How many times have you seen a live show where you were not familiar with the opening acts? Maybe you even missed the opening acts because of travel or lack of paying attention to the start times. Sometimes it is unavoidable depending on work schedules, travel plans, or traffic, etc. More often than not, though, you can count on the headliners to tour with equally incredible artists.
So, get to the show early and let’s check out these memorable openers!
My mom and I first saw Marc Scibilia open for James Bay in 2015. Although you may not know Marc by name, you will likely recognize his voice from a familiar Jeep Super Bowl commercial. Hearing “This Land Is Your Land” had the crowd experiencing a déjà vu moment. You’ve probably seen it, check it out here.
Marc played several songs that had the crowd hooked on first listen. He was an act that you frantically type into your search bar and instantly add all of his songs. His single at the time, “Wide Open Arms,” had such an anthemic vibe in the small theater. If you are a Springsteen fan, give Marc Scibilia a listen. He has that American folk-rock kind of style. He often likes to cover a little Springsteen now and then which tends to draw the crowd in even more. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for his album Out of Style out in October of that year. From that album, “Better Man,” “The Moment,” and “Jericho” are vulnerable tracks with relatable lyrics about love and relationships.
Marc Part 2 & 3
Fast-forward a year later, and Marc was opening for Gavin Degraw here at Red Hat in 2016. He played an emotional stripped style version of “Jericho.” There couldn’t have been a more picturesque venue for the song. “How Bad We Need Eachother” was an anthemic crowd favorite that got everyone on their feet clapping along.
The best thing about discovering new artists that tour with your favorites is that they usually come back around for shows of their own. Marc was headed back to the triangle for the “Summer Clothes” tour at the Pour House in 2017. Although it may have been an untimely Monday in June, it was a fan’s dream. Let me say that his voice and performance were both much bigger than the venue. He has released several outstanding singles since this show. His most recent release, “You Are the Night,” has a Calvin Harris type beat on a classic love song.
James Bay sure knows how to pick impressionable opening acts! For round two of the “Choas and the Calm” tour the female band, Joseph blew fans away. Their harmonies are insane, which makes perfect sense because they are sisters, after all. Songs like “White Flag” and “Canyon” had Bay fans immediately hooked and wanting to hear more. I haven’t taken their album out of the now spinning queue since. Perfect timing to check them out now as they are back with a new powerful single “Fighter.” They also announced an upcoming album along with a North American and European tour this past week.
Jamie Lawson was the first artist signed to Gingerbread Man Records by Ed Sheeran in 2015. Although he opened for many Ed shows on the road, he also opened for Vance Joy AND One Direction!
Jamie is a timeless songwriter with a voice that will cut through and mesmerize a crowd of any size. His intimate style of performing reminded me of Damien Rice’s shows. If you are unfamiliar with Damien Rice, he is one of Ed Sheeran’s longtime idols. You could drop a pin at his shows, and everyone seems frozen in awe. This comparison makes perfect sense in regards to the allure of Jamie Lawson. He had Ed, Vance, and 1D fans eating out of the palm of his hand; convincing most of them to book trips to see him again. Grab the tissues before you listen to his chart-topping single, “Wasn’t Expecting That.”
Mikky Ekko was the most surprising opening act I have seen in a while! Immediately my mom and I were blown away by his voice and his stage presence. You may think you are not familiar with him, only to find out that he wrote and sang on the hit song “Stay” with Rihanna. Boy, did he ever hit that one out of the park on stage! If you want to check out his solo version of the song, this one is stunning.
Every other song that he played made the crowd feel like they were at his headline show. For instance, “Not the One” is a song that draws you in so much that you forget where you are. I haven’t had the chance to see him again, but I have since followed all of his releases. I am looking forward to what he has in store next.
What a perfect festival band! After lovelytheband opened for Vance Joy and 5 Seconds of Summer in 2018, they seemed to pop up on every festival lineup. Most listeners will be familiar with their radio single “Broken.” However, this was not the tune that jumped out to me the most. Their song “Coachella” was the one that turned me into a fan, and has become somewhat of a ‘Chella season anthem.
Furthermore, “Your Whatever” off of their debut release, Finding It Hard to Smile, is a ‘write the lyrics in your away message’ kind of track. “You’re obsessed with the moon and in love with the stars. I’m in love with your soul and everything that you are.” Yes, please!
This recommendation comes to me from my parents. They recently saw Lauren Jenkins open up for The Wild Feathers at the Chameleon Club. My mom felt that the crowd was drawn to her “humor and comfort with telling her story.” “She had that personality that pulled you in, and she wasn’t afraid to talk about her failed relationship that inspired some of her songs.”
If you listen to her album, No Saint, you can quickly tell that she has a Nashville influence. One of the stand-out tracks is “Running Out of Road,” which may be reminiscent of early Taylor Swift tunes like “A Perfectly Good Heart” and “The Way I Loved You.” This track has the lyrics that Taylor is capable of today as a veteran songwriter. Point blank: Taylor Swift fans would LOVE her music. I hope to see her up on stage doing her thing alongside Taylor in the future!
Check out this playlist featuring these A-List Opening Acts!