Live Review: Sammy Rae & The Friends – Crystal Ballroom – 2023.10.15

This past Sunday, Sammy Rae & The Friends brought their Camp tour to Portland, Oregon’s Crystal Ballroom, where a lively crowd had gathered, dressed in their finest camp attire. The anticipation for The Friends’ performance was palpable as the audience buzzed with excitement. The stage was transformed into a summer campsite, adorned with foliage, wooden signs, and arts & crafts hanging from the mic stands. Staying true to the tour’s theme, Sammy Rae appeared in the attire of a park ranger, while The Friends sported scout vests, hiking gear, and friendship bracelets.

Sammy Rae, as the charismatic front of The Friends, delivered a soulful and potent vocal performance. Their connection with the crowd was evident as they effortlessly transitioned between speaking and singing. The band’s fusion of Funk and Jazz elements complemented Sammy Rae’s lyrics and remarkable voice, creating a seamless musical journey from one song to the next. The group evoked reminiscences of Big Brother and Holding Company, with Sammy Rae channeling a similar commanding presence of Janis Joplin. While Sammy Rae’s vocal style was cleaner, the underlying strength remained a constant throughout each song.

During the set, the band mentioned their exploration of different arrangements for familiar songs, adding an experimental element to the show. Yet, the fans remained captivated, singing along to every song, turning the Crystal Ballroom into a chorus of voices. One of the treats of the night was a funky rendition of “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jets, which was a delightful surprise. The evening left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance, underscoring the authentic connection between Sammy Rae & The Friends and their devoted fans, ensuring that these fans will return time and again for more unforgettable experiences.

Sammy Rae & The Friends mentioned they are currently working on their debut studio album. Until then, their debut live album “If It All Goes South Tour” featuring songs recorded at various tour stops across the U.S. and London is available to stream on all major platforms. Catch Sammy Rae & The Friends Camp Tour as it comes to Europe this November. Dates and tickets can be found via the bands website.

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