Hey guys! Here’s my latest guest post for AUX for the Whisky Rocks competition (bands – this is your LAST CHANCE to enter your song to win a spot opening for The Trews and gear from Gibson and Yamaha!), in which the guest bloggers were asked to talk about a memorable opening act we discovered by showing up early – or in my case, sticking around later.

When I was younger, I only showed up for the opener when it was important that I could actually see the stage (so, standing shows). Being short is easily the worst part of being a live music fan.

But, as I’ve become more interested in the local music community in the past few years, I’ve made it a point to show up earlier than usual – or stick around for the other bands playing that night in the case of some local shows – as it can lead to finding my next favourite band.

The most recent example of this would be during NXNE, when I attended the Horseshoe to see some of my favourite locals – Poor Young Things, CATL, and the special guests for the night – Yukon Blonde. As it was a local festival lineup, it wasn’t like a typical concert where the first bands to play are the lesser known ones, the order was a lot more random, and so Yukon Blonde (who would be considered the headliner) were on at 10pm before most of the bands for the night. After their set was over I decided to stick around for Young Empires and CATL, and this meant staying for The Lumineers set as well.

For some reason, I hadn’t yet heard of the The Lumineers, but the Shoe was abuzz about them – the venue was packed and I couldn’t get anywhere near the stage, so I figured I should stick it out and see what they were about rather than heading to another nearby venue for a different band and then coming back as I tend to do during these festivals.

And I am so glad I did.

It was easily the best set of NXNE for me, by a mile.

There is nothing like that feeling of seeing a random band you’ve never heard of, and being absolutely taken away by their set. I immediately had that “where have these guys been all my life?” feeling that always means I’ve found my next favourite band. I was transfixed by their presence, even though I was at the back of the very packed room and couldn’t see too much – that’s how strong the music was. The room went silent all the way to the bar – which, if you’ve ever been to a Horseshoe show – you’ll know what a rarity that is. It was that exact kind of folky, foot stomping, hand clapping, sing along music that fills me with immense joy, and I felt so grateful to have stumbled upon them. They left me feeling that incredible buzz I talked about in my previous article about what makes for a memorable live experience.

Of course, “Hey Ho” became a massive hit, and their self-titled album became the soundtrack to my summer. It will definitely be making it onto my top 5 albums of the year list.