Live Review: The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ Bunbury Festival, Cincinnati OH (6/7)

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The underdog story is the most endearing kind of story that can be told. It’s told in all types of narratives – we see it from childhood picture books through the most sophisticated novels. As far as I’m concerned, there was one underdog at Bunbury on Sunday: Reverend Peyton and his big damn band.

I won’t lie, we stopped at this show in passing. I had never heard of the group, had not bothered to look them up after seeing their name on the lineup. In fact, I would not be surprised if plenty of the people sitting in the River Stage auditorium had the same story going in. But here is the thing – Reverend Peyton does not care about your expectations. It is all about leaving you floored once the three piece even has a moment of your time.

Reverend Peyton slid up and down his steel guitar’s fretboard right as I stepped up to the stage, ready to take me off guard. The guitar playing is a fundamental blues with country twang. The group sounds like The White Stripes ditched Detroit and grew up down south. Interestingly the band is from Indiana, but they have all the southern charm regardless.

One of my favorite moments of the concert was when The Reverend Peyton’s large as life personality really showed through. Before beginning “Clap Your Hands”, the reverend instructed everyone to stand up and mocked whining, “Aww, Reverend Peyton made us have fun at the concert!” People laughed at themselves and got up, and listened. There really was no other option. Reverend Peyton just demanded it. He took the crowd through the phases of the upcoming song, pointing out how to respond to each section. In “what may be the important verse of our lives”, he demanded everyone screamed like their hair was on fire. No ‘woos’ or ‘hollerin’ allowed either – that stuff is only for sorority parties, according to the Reverend.

The crowd was naturally all in on the instructions once the song began.

And just like that, the underdog had won the crowd over. From then on there was no stopping The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. They ripped through songs with their finger picking earthy blues. The crowd was right there with the music: in the reverend’s hand. The underdog just couldn’t be stopped, and I’d applaud anyone brave enough to try.

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