Stop Light Observations, Future Thieves – Tickets – Precarious Beer Hall – Williamsburg, VA – September 14th, 2019

Stop Light Observations, Future Thieves
Broadberry Entertainment Group Presents

Stop Light Observations

Future Thieves

Precarious Beer HallWilliamsburgVA

Stop Light Observations

John Keith Culbreth (aka Cubby) was 16 years old—no longer the religious child he had been back in his childhood days spent in Anderson, SC—but was, unknowingly, poised for a divine intervention of life-altering proportions. While peacefully sleeping after a classmate's musical performance, an entity presented itself to Cubby—the entity presented itself as God. "It was the most vivid dream I had ever had," says Cubby. "It felt so bizarre." "God" spoke to Cubby. It told him to contact his classmate, Will Blackburn, and come together to create music. Cubby obliged, Blackburn agreed, and the band proceeded to practice for over a year, never playing a show.  

Stop Light Observations' inaugural performance took place on Sullivan's Island. Among the crowd was Cubby's childhood pastor—a man with whom he had once had a close relationship. As it turns out, Cubby's former pastor was Will Blackburn's grandfather. Divinity had served up fate. Cubby and Blackburn had been childhood friends, but never knew it. SLO was born, and the sky was the limit.  

But things didn't truly take off until a few years later when SLO released their acclaimed 2013 debut, Radiation. Metronome hailed the record's "emotive and elegant" songs, which landed perfectly in the sweet spot between arena and indie rock. The band went from relative unknowns to playing Bonnaroo and selling out Charleston's largest club, The Music Farm, in just a year. 

Since then, Stop Light Observations have broken the record for most consecutive sold-out shows at The Music Farm and have toured across the country, playing standout festival sets at Firefly, Summerfest, and more. SLO's most recent LP, Toogoodoo, saw coverage at major national outlets from PBS and Conan O’Brien’s Fresh Noise to Impose, PopMatters and Garden & Gun, the latter praising Toogoodoo as "a promising debut from the band, who have wowed audiences throughout the South.” 

Now, following the successful release of Toogoodoo, and an ambitious year on the road in support, Stop Light Observations are poised to tackle their next major endeavor—an ongoing series of digital 45s, each with an A-side and B-side, entitled The Volume, which will disperse the band’s hard-hitting yet melodic songs in a more immediate fashion.

"The Volume is much more than just bypassing the mechanics of an album," Cubby explains. "Its about inspiring ourselves and others with this approach that lends itself to complete creative freedom. The Beatles released 250-plus songs in 7 years without the technology we have today. If they can do it, why can't we?"

At the center of the first volume is Stop Light Observations' new single, "Coyote." It’s a stunning, slow-building piano ballad that evolves strikingly through distinct dynamic phases, vocalist Will Blackburn's effortlessly toggling between a delicate croon and an anthemic howl. With "Coyote," the group distills its already potent arena-ready indie rock all the way through the song's powerful crescendo of an outro.

Thematically, “Coyote” deals with loss—something the entire band has coped with many times over the years. "The situations and emotions behind our songs are extremely personal," SLO guitarist Louis Duffie explains.  

Cubby adds, "When I was 15, I started dating my childhood sweetheart—who is now my wife—and after our first year of dating we received the earth-shattering news that her best friend, Lizzy, had committed suicide. She was the sweetest, happiest, and kindest girl in our entire high school and to believe she would take her own life was unfathomable. 'Coyote' is that story for me—the story of the pack animal, still feeling alone despite its family joining in its howls of pain. It is the girl with the bright smile taking her life—the fallen angel. It's the first time you meet up with all your friends and that person you all loved so much isn't there."

The first installment from The Volume also offers up "The Ghost of Larry Ford Jr.," an instrumental track that tackles the next step of loss: the frustration, anger and anxiety of letting go, all seamlessly communicated sans lyrics. The stylized, labyrinthine track sounds like a Wes Anderson films looks, along the way deftly mapping the chaotic trajectory of a mind in mourning.

Stop Light Observations may be blazing their own trails, but they want everyone to join them on their journey—fans, friends and family, past and present. "The Volume releases will ultimately be defined as a series—a voice for the voiceless. A podium for those who have yearned for the opportunity to share their own stories of struggle, passion, and love," vocalist Will Blackburn explains.

"We live in an era of polar divisions perpetuated by fear," Blackburn continues. "And the divide seems to be growing exponentially. But if we turn off the cable news channel and walk out our front doors and speak to our neighbors, we may find that our struggles, while they vary, are often quite relatable. It is my hope that trough this style of releasing music that we may open up the conversations that need to be addressed most in today's America. All are equal and all opinions should be heard with hopes of perpetuating peace and understanding. Love is the way and this is the path we have chosen to move forward."

SLO is:

William Blackburn (lead vocals)

JohnKeith "Cubby" Culbreth (piano/guitar/synth)

Louis Duffie (lead guitar)

Luke Withers (drums)

Will Mahoney (bass)

Future Thieves

Midway through recording their exhilarating new self-titled album, Nashville indie rockers Future Thieves left the studio and hit the road. It was difficult to walk away from the undeniable stride they’d hit, but the band had nearly two months of shows in Europe followed by a lengthy string of US dates on their calendar, and that meant completing the record would simply have to wait. Far from derailing the group’s progress, though, the road actually brought fresh perspective, with each performance revealing new depths and dimension to the music. The material had the unique opportunity to live and breathe and grow onstage every night, undergoing sometimes radical evolutions in instrumentation and arrangement as the tour progressed. By the time Future Thieves returned to the studio, the songs were battle-tested and sturdier than ever, and the resulting album is a remarkable showcase of growth and maturity from a band poised for a major breakout.

“Taking the new songs on the road gave us a much better feel for how to finish them when we got home,” reflects singer/guitarist Elliot Collett. “We didn’t exactly do it that way on purpose, but it turned out to be the best way to develop the music because we could see what translated with audiences, what felt essential, and where the songs really wanted to go.”

The lengthy process behind the Future Thieves’ new release is a far cry from their most recent record, a live-in-the-studio album captured entirely in an hour. Comprised largely of material from the band’s critically acclaimed 2015 debut, ‘Horizon Line,’ ‘Live at Blue Rock’ garnered praise everywhere from Conan O’Brien’s ​Team Coco to Guitar World​, which hailed it as a “collection of turbo-charged Americana tunes.” Relix similarly raved that the album “captures the quartet’s spirit and intensity,” while ​The Tennessean simply lauded the band as “incredible.” They followed it up in 2017 with “Sucker,” an infectious single that earned love from ​Billboard, ​who highlighted the band’s newfound “infusion of...electro-pop grooves,” and Jimmy Fallon, who premiered the official video on ​The Tonight Show​’s Tumblr. The group’s searing live show, meanwhile, helped them notch festival appearances from Bonnaroo to Summerfest and prompted Live Nation to name them to their Ones To Watch series.

When it came time to write their sophomore album, Future Thieves continued down the road they’d begun exploring with “Sucker,” further pushing their songwriting into bold and adventurous new directions. Ethereal synthesizers, vintage drum machines, and shimmering guitars introduced threads of pop and electronic music into the band’s organic sensibilities, generating dreamy soundscapes and hypnotic grooves as the foursome crafted their most expansive and collaborative work yet.

“’Horizon Line’ represented the first songs we ever wrote together, and it all happened very spontaneously,” explains guitarist Austin McCool. “This time around, we wanted to take a more methodical and premeditated approach. We wanted to explore different sounds and experiment with different palettes, and I think our writing sessions were a lot more focused because of that.”

For those writing sessions, the band (Collett, McCool, bassist Nick Goss, and drummer Gianni Gibson) left Nashville and relocated to a small lakeside cabin in central Tennessee. Over the course of two separate weeklong trips, they generated a slew of new ideas, writing and refining and demoing day and night. Producer Alex Jarvis joined the group on these retreats, offering early input and helping shape the raw material as it flowed out of them.

“Everything started in a single room in that cabin,” says Collett. “We had all our gear set up in there, and we’d just get up every morning and start throwing out riffs and melodies and moods to try and get inspired. It was super collaborative.”

The band’s next destination was Texas, where, after a stop at SXSW, they set up camp for two weeks at El Paso’s famed Sonic Ranch, a massive recording complex that’s hosted everyone from Portugal. The Man and Beach House to TV On The Radio and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. There, the group followed their muse and laid down the album’s infrastructure, letting the songs dictate an ever-changing approach to recording.

“Every day was completely different down there,” says McCool. “Sometimes we’d start with bass and drums, other times with synths or guitars. Even the weather could change our approach. When it was nice out, there was an abandoned water tower on the property we could record inside.”

From El Paso, the band hit the road for Europe and beyond, eventually returning home to Nashville to finish the album utilizing the newfound insight they’d gained from tour. The finished product is absorbing and arresting, the kind of record that immediately draws you into its own uniquely immersive world. Album opener “Online” sets the stage perfectly, swelling from an eerie synth bed into a soaring Pink Floyd-esque vision of a digital dystopia. Our ambivalent relationship with technology (and the divisions it fosters in our relationships with each other) is a recurring theme on the record, one tackled eloquently on the razor-sharp “Machines,” which finds Collett singing, “Oh the machines they come and go / Just stick to your heart and what you know.”

“There’s a fine line you can cross were you get too caught up in technology, where you’re spending your life stuck inside your phone and missing out on all these amazing things going on around you,” he explains. “But at the same time, we’re recognizing that we’re recording this song with synthesizers and computers and using all these digital tools. It’s a testament to trying to find balance in your life.”

Balance (of light and dark, hope and disappointment, future and past) is the ultimate goal of a number of tracks on the album, from the angular “On The Run,” which wrestles with indecision and regret, to the chiming “Dark Spin,” which swims in a churning sea of memories unleashed by running into an ex. Collett’s lyrics often grapple with growing up and accepting that nothing lasts forever, but there’s an indefatigable optimism to songs like the bright and splashy “Prom Night,” an effervescent tale of two lovers committing to each other despite all the outside forces pushing them apart. The wistful “Same Things” exhorts us to make the most of the time we have with our loved ones, while the pulse-pounding “Drive” sees parenthood

as a chance to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, and the silky “Over” makes the case for passing on what you’ve learned before it’s too late.

“All these songs were written to motivate people, to get them on the same page,” says Collett. “We wanted to remind them that there are always other people out there that feel the same way they do.”

In that sense, this is an album that’s ultimately about connection in an increasingly disconnected world, about the lessons and the moments we can share that no machine can ever replicate. Future Thieves are ready to hit the road again, and while they’ll certainly have their synthesizers and electronics in tow, they’ll be bringing a batch of songs aimed straight for your heart, human to human.

Venue Information:
Precarious Beer Hall
110 S Henry St
Williamsburg, VA, 23185