As I entered The Hamilton Live to see The Wheeler Brothers, I came to the event with an open heart and mind unfamiliar with the band. Doing research using various web tools prior to the show I learned that this five-piece quintet consisting of three brothers (Nolan, Danny, and Tyler Wheeler) and two friends (Danny Matthews and A.J. Molyneauex) from Austin, Texas have been playing together since high school. Their musical vision consists of an eclectic mixture of Country and Rock & roll. Their songs tell stories of life’s lessons where they use a multitude of instruments that range from a lap steel to a xylophone. As I left the venue after the show I came to this conclusion: The Wheeler Brothers is one song away from a musical breakthrough, but I am not sure their newest tracks will afford them such success.
As a former performer, I am cognizant of the fact that there are a multitude of factors that go into performing live sets, but song selection and placement proves to be the foundation of each gig. The anticipation of the first song cannot be stressed more when setting the pace of the entire gig. Unfortunately, The Wheeler Brothers first song provided a flat start and it wasn’t until the drums kicked in that the crowd got into it. The next piece didn’t do the group much justice as the drums this time actually drowned out the rest of the instruments. It wasn’t until their third number that the band started to find their stride, but this sentiment was short-lived as their next song, “Heather”, brought me back into a state of confusion. This roller coaster continued throughout the show where the very moment I wanted to get up and dance I became floored by the next piece. All in all, the fluidity of the set provided mixed emotions.
The musical execution does suggest The Wheeler Brothers are extremely talented and are well trained in their respective instruments. One thing that was very obvious was that one could tell which songs were new and which were older based on their stage presence and confidence. While the newer drew mixed emotions, positive vibes were unanimous with the older hits that brought them much success. With the clever use of the xylophone and the child-like manner of the tempo, “Ghost in the Valley” pleasantly provided me an image of going to the circus. “Home for the Holidays” was by far their most impressive song in my ears as well as eyes. The fact that the group seamlessly knocked this out of the park wasn’t what struck an emotional chord for me. The fact that the group’s stage presence escalated gave the suggestion that they knew they were in the zone and that was what had me convinced they have what it takes to make it to the next level. The perfect blend of instruments and vocals created a melody that took me out of the bustling city and into the comfortable suburbs of the lone star state where the only lights that come on are on Friday night (i.e.. high school football). As a huge Redskins fan, such an emotionally sentimental voyage had definitely been a venerable accomplishment and I give strong praise to The Wheeler Brothers on this piece.
There is no denying the talent of The Wheeler Brothers. They have the ability to play multiple instruments effectively and they bring a unique vibe with their mix of a number of musical genres. If they can find more direction and hone in on their newer pieces to provide the same rocked-out energy of their older pieces, then the sky is the limit. I have the upmost confidence that they will definitely flourish, and I do look forward to hearing more from The Wheeler