Local Southern rock band Atlas Road Crew returns to the Music Farm this weekend with a head full of fresh perspectives after touring across Europe for six weeks.
The trip, which started in late January in France and ended in early March in Belgium, was a whirlwind of first experiences for the five guys in their mid-20s, bassist Max Becker said.
Not only was it the band’s first overseas tour, it was the longest and most intense tour yet with a schedule of 30 shows in 35 days, mostly in Germany and Spain. And some members had never even been out of the country, Becker said.
“It was definitely a test of our stamina,” he said.
Atlas Road Crew got together five years ago in Columbia and relocated to Charleston a year later. Most of their out-of-town gigs so far have focused on the Southeastern circuit, an obvious choice for a twangy, guitar-forward rock group.
So when they showed up to play halfway across the world for crowds that didn’t even speak English, they were pretty stunned to see venues packed with eager listeners.
“We were going in there thinking we’re going to be background music, maybe there will be 20 to 30 people in the crowd,” Becker said. “But for the first three weeks, we packed out almost every show. The crowds were big. They were attentive and nobody talked while we played. It felt nice to know they were there to listen to the music.”
He added that they rarely see such an overwhelmingly involved crowd, even back home where people actually can sing along to their music.
“Here ... you’ve got the first half of the crowd into it, singing and dancing, and then the back half is socializing and drinking and whatever. Over there ... They all just sit there and they watch you,” he said. “It kind of blew my mind how well we were received.”
At the same time, the band was reshaping its concept of life on the road. They had a tour manager on board for the first time in Europe, who pushed them to perform at their absolute best no matter where they were playing.
“It was the first time we had ever had someone telling us to tie up our loose ends, whether it was being kind of lazy on stage, or being too tired from being out late the night before,” Becker said. “We definitely gained a better sense of professionalism and discipline.”
Now that they’re back in the states, the band is slowing down the tour for the time being. They’ll play the Music Farm on Friday, followed by a handful of gigs in Georgia and North Carolina over the next few weekends.
But Atlas Road Crew has a busy year ahead. The group is in the process of writing new music for a follow-up album to the debut record, “Halfway to Hopkins,” released last year.
Becker said they hope to land a record deal this time around, and they have already planned to meet with a few label executives.
“Fall is our tentative studio time frame, and hopefully we’ll have some singles coming out by the end of the year,” he said.
The band plays with opening act Morgan’s Road of Charleston at 9 p.m. Friday at 32 Ann St. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. $5 student tickets will be available at the box office. For more information, visit www.musicfarm.com.
Now that spring is in the air again, local bluegrass group The Bushels is returning to the courtyard at Edmund’s Oast on Tuesday for its second bi-weekly concert series.
The restaurant in the upper peninsula started booking the band around the same time last year for a weekly performance on Tuesdays in its spacious outdoor area. The band will play half as often this season, on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month from 6-9 p.m.
The Bushels is a favorite among local bluegrass fans for its variety of folk, country, Americana and even a dash of jazz. Members Whitt Algar, Jim Algar, Mal Jones and Guilds Hollowell have put out two studio albums in the past five years, spawning one of their most popular country folk songs, “Everytime.”
The outdoor performances are free to attend. For more information, visit Edmundsoast.com/events.
Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail.