The Nightowls’ concert in Washington, D.C. can overall be described in two words: quality entertainment.
The night started with opening act Jenna Camille. It took two songs before she introduced herself, and honestly, I wasn’t sure if she was warming up or had actually begun her set. This was partly because the show was advertised as starting at 8:30 pm and she took the stage shortly after 8 pm. She sat on a desk chair center stage with her DeepMind 6 synthesizer as her only accompaniment for her short performance. Her style of music fit the funk/soul style that The Nightowls pride themselves on, but overall, I wouldn’t have felt gypped if I had missed her due to the mis-advertised time.
The night really began when The Nightowls went on stage almost an hour later. Hailing from Austin, TX, ten members make up this energetic band: Ryan Harkrider (lead vocals), Rob Alton (bass guitar), Rydog Johnson (guitar), Vince Wiley (keys), Justin Hights (drums), Sara Stein (vocals), Kamilla Lamar (vocals), Andrew McLemore (saxophone), Luke Scallan (trumpet), and Zol Waterhouse (trombone). If you’re not familiar with the band, they’re known for bringing a modern twist to big-band stylings and–combined with jazz, pop, and other influences–creating a sound that will get you out of your seat and on the dance floor.
Their almost hour-and-a-half long set featured 17 songs, ranging from some of their older tunes to new jams from their latest album, We Are The Nightowls. As I’m a newer fan of the band, I only recognized songs from their latest album. But from “#selfiequeen” to “Don’t It Feel Weird (Falling In Love)”, I enjoyed every song on the setlist, even the ones I didn’t know. One of the most memorable parts of the night was when the band brought their smooth and sultry vibe to their cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together.” It was unexpected, but a delight none the less.
Altogether, the band is extremely talented, from the horn section and guitarists to the vocalists. Sometimes a large band can feel overwhelming as you don’t know who to focus your attention to next, but The Nightowls do an excellent job of making sure each member is recognized and their talent highlighted. Every band member and vocalist had at least one solo, if not more. They also make it very clear they are a tight-knit unit who enjoys making music together.
The crowd was one of the most interesting parts of the night. Gypsy Sally’s, the venue where the show went down, is an intimate space, yet the room still felt full despite there not being many attendees. The crowd was diverse, skewing from twenty-something young professionals looking to kick back after work to couples in their sixties enjoying a night out. Everyone, young and old, clearly enjoyed themselves.
It was, without a doubt, one of the best shows I’ve seen this year; I left feeling energized and smiling. I could go on and on about how much fun I had, but the proof is in the performance. So make sure you check out one of their shows if they come to your city.
You can follow The Nightowls on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. For more information about the band and to see if they’re coming to a city near you, visit their website. You can also find their new “self-titled” album, We Are The Nightowls, on Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud and wherever else you listen to music.