“Beers About Songs” has everything I like: Alcohol, music, stories about alcohol, dark breakup humor, alcohol and “X-Men” references.
I probably should not be the one to throw out the Rogue Fest superlatives, as I am but a learner and should defer to Master Donald. But I doubt you will find a better show than Ryan Adam Wells’ clever, raw, screaming folk hour. It was head-and-shoulders the best show I’ve seen in the last two Rogue Fests. The other Bees would likely have me shot if I used the “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry” cliché, but many audience members in Friday’s nearly full opening performance did exactly that.
The show is short on gimmicks. It’s just Wells and his guitar – no instrument changes, no calls for audience participation, no special effects. With that guitar and a voice that veers from a slight country twang to a powerfully emotive folk yell fit for a “Once” touring company, Wells lifts and batters his audience with tales of young love, alcoholism, abuse and college stupidity. His jokes – even the admittedly corny ones – hit their mark, but the songs elevated “Beers About Songs” to soaring heights.
The subject matter gets a little dark, but the show ends on an uplifting and positive note. Although Wells talks about beer and sex, the show remains appropriate – and maybe even important – for teenagers.
Wells has an interesting stage presence in that you don’t really know whether to invite him out for a pint mid-show or stare dumbstruck at his talent. I actually did see him at the bar after the show, while I was – preparing my diligently taken notes for this review. I chickened out. I hate bothering people – especially performers who just blew my mind.
I honestly can’t think of a single thing that went wrong, and that’s painful for a critic. This is the part where I like to find one tiny thing to nitpick about to prove I was objective and not just some groupie. But he didn’t flub a line. His voice didn’t crack as he nearly shook Mia Cuppa during his most powerful moments. Heck, I’ve played guitar for more than a decade, and that man hardly missed a note during his furious plucking.
Go. Run, don’t walk. Go now.
Beers About Songs
- March 5 8 p.m.; March 10 5 p.m. and March 11 3:30 p.m.
- Mia Cuppa Cafe. 620 E Olive Ave.