Whenever I am asked about an opening band for a concert, my advice is always to show up on time for the opener. Never intentionally skip the opening band. This past Friday Night in Huntsville, there was just this exact situation.
I was leaning towards going to this particular show when they announced the headliner. When a band that I enjoy seeing comes to town, I make every attempt to be there. At first, it was just an announcement for South of Eden. The week before the concert, a second band was added to the line-up. Lawrenceburg Tennessee’s very own Stone Harvest. These guys are friends of mine, so at this point I’m in. Just 6 days before day of the show, a third band was added.
I received a text from the band’s manager Ryan Pope. He told me that he was coming to town with a new band he was managing. Ryan’s text said, “Are you planning on being at South of Eden? My band Ace Monroe is opening the show, and I think you’ll really dig them.” Ok, with a text like that I must dig in a little deeper, so off to YouTube I go to have a listen. I liked what I heard, so plans are being made solid for this show.
To give this due diligence and a fair shake, I listened to the band’s debut recording to get an idea of what I would be in store for. The new recording is good, but could the band translate well into a LIVE band? I sat down with the band prior to Friday Night’s show and asked them what a newcomer like myself would expect from their set. “Expect our rock and roll show to be f**king loud and in your face, and groovy. You’re going to want to get up with all your friends dance, shake your hips, let it all loose. Let it all hang out and have a good time because I know that all the guys up there on stage including myself are also having a good time.” drummer Jonathan Tatooles told me. That sounds good. After-all, who is afraid of a good time at a Rock ‘n Roll show?
It’s time for the band to begin. We are about to find out if my self-advice is worth following. This is the first band and unfortunately, they have the shortest time slot. Most openers are only allowed 30 minutes for a set. The venue was allowing Ace Monroe a 45-minute set. After the first few notes, I could tell these guys were the real deal! Thank goodness for that extra 15 minutes! That may not seem like a lot, but when a band is good, you want every minute of as many songs as you can get.
Ace Monroe began their set with “Gotta Get It”. It took one song to turn the roomful of attendees into fans. Many people in attendance were there to see SOE and were as new or maybe newer to Ace Monroe than I was. The band went right into “Don’t Mind”. Both opening songs are new unreleased songs. Geez, are you kidding me?! These guys are good! The band told me prior to the show that we might hear a cover. “We tip the hat to our idols and influences here.” one band member told me.
The third song took us right to one of those influences. Eric McIntyre, the bass player, steps to the front of the stage with a cowbell and drumstick. The crowd begins yelling because everyone alive knows the opening cowbell to “Honky Tonk Woman”. Wait! These kids are influenced by The Stones? This just shows how diverse this band is. They are young, but they know their hooks! Their influences go deep. There’s another surprise cover coming later.
The next few songs are all from their recent recording, which if I didn’t mention already, is good! After “Honky Tonk Woman” the band kicks ass on the cut “Southern Comfort”. “Gospel” follows, and the band told me that this song holds a special meaning to them. “The songs are like our babies. I know Gospel always has special meaning to me, just counting that 4 Count on the High hat and hitting the snare and then Josh just lays right into it and Jack holds out to some beautiful work.” Jonathan says. He is so spot on. This double guitar attack is on point! Add the astounding vocals of Robbie Dylan and you have what it takes for a boundless Rock band!
The new single comes next, “Foolin’ It Up”. Really, another new song from such a new band? The next song gives another shout-out to one of their many influences, Aerosmith. Ace Monroe tears onto their version of “Train Kept a Rollin’”. (One of my favorite Aerosmith songs.) Let’s see how Jack Kaiser and Josh Alfano handle some Whitford and Perry. Take my word for it. They owned it!
The show ends on their song “Ghosts” which is one of the band’s first songs. “When we first started, we didn’t have any songs, obviously, and we get in a rehearsal room, and we would play that one over and over. So that one feels like home.” I’m sure glad they invited us into their home!
That was a quick, but fan solidifying set. I spoke with a few fans after the show to see what they had to say about Ace Monroe. “I didn’t really know much about them to begin with and listened to a couple of songs and thought they’re OK, but then seeing them LIVE was a total turn-around. Great rock band and their stage presence is even better! They have a new fan for sure!” Nikki Simonson told me. Greg Luckett says, “I didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t heard of them before this show. I’m now a fan because it is a legit fun rock show!”
“Hearing Ace Monroe for the first time, I was eager to see them LIVE. After officially seeing them, it’s an I gotta see them again and again feeling. Their energy was incredible, and they interacted with the crowd as if we were on a first name basis. They are a true 10/10! Can’t wait to see that band again!” an excited Madi Moore exclaimed.
In closing, if you never listen to another word I say, take this advice. Never skip the opener! You just might miss a great new band. All bands start somewhere, and they all opened for someone else at some point in their career. But, not to worry. If I were to make a prediction, Ace Monroe will not be an opener much longer. Ace Monroe plays with energy, excitement and what would seem way more experience than a band that has only been together just over two years.