Banditos at Will's Pub

Sunday Morning Stepping Up | Banditos Live Review | Will’s Pub Orlando | Sunday May 3 2015

by • May 6, 2015

“We’re not used to playing rock n’ roll shows this early,” Corey Parsons, one of Banditos’ three lead vocalists, says. 

It’s 4:30 p.m. on a Sunday at Will’s Pub and Banditos has just opened with “Golden Grease.” The song’s off their Bloodshot Records debut (streaming here) whose website recommends Banditos if you like Drive-by Truckers, Alabama Shakes, Georgia Satellites, Waylon Jennings, and Houndsmouth. (Not bad company, that.)

It’s fitting a song by Watasha himself was the mid-set gem illustrating Banditos’ obvious blend of chemistry and talent. Their version of Waymore’s Blues had all of the familiar Waylon Jennings hallmarks, characterized first and foremost by that familiar lazy, chugging bass line. Banditos made the tune its own. When later asked about that particular performance, three band members each raved about how it came together naturally for them in rehearsals.

Standing in Will’s tiny room, with sunlight almost bizarrely peeking in through cracks in the window coverings, one couldn’t help but assume songs come together easily for Banditos. They’re really good at their jobs, so good you have a hard time figuring out where to focus your attention. Which shouldn’t have been real tough given the time of day.

The early start left most of us with only the embryonic stages of a buzz. While no one was talking (or loudly singing) over the vocals, there was still a pretty enormous bald spot in front of the stage- a condition that sometimes detracts from a show’s energy. Most folks need a little lubrication before they get right next to the band and start shaking. That said, the band compensated for a lack of fan presence up front by pouring straight up passion into the room via 11 beautiful songs.

That fire hit a new intensity when Banditos launched into the bluesy Southern rock number “Cry Baby Cry.” Jeff Salter’s guitar sounds like country steel as interpreted by Widespread Panic. It was rightfully on a pedestal, too. They’d won us over by then, but the moment birthed longterm fans.

All three singers bring a completely different flavor to their music. Mary Beth Richardson’s wail lends a buttery Janis Joplin feel. Stephen Pierce’s banjo-forward tunes are hauntingly beautiful, a little more down-home even. And Parsons adds a Southern rock flair a la Ronnie Van Zant.

At times, all three styles collide, as if Banditos aren’t exactly sure what they are going to eventually be. One song is a Southern soul number, another sounds like Chet Atkins. Perhaps we’re witnessing a really talented band trying to find its sound. If that’s the case, let’s hope they remain wayward for a long while.

Banditos at Will's Pub

Setlist for Banditos at Will’s Pub:

Golden Grease
Can’t Get Away
Long Gone, Anyways
No Good
Waymore’s Blues (Waylon Jennings cover)
Fun All Night
Cry Baby Cry
Still Sober (After All These Beers)
Old Ways
I Put A Spell On You (Screamin’ Jay Hawkins cover)

Banditos Live Review by Jason Earle.

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