Susto is a hearty pasta dish with mussels- rich, yet comfortable. Sautee some garlic and shallots, add in some white wine reduction, and include bacon and red pepper for a little kick, some bite. There is comfort in the sound, but lead singer Justin Osborne’s musings on religion, drugs, and growing up in the South prevent Susto from slipping into the background of a dinner party.
Osborne mills about before his set at Orlando’s Backbooth- shaking hands, exchanging hugs, and sipping a beer. Two fantastic openers, David Oliver Willis and Bill Silver are ideally billed and sufficiently whet the crowd’s appetite. It’s a good showing for Orlando and most of us seem pleasantly surprised by the two initial acts.
Susto goes on tour with The Lumineers in a month, so this is likely the last time we will be able to enjoy them in an intimate setting. The mid-sized crowd welcomes the band accordingly.
Osborne stands stage center looking like a young Jeff Tweedy. He’s got fussy hair accented by a baggy Joy Division sweatshirt and is playing music that only vaguely resembles the Americana label to which it is usually attached.
Susto’s set is a balance of their first album and the outstanding new effort, & I’m Fine Today, which came out Friday, January 13th. Much like their self-titled debut, this new batch of songs takes on life’s more difficult questions in an accessible package, but not without having a little fun.
Played live, our access takes on the form of a bonafide rock show. Osborne gets lost in the moment, face contorted, body movin’. Each band member has their own moment in the sun as Osborne pays them tribute, bounding to their corner of the stage in ecstasy.
He drops to his knees during “Waves,” a new song about surfing and taking drugs with God, guitar soaring in an opening of the rock n’ roll portal. If we were not previously aware of the breadth of their sound, that question has been answered just two songs into the set.
Corey Campbell takes a break from the keys to deliver a biting guitar solo as Osborne looks on triumphantly, his own ax suspended overhead.
He looks like a proud papa whose gamble to start a band and hit the road is fulfilling whatever itch causes people to take such a risk.“
A band in this stage of their career is a blast to watch. Susto seems on the verge of a big breakthrough. Their name is infiltrating more and more conversations about bands you ought to have on rotation. The feeling which accompanies such a wave is so much fun to watch as it forms. The power resident in building momentum, with all its promise – and potential pitfalls – manifests as explosive art on stage. Susto is doing something special right now. We were among the fortunate few who got to see it build.
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