents an overly saturated market of local performers as well as musicians that travel to the Music Capital to leave their mark, making Austin’s music environment very competitive. Despite having performed on the local news and playing at historical venues such as Mahall’s 20 Lanes bowling alley in Ohio, Austin’s competitive local music market is the reason why Fair City Fire is still at the foot of a large hill that leads to opportunities and performances at larger venues and events. However, their welcome-home performance at Lambert’s Downtown BBQ proves that the trek to the top won’t take them long.
Hometown Heroes in the Making
On a slow-moving Friday at Lambert’s on Sept. 18, I was able to meet with the band and saw first-hand the result of their hard work. Despite maintaining day jobs, the group successfully formed a dynamic team whose abilities are hard to summarize concisely for their diversity in talent. From the profit they made from home-based shows, they were able to fund their Say It Loud tour that took them to the states of New York and Ohio, but not without having to squeeze into one trailer-hitched car all the way from Texas.
Opening Act: Tahoma
Already two (dozen) drinks down, I roamed past a chattering herd of people buzzing about the upstairs area of Lambert’s where the stage sat confidently under the rays of a bright neon orange sign reading “LIQUOR.” As the light filled the place with a sophisticated ambiance, I watched as the opening act, Tahoma, took stage.
Tahoma, an impressive act all their own, gave off a folky vibe that complemented the subtle smell of BBQ. I was once again graced by the presence of Vinnie Fallico from Waking Fable, a band that played at Swan Dive’s Glitter Tribe event last weekend. I was reminded of his fitting talent in guitar and was pleased to see him take stage once more even with a different band.
Four Piece Band “With the Power of Seven”
With Tahoma performing as an equally talented opener, Fair City Fire came on and presented itself as a four-piece band “with the power of seven,” as described by Fair City Fire lead singer and guitarist Brian Wolff and drummer Joe Valadez. They weren’t wrong. I felt the stage might have collapsed under them if it were just built with less care.
They immediately delivered an energy-packed and electrifying performance. Of the set, my favorites included “Johnny” and their title-track “Say It Loud,” which featured very subtle pop undertones that made it irresistible to sing along to. And indeed, they sang so loudly, their closing song “Get It Right” riled up the audience as a part of the ceiling was knocked down onto them during their closing introduction of the band. Regardless, these talented musicians ignored the death trap and even went on for an encore of “I Want You.”
Watch the roof fall in the video below:
VIDEO: Margaret Ann Brennan
Best Performance of the Weekend
Overall, Fair City Fire’s show (hosted by C3 Presents, the same events company that puts on ACL Festival) made for an explosive close and the perfect pregame performance for a wild night. Their show reminds other performers that with dedication to maintaining a passionate and heart-filled act, they can make an imprint upon the local music scene in Austin.
PHOTOS: Nathalie Phan