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Haunted Like Human and Darby Wilcox and The Peep Show Conjure a Cool Midsummer’s Night of Music

About a block or so away from Downtown Grenville’s The Velo Fellow, another great outdoor performance of The Tempest by the  Upstate Shakespeare Festival was wrapping up in Falls Park on The Reedy, but there was nothing tempestuous about this unseasonably mild midsummer’s night in the Upstate. In fact, the cool temperatures, which were exceptionally cool for a late July evening, were almost magical. Turning summer into mid Spring, or a late South Carolina Fall, the weather served to enhance the faint hint of what was perhaps Prospero’s lingering magical influence. An influence that was so effectively conjured just moments ago on stage by the players. Into this extraordinary night of words and weather, Haunted LIke Human and Darby Wilcox brought the magic of music, and nothing could have rounded out the evening better. 

It was the first time that Cody Clark and Dale Chapman, the duo that comprises Nashville based Haunted Like Human, ever played at The Velo Fellow, or in Greenville, SC for that matter. Their performance of a host of their haunting original indie folk songs brought the magical outdoor atmosphere of the evening inside. Dale’s lyrics are both starkly realistic and poetic reactions to life experiences (“Sad Songs”) and dreamily imaginistic retellings of frightening events made palatable, and fascinating at once (“In The Woods”). While their songs often carry a sort of heavy spiritual weight that often accompanies the human experience, the duo themselves are incredibly lighthearted and outgoing personally. Dale’s stories and jokes about their songs like the aforementioned “Sad Songs” being the most “happy sounding of their songs” bespoke of a warmth and outgoingness that belies the image of the brooding introvert that one might imagine writes such heavy lyrics. Cody and Dale’s quick smiles and outgoing natures, evidenced by the time they both spent graciously talking with me before their sound check about everything from their current tour to the wonderfully temperate evening weather, were as refreshing and welcome from the talented artists as was their performance. 

Therein lies the unique magic of Haunted Like Human. They very effectively convey the dark side of the experiences that make us human, but never fail to raise your spirit at the same time through their performance, which was made even more enjoyable with their storytelling.

“We’re going to be writing and recording a lot more soon.”

Cody told me at the evening’s end. I’m looking forward to what the duo comes up with next. 

No magical night would be complete without a little time travel, and that’s exactly what Darby Wilcox and her backing band, The Peep Show, provided as follow up to Haunted Like Human’s set. Steeped in a thick 70’s rock tradition sprinkled with a healthy flavoring of 60’s country, Wilcox’s songs invoke themes similar to those of Haunted Like Human. Her excellent songwriting ability turns the intensely personal into the universally recognizable through relatable lyrics and her warm vocal performance. Playing nearly all the songs off of her debut album 11:11, Wilcox and her band raised even the most quiet of them to rousing levels of exuberance though their inspired playing. Songs like “Falling Your Way,” “Am,” and “Tell It Like It Is” were particular standouts with their guitar solos and more rock leaning sylings. “Tell It Like It Is” even dabbles in the type of mild psychedelica that Morrison, Manzarek, Densmore, and Krieger would get off on. Given Wilcox’s affinity for the aforementioned 60’s and 70’s country and rock traditions  (the band played excellent covers of The Guess Who’s “These Eyes,” Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain,” and Patsy Cline’s “Crazy”) the musical time warp that Wilcox and company manifested that night was no surprise.

Make no mistake though, Darby Wilcox and The Peep Show are no retro act. They are the perfect example of that rare type of band that reinvigorates an often tired and played out genre of rock by taking it to new and interesting dimensions. The classics they covered not only fit perfectly alongside Wilcox’s original offerings, they served as touchstones that revealed not so much their influence on her as much as they showcased the evolutionary roots of her contemporary interpretation of their sound

By the time the music ended it was the next day, but that refreshingly cool midsummer’s night will forever exist outside of time and season, and that’s the best evidence of not only a great, but magical, experience. 

Credits: Darby Wilcox and the Peep Show photo courtesy their Facebook page. Haunted Like Human photo courtesy of Cody Clark.

Carolina's based writer/journalist Andy Frisk love music, and writing, and when he gets to intermingle the two he feels most alive. Covering concerts and albums by both local and national acts, Andy strives to make the world a better place and prove Gen X really can still save the world.

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