On a relatively calm and cool Wednesday night at Analog at the Hutton Hotel, Nicole Boggs & the Reel had the crowd moving and singing along like it was a weekend night. The show was in celebration of their new album, Dystopian Book Club, which dropped August 1st.
The velvety curtains of Analog lit with deep purples, and candlelit orange flickers scattered the club-esque venue, making the audience feel as if they were part of an exclusive event.
The band was supported by openers Alicia Michilli and Craig Haller, whose clear-cut tone and creative cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” had the crowd amped up and ready to get down. During one of their final songs, Haller addressed the crowd discussing his journey as a musician, stating, “Music is like an escape, but for me it’s something I’m never able to escape.” That night, attentive listeners were looking for their mid-week escape, and they would not leave disappointed.
Nicole Boggs & the Reel took the stage soon after, and dove into a sultry opener that quickly won the crowd over. Wowing with their three-part-harmony they’ve developed a reputation for, the band seamlessly transitioned into their own shortened cover of “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks that featured lead guitarist Alex Kramer in his first epic guitar solo of the night.
Without pause, they dove into what I found to be a crowd favorite from their debut album, “Queen of the Dives,” a deceptively upbeat song about the dangers of alcoholism that lead singer Nicole Boggs wrote days before quitting the bottle in 2020. Despite the heavy theme, Boggs harmonized with her bandmates paired with catchy lines about “too many Casamigos,” which had the crowd bobbing and swaying along.
The group discussed finding inspiration for the album in the darker parts of quarantine during the pandemic, pointing to their music as their light during the harder times. Their performances of “No Good News,” and “Existential Blues” nodded to finding hope and connection in isolation, and wove their harmonies with effortless guitar solos that left the audience hollering.
My personal favorite performance of the night had to be “Hard to Love You,” as the band masterfully navigated key changes, making no note seem too difficult and effortlessly defying dynamics. With a crowd-engaging bridge, the group blew the room away with their collectiveness and musical chemistry.
While most of the songs performed were off of the new album, the group performed some unreleased songs that previewed what might be in store down the road. One of the songs, an acoustic ballad co-written with pianist Luke Davids, had the audience silent as Boggs serenaded the room with tales of vulnerability. The other unreleased songs involved stories of jealousy, anger, and yearning, leading me to believe the next album will be an impassioned one.
They concluded the performance with “Marina,” a piece about self-worth and individuality that featured a snippet of Avril Lavigne’s “Complicated” that got the whole audience involved. Boggs dedicated the song to the women in the room saying, “In a world that is consistently saying we are too much or too little, I want to tell you you don’t have to change a damn thing.”
Nicole Boggs & The Reel will be going on tour this fall with 15 shows scattered around the southeast, and having indulged in their release show, I can say it will be well worth the price of admission.