Having been to enough shows where the band outnumbers those in attendance, it’s always nice to walk into a room that is packed with excited concert goers. If you’re one of the dozen who regularly listen to the podcast, you know we have a running topic of “Why Don’t More People Attend Shows in Halifax”. Clearly, we’re not attending enough country shows, because there’s an entire legion of Haligoons who strapped on their cowboy boots and headed down to the Cunard Centre long before opening act Cold Creek County and headliner Dallas Smith hit the stage. It also helps that this was a show that was one of many on the Road to Cavendish series, which culminates in the Cavendish Beach Music Festival, the largest music festival east of Montreal.
When the lights went down, the members of six-piece country outfit Cold Creek County took to the stage with relatively new front-man Ches Anthony bringing up the rear. Once the band took their places, we were off and running with what felt similar to your typical rock show. These Cold Creek lads definitely do not subscribe to that old school country twang, and while Jordan Honsinger skillfully wielded a banjo onstage, it simply added another sonic dynamic to the band’s sound, as opposed to being a throwback to the early days of country music. CCC are not a band content to remain fixed in place, instead you will see the majority of band members making the most of the stage, and that comradery and interplay was clearly evident. That visible comfort level was clearly evident with some of the guitar duelling that took place during the set, and the vocal harmonies that shimmered brightly on a cover of David Allen Coe’s “Tennessee Whiskey”.
After an interesting musical interlude which consisted of both “Thunder” and “Believer” from Imagine Dragons, and “Shut Up and Dance” from Walk the Moon, it was time for the evening’s headliner to hit the stage and kick off his Side Effects Cross-Canada tour. When it comes to crisscrossing the expansive country that is Canada, it’s something that he has done more than on one occasion in the past two decades. The difference being that this marked Dallas’ first trek as a solo headlining act. In the past Dallas was either opening for acts such as Jason Aldean or Bob Segar, but now it’s his time to step into the spotlight.
Once the dust settled and the house lights came up, it was evident why the Cunard Centre was packed on a Thursday night in October. Smith is an electric performer who dominated the stage, bounding from side to side with the ease and poise of a seasoned performer. He would stop periodically for his fans to huck him their cell phone with which he would take great pleasure in snapping a selfie or video of the show, then he would toss the device back. This would happen off and on throughout the night. As Smith worked through his growing catalogue, he played a myriad of fan favourites such as “Lifted”, “Cheap Seats”, and “Autograph”. For the latter, Dallas and his band welcomed 3 couples to the stage to enjoy an intimate slow dance while the band serenaded the beaming fans. While it could have easily been a pretty rote affair, Dallas wasn’t about to let that happen, so he threw back the clock, dusted off the Default classic “Count on Me”, and freshened it up with a little country flair. In addition to a return to Dallas’ previous life, he welcomed pals Andrew Hyatt and Shawn
Austin to the show at different points of the evening to perform
alongside Smith & Co. The cherry on top was when Dallas and his band treated the crowd to a cover of the Chainsmokers/Coldplay collaboration “Something Like This”, which could have easily been a Dallas Smith tune (with a little Crash Test Dummies flourish).
The rest of the country is definitely in for a treat when Dallas Smith rolls into town with his Side Effects tour. It’s an entertaining and electric experience that will engage the countless country fans in Canada. The kickoff to the tour was a definite success, and certainly explained why the room was as packed as it was; Smith’s fans are rabid and devoted. If you have a chance, catch Smith and Co. on this tour.