When an act comes through town with plans to stop at the Raccoon Motel, it’s usually wise to expect a performance well worth the cost of admission. When one of those acts commits multiple nights, you know it isn’t a show to miss, which was surely the case this past weekend. Matthew Logan Vasquez is not a stranger to this scene, and I had the opportunity to catch and capture a set of his at Codfish Hollow during the last GARP fest. I was excited to see him perform again, this time in a different space.
The Raccoon has this welcome warmth to it, countering the frigid air we all had to push through Friday night before we could push ourselves through the doors and into the comfort that comes from ending the workweek awash in the allure of live music. The variety of acts that come through these doors matches the shifting/building wall decor, keeping each visit fresh and engaging yet still presenting an undeniable feeling of familiarity.
As expected, the Raccoon was buzzing when I arrived, and Warmtapes (David Utt) was already on stage, captivating the crowd as he sang into a microphone held in a stand adorned with Orange Lillies. I was new to David’s music, as I am sure plenty in the crowd were as well, but fans were made with each line spilling through the speakers and filling the otherwise silent stretches of a room covered in Bud and Marlboro ornamentation. I’m always impressed by the general attitude of the crowds which fill this recently renewed Davenport “institution”. There’s an undeniable level of respect both for the artists on stage and the others in attendance. Perhaps this is partially a response of sorts to the way the past two years have shown us how quickly such an entertainment-filled escape can be pulled completely from our lives, but this commitment to complimentary quiet is nothing new at these shows. There’s a certain magic to be discovered within the shared silence of public spaces, a camaraderie of sorts that rises when we feel we are fully experiencing a situation in ways that extend beyond ourselves.
Once Matthew and his band cut through the neon-illuminated curtain covering the doorway concealing the halls behind the stage, and they ripped into their first song, it was clear they had command of this stage and the crowd looking up onto it. With all in attendance completely focused on the stage, the Delta Spirit frontman and his bandmates brought a palpable energy to the room that I’m sure reverberated through the bodies of those lucky enough to take in night one long after the final note was hit. Matthew Logan Vasquez’s show filled the crowd in a way that allowed for all to leave feeling a bit more alive than when they arrived.