Show review: The Suffers at The Grey Eagle

There are nights in Asheville when all the shows you want to see are happening at once, and you have to make tough choices. Then there are nights when all the bands you want to hear (or at least many of them) are playing on one stage. Saturday was such a night at The Grey Eagle, with Porch 40 and The Suffers opening for local rockers The Broadcast.

Thought it’s difficult to wail harder than Broadcast front woman Caitlin Krisko, Porch 40 — a funk-rock quintet from Cullowhee — started the evening off with a power play. Their set was a bracing blend of funk bass, electric violin, saxophone and hair flipping. The apex was the bouncy and insouciant “Cheesy Grits;” the band ended with a searing cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.”

In the middle slot, 10-piece band The Suffers performed like headliners. Theirs was a short set, but it was packed with style, professionalism and their infectious Texas soul.

First, yes, Texas has soul. Who knew? But The Suffers are very convincing. A two-song intro showcased the band’s sharp horn section (complete with synchronized moves), a tight rhythm section, an indefatigable conga player (adding a Latin element to the band’s sound) and powerhouse front woman Kam Franklin — in a sparkly gold dress and cowboy boots.

As David Letterman said of the band’s recent network television debut on his show, “If you can’t do this, get out of the business.”

From a cover of “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” to songs from recent EP, Make Some Room, The Suffers skillfully mixed energy with suave, melody with infectious rhythm and displayed a dynamic array of moods. “Stay” is smooth and loungey, though hardly a slow song; the EP’s title track nods to funk and Motown. The melody bubbles and the rhythm pops.

That song, like the entire catalog, is dynamic but polished. Every member of the band works incredibly hard and the payoff is a fluid and completely engaging show. Each notes is purposeful, every move is supertight and rehearsed.

Want to hear more of The Suffers? They’ll return to Asheville to headline Downtown After 5 on Friday, Sept. 18. Mark your calendars.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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