On Friday, April 22, The Band CAMINO performed to a sold-out crowd at the Ritz in Raleigh. In the midst of the group’s first nationwide tour to promote their first album, lead vocalist Jeffery Jordan, guitarist Spencer Stewart and bass guitarist Garrison Burgess played at the Ritz for the second time; in 2018, they opened at the venue for singer-songwriter Ben Rector.
Nearly four years later, the trio returned with two opening acts as part of The Tour CAMINO:Hastings, a solo act who’s worked closely with The Band CAMINO and flor, a mainstay of the dream pop and alternative rock crowd.
Doors opened at precisely 6 p.m. to a line of fans wrapped around the building; however, with the requirement for vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test lifted in line with local regulations, the crowd moved fairly quickly. Mostly made up of Gen Z high schoolers and college students decked out in mom jeans and low-top Vans, the concertgoers’ energy was palpable as they escaped the late-afternoon heat.
After my eyes adjusted to the Ritz’s dark, cool interior, the neat decor immediately caught my eye. Although it’s not much to look at from the outside, the venue shines from the inside out: neon bar signs, planets and disco balls hanging from the ceiling and an upper, roped-off level for VIP guests gives the Ritz an immersive feel.
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Hastings kicked things off right on time, starting off with his most-streamed song on Spotify, “Chapstick.” With a touring drummer and bass guitarist to back up Hastings’ vocals and guitar work, he immediately locked in the audience’s energy with melodies very similar to The Band CAMINO’s discography. This makes sense — Hastings co-wrote “Roses,” one of The Band CAMINO’s lead singles from their debut album.
Although Hastings’s set only lasted six songs, it was a great way to kick off the night. The crowd seemed thrilled to be at his first show in Raleigh, and Hastings took advantage of the energy, engaging with the audience between songs.
About 20 minutes after Hastings’ set, flor took the stage. The music’s vibe was certainly a little different than The Band CAMINO’s usual fare, but the crowd ate it up nonetheless. They heavily relied on synth player and lead singer Zach Grace’s bouncy, bubbly energy to engage with the audience and keep the mood high. Grace, guitarist McKinley Kitts, bass guitarist Dylan Bauld and drummer Kyle Hill took a shot of some clear spirit after the third track, raising their glasses as a toast to the audience. Even though I’d never heard of these guys before, their energy was infectious.
The Band CAMINO took the stage at 9 p.m. sharp to probably one of the loudest crowds I’ve heard in my lifetime. I’m not sure if it was the venue’s echo, the volume of teenagers and twenty-somethings cheering at the top of their lungs or some combination thereof, but I swear the hearing in my right ear shorted out like a cheap speaker when Jordan, Stewart and Burgess took the stage.
The Memphis natives kicked off their set with “Know it All,” a slightly underrated hit with far fewer streams than some of their biggest hits, but the crowd enjoyed it all the same. In fact, for almost every song throughout the set, you could hear fans singing along word-for-word. Jordan took advantage of that several times, throwing his microphone in the audience’s direction to encourage them to scream the lyrics back at him.
Following up “Know it All” with smash hits “Roses,” “Less Than I Do” and “2/14” was a smart choice. Albeit all from different eras of the band’s career, the bulk of the audience knew every song by heart and began to sway along with the beat of the music. The heart of the Ritz’s GA floor wasn’t a mosh pit by any stretch of the imagination; however, plenty of fans in the thick of the crowd were leaning forward with their hands outstretched to get as close as possible to the stage.
For a 21-song set starting two hours after the first opener, some might imagine the energy might die down in the middle before heating back up for the encore. On the contrary, The Band CAMINO did a phenomenal job of keeping spirits high. The group performed a good 80% of their discography, with the exception of a couple songs from their earliest EPs.
Fan favorites such as “Song About You” and “Hush Hush” revived the crowd’s energy mid-set, but of course, there were a few exceptions — “Crying Over You,” a gut-wrenching track written with Chelsea Cutler about a failed relationship commanded hundreds of smartphone flashlights across the venue, but the group was quickly back up to speed for “What I Want.”
For the last four tracks, Jordan and Stewart dropped their button-downs to perform some of their biggest hits: “See Through,” “1 Last Cigarette” and “Daphne Blue.” You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t moving and grooving for the final three songs of the set — as someone who listened to “See Through” on repeat the summer it came out, it was even hard to hear the person standing beside me over the sound of my own voice.
After two openers, 90 minutes, 21 tracks and one of the highest-energy concerts I’ve seen in recent memory, The Band CAMINO’s time in Raleigh officially came to a close with the 2019 indie rock anthem “Daphne Blue.” Despite the sore feet and buzzing headache I inevitably had after three and a half hours of live music, the trio brought a much-needed energy to the Ritz in a time when concerts are finally commonplace once again.