I had been to Rhode Island before, but never Providence. Providence is an interesting little city, but also feels like a cute small town. Shawn and I circled the various streets after dinner, walking around as most of the stores were closed which was interesting. Providence seems to have this incredibly unique balance of being city and while feeling like a small town. The population is around 178,000, which is interesting because there are numerous colleges within the city, so there is a balance of youth and vibrance that keeps this city pushing itself to stay hip while maintaing a unique culture.
Shawn and I wondered around the mostly closed street fronts,. I was surprised that the town appeared to be shut down. Providence has this mix between being a small hip urban environment matched with being a small college town, much like a lot of the Northeast. We ended our wandering at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC). PPAC represents Providence so well, the venue has this classical yet hip vibe that set the tone for one of the best concerts I have ever seen.
Aaron Embry came to the stage with grace and "providence" as he stated. This harmonica/guitar playing musician lulled myself and the audience into this uniquely beautiful trance. Aaron has a great presence, and brings a unique opening tone for the concert. Aaron has worked with a wide variety of musicians ranging from Jane's Addiction, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, and Elliot Smith. This alt rocker guy has a bright personality that showed his beautiful gratitude and soul within his music.
Dawes took the stage next. My friend Shawn has seen the band seven times, but this band was incredibly new to me. Shawn and I listened to Dawes on the way up, and their lead singer Taylor Goldsmith has a voice that sounds like the Boss, Bruce Springsteen. The band also sounds like the Jackson Brown Band, which my friend Shawn said, and he also told me me that the band had performed with them before. Dawes has a harder edge rock that set the path for the electrifying Mumford and Sons. Matt Mumford came on stage to jam with Dawes, and the chemistry was flawless. This proved to be one of the of the greatest build ups by opening acts that I have ever seen.
Describing Mumford and Sons on stage is impossible, they gave me chills with every strum of their banjo and guitar, all of their voices hit notes that sent shivers down my spine, and they rocked the house. This was one of the shows I have ever seen. Their numbers ranged from a rock the house encore of The Cave and Little Lion Man to and beautiful version of Awake my Soul, and the most beautiful version of the quietly beautiful Timeshel. They also debuted new stuff from their new album. This incredible music set with the background of an incredible stage set up and light show combined proved to be one of the bands favorite performance venues, and allowed to create a great musical experience. Mumford and Sons, Dawes, and Aaron Embry combined with the charm of Providence provided an incredible concert and travel experience that will be tough to beat.