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Michigan Rattlers Captivates Audience at the Middle East

February 14, 2020 | By Sasha Shrestha

Alternative folk rock group Michigan Rattlers delivered an intoxicatingly soulful performance at the Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub on Feb. 9. This would be the third stop on their tour with independent rock singer Brent Cowles. The band consists of lifelong friends Graham Young, the guitarist and main vocalist; Adam Reed, the upright bassist and vocalist; Christian Wilder on the piano, and Tony Audia on the drums. The group began writing and performing music together at their high school in northern Michigan, and have since been perfecting their distinct blend of folk-inspired rock-and-roll and Western nuance. In 2018, the group released their debut full length album Evergreen

Photo Courtesy of Press Here Publicity

The Rattlers launched into their set with a passionate rendition of Last Week, which established the lively atmosphere for the night. The somber lyrics, sung over a layer of catchy, toe-tapping instrumentation, can only be described as a genius composition of melancholy. With a fluid transition, they moved into Late Night Cigarette Talks. Wilder’s playful tune on the piano, accompanied by the full tones of Reed’s upright bass, bore a song that was hard not to move to. When the chorus dropped, the floor became a hive of people swaying and dancing along to the beats.

The energy was kept alive as the band shifted to the next song. With a golden spotlight illuminating his face, Young told a story about love and loss in I Remember. He conveyed a feeling of wistfulness as he mourned a love that never really got the chance to blossom. It seemed as though with every strum of his guitar, the song became more heartfelt. Baseball kept the same pensive tone at the beginning, but it quickly evolved into the band’s familiar rhythmic beat. Audia wowed the audience by rattling a shaker with his right hand while simultaneously playing the drums with his left. 

After an energetic performance of On the Level, the Rattlers candidly described their experience the last time they were in Boston. “The bouncer at the venue put a guy in a sleeper hold and just gently placed him on the ground. It was the craziest thing we’d ever seen.” The crowd erupted in thunderous laughter. Moments later, Young and a fan shared a quick drink. The chemistry between the band members and their fans was unmistakable. 

The band played new songs that would come out in the near future and revealed that their next single, Desert Heat, would be released the day after their performance.

The pace slowed as Wilder opened Didn’t You Know with a piano solo. Young serenaded the crowd with honeyed lyrics, such as, “We thought that our love was a chain link fence.” The mellow atmosphere did not last long though, as the Rattlers livened up the venue with a spirited cover of Three Dog Night’s Never Been to Spain. The audience shouted along to the chorus and jumped to the beat. Feeding off the crowd’s energy, the band wasted no time transitioning into Just Good Night

After the song ended, the Rattlers joked about their hometown in Michigan. “The town consists of about 5,000 people — 20,000 if you count the deer.” They then segued into the introduction of the title track of their latest album, Evergreen, a song about youthful arrogance and the nostalgia one feels when they leave their hometown. With a melody rich in tranquility and poignant lyrics, Evergreen was easy to get lost in. The song captured the exact feeling of realizing the place you grew up in wasn't so bad after all. 

After playing a few more upcoming releases, the band thanked the audience for coming out on a school night. They remarked that Wilder is actually familiar with the area since he went to school at Berklee, and they said that Boston is a great place to be. The Rattlers finished their show with Sweet Diane and Sirens.

Once the cheers and whistles from the floor subsided, the Rattlers stepped off the stage to meet their fans.