Saturday, January 21, 2017
International Country music superstars Thompson Square brought their talents to North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, and the multi-platinum, Grammy-nominated music act showed an initially stoic crowd why they’re about to be the biggest country music act in the world.
The duo rocked their way through a rollicking set of foot-tappers that resembled an Aerosmith gig more than a Randy Travis hoedown. Equipped with a fired up band of talented young rockers, Keifer and Shawna started uprooting people from their seats after just a song or two. It seemed that much of the crowd was new to Thompson Square music and decided to come out on a chilly Midwestern evening, curious to see what this big country music sensation was all about. When the band emerged behind white spotlights that left shadowy figures roaming the stage, our featured couple made their entrance with the heavy rock vibe of their 2015 single “Trans Am”. The crowd sat stunned at the firepower of the duo. After Keifer spoke to the people and the vibrancy and warmth of his personality reached every seat, you started to see pockets of the crowd standing in appreciation. As the set went on with the band in top form, and Shawna piercing the air with her impressive vocal ability, a standing crowd was inevitable.
Being a person that is fairly new to Thompson Square music myself, I was overjoyed with the stage presence of this entire band. Everyone on the stage seemed to be in their happy place. Communication between each band member always came with a laugh or a smile. With Keifer and Shawna as the centerpiece on the floor, they were a beacon of light. Keifer delivered a warm confidence and humor while talking to the crowd and the love between him and Shawna made for an extremely cozy evening. The smiles all around gave way to excellent musicianship with Shawna’s booming vocals in the center of it all. Her voice came from somewhere deep inside, with every note passing through her heart on the way to the ears of this crowd.
A scheduled 75 minute set was stretched to almost 90 minutes, and it included more than just the hits. Sure we got “I Got You” and “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not,” which I knew was going to happen. It was the unexpected passages of the show that really lit things up for me. While introducing the band, each member chose to cover a few bars of a rock song that brought them into the spotlight for a few minutes. The guitar player chose AC/DC’s “Back In Black,” the bass player chose Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer,” and Keifer chose Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle”. You can call them country, but they definitely know how to bring the rock and roll.
The peak moment of this fabulous set came with a song called “Up In Smoke”. This is a deep song with a lot of rock tendencies and a crazy catchy hook. With some great stage lighting and a perfect blend of vocal harmony, this song quickly became a crowd favorite. Thompson Square ended up feeling like a friend by the end of the set, and they proved that a friend that makes you feel warm and fuzzy can still give you chill when they want to.