From a festival to Bowling Green’s stage: Susto delivers stellar performance

By Jack Quinn

Susto is a five piece American indie rock band from Charleston, South Carolina. They have been making music and touring since 2014. 

I first saw Susto at Railbird Music Festival in Lexington last August. I had not heard much about this band but was instantly a fan after seeing them live.

So a month later, when I heard they were playing in Bowling Green, I had to go.

The setting for these two shows couldn’t have been more different. At Railbird, they were performing on a large festival stage early in the day, so the crowd was rather scattered across the festival grounds, but that didn’t stop the band from delivering an energetic and emotional performance. This was a rather large festival with full stage crew and a high-end professional sound system, so it is no doubt that the band was able to provide a full sound.

Each instrument was distinct and clear, and the band as a whole maintained an even volume and quality tone. But between the short festival style set length and the large outdoor venue, there was something missing.

 I was happy yet surprised to see that Susto was stopping in Bowling Green on their headlining national tour, especially because they were playing a venue I had never heard of with support from another band I had never heard of.

After arriving at the venue I quickly realized why I had never heard of it. It seemed to be more for wedding receptions, with lots of tables and chairs set up with a small makeshift sound board and a small bar. This venue was a far cry from the large festival stage, and I had low expectations for the quality of the performance.

The band was faced with all the usual challenges of playing a small town: small venue, low turn out and amateur set up, but once again, they arose to the challenge and delivered one of the best live performances I have seen in years. Something about the tightness of the space allowed for the sound to fill the room and create a warm tone. The keyboardist created beautifully auroral textures that were absent at their Railbird performance but shined in this small room. The guitars were toneful and they made great use of distortion that, when standing close to the stage, I could almost feel. The bass perfectly cut through the mix and provided a melodic rhythm, that was perfectly accompanied by the drums.

These various challenges that I originally thought would hold the band back subsequently made for a very intimate performance that allowed for an emotional connection between the audience and the band. 

After their encore the band were happily mingling with crowd members, showing a level of humility and character that is hard to find in most musicians today.