In the pre-show press, Donavon Frankenreiter was billed as providing “folk-infused, honey-thick vocals, and masterful guitar” — and it’s an accurate description. Frankenreiter put on a groovy show Wednesday evening at SOHO in Santa Barbara, one filled with funky bass lines, wailing harmonica, and vocal harmonies so sweet they gave me a toothache.
The band as a whole had a tremendous amount of musical talent that was established from the very first song. Bassist, lead guitarist, and harmonica player Matt Grundy played an impressive instrument similar to a double guitar, but with a bass on top and guitar on bottom. This allowed him to loop his excellent bass lines and shred guitar riffs over them without having to change instruments. Of note towards the beginning of the set was a moment where the crowd got lost during a slow song, just to be wrangled back in with Grundy’s delicious guitar solo.
Percussionist and drummer Michael Duffy was equally impressive, taking full advantage of his cymbals and hi- hat. I personally loved the way he experimented with the whole of his cymbals, hitting them on the side to produce a unique sound.
Towards the end of the evening, Frankenreiter showed off some of masterful guitar skills. He pleased audience ears with a creative use of guitar pedals, layering the wah-wah and phase shifter.
“Free” was an immediately recognizable and lively crowd pleaser. The audience sang and clapped along loudly, which continued for the rest of the show. The next song highlighted Grundy’s exceptional harmonica playing, which made the crowd go wild. The evening could have ended there and audience members would have left feeling deeply satisfied.
Hands down, the highlight of the evening was the encore. Frankenreiter just did it right, inviting their opening act, Pete Harper, to join them for two last songs. They closed with their very popular “Don’t Matter,” and before the song came to an end, the band quieted their sound so Frankenreiter could credit his fantastic band members. He then took an opportunity to invite a fan on stage to close out the evening with the song’s chorus. What made this so special was that Frankenreiter forced the crowd to be silent so that when the beat dropped all everyone heard was the girl’s lovely singing voice. The band came back in with the catchy tune, allowing the crowd to exert the rest of their energy.
Having never heard his music before, I was more than pleasantly surprised to hear just how masterful and honey-sweet Frankenreiter’s music is. It was great to see such a large crowd together on a Wednesday night, grooving under Frankenreiter’s spell.