Situated perfectly between a shaded tree line and the endless rows of food vendors, the Great Southern Bank stage closed out its lineup for this year’s Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival with a captivating set by Mandolin Orange. The duo, comprised of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, carried out a remarkable show that relied on the equally endless talent and chemistry the two share. As the sun set behind the field, the glow from the stage grew and the sometimes melancholy, sometimes hopeful lyrics and chords that floated from the stage drew listeners closer with each song.
Opening with “Golden Embers,” a solemn track that speaks of loss and remembrance from its latest album “Tides of a Teardrop,” Mandolin Orange set the tone for the story-telling theme that would ensue. Before starting the next song, Frantz promised the audience a show to remember. “[We are] glad to be here making new memories with y’all today,” Frantz said. From that point, it was apparent that the show would be an intimate experience for festival-goers who had decided to spend their evening with the duo.
Marlin and Frantz’s relationship translated into a closeness felt by the entire audience as they command the stage in a simple way. Often, Marlin would close his eyes through particularly meaningful lyrics, adding to the group’s authenticity. Songs sharing raw emotions and accompanied by moving rhythms ensured that audience members of all ages were able to feel a sense of inclusion as the set went on.
While known for these haunting vocals and sorrowful instrumental stretches, the pair sprinkled in enough up-tempo songs to get the crowd off their blankets and stomping their feet. It was hard to ignore the fact that Marlin and Frantz often switched instruments, showing off a range of talent whether it be on the violin or the band’s namesake, the mandolin. Playing a mix of songs off several of their albums gave long-time fans a chance to show off their loyalty to the group. However, the almost sing-along, repetitive nature of their music meant newcomers were joining in at times too. The two even covered Joe Newberry’s “Missouri Borderland,” paying a sort of tribute to the place Roots N Blues N BBQ calls home.
After an hour and a half long display of great talent and vulnerability by the band and vocalists, they closed with a favorite off their 2016 album, “Blindfaller.” With a perfect sense of closing entwined in its lyrics and melodies, “Lonesome Whistle” seemed to thank the crowd for coming and wish them a safe ride home as people began to pack up their personal belongings. As the duo said goodnight, members of the crowd spoke praise after finally seeing a long-time favorite or discovering their next musical obsession.
Edited by Joe Cross | email@example.com