Underneath strings of lights and neon signs, June 22, Texas country music shook the walls of the Cheatham Street Warehouse.
At 9 p.m., an old jukebox began to play country music and students sipped beer while playing pool in the back of the bar. Lively merchandise was on sale near the front door.
The atmosphere was cheerful. Families and friends were in good spirits as Mason Lively’s opener, Canaan Bryce, took the stage. The rich sound of his guitar reverberated across the floorboards as the solo artist warmed the crowd up. His gritty voice sang about San Marcos and life as a young man falling in and out of love.
At 10:30 p.m., Mason Lively and his band opened with a powerful country rock song. Lively’s clear, crisp voice was accompanied by a great band. The chemistry between the musicians was palpable, creating an intense stage presence.
During the second song, Lively proved his musical ability. He played guitar, sang and played a harmonica that was positioned around his neck, Bob Dylan style. His voice was the prominent factor throughout the show. It held wisdom beyond his 20 years of life. No one would expect that voice was coming from the fresh-faced boy on center stage.
As one song flowed into the next, the band’s sound became apparent. Each song was different from the next. One focused on the electric guitar, reminiscent of Brad Paisley’s country music. The next was a heavier rock style with a strong bass and drums. Lively included slower, acoustic, lyric-heavy songs.
The show ran through the songs from Stronger Ties. In the second half, he introduced covers of Bill Withers and John Mayer. All songs included a cohesiveness that seemed impossible due to the variety of songs performed.
Lively said while writing the songs for the album, he noticed how different they were.
“When recording (the songs) we kind of just went where the song was taking us,” Lively said. “It’s a blend and we like catering to people who have different music tastes.”
Lively paused between songs only to gear up for the next. He merely introduced the next song, wasting no time chatting to the crowd. His lack of conversation and stage banter removed him from the audience. He appeared only as a musician, not a human with a life and story to tell. If he had joked around between songs, introduced back stories and spoken directly to the audience more, it may have solved that problem.
The variety of songs kept the audience involved and attentive. The upbeat songs called for a dance floor packed with couples of all ages, two stepping and twirling merrily. College girls danced clumsily together, older couples expertly maneuvered the floor and young couples chatted over their simpler movements. It was clear Lively’s music was making the audience feel something.
Lively proved to have great songwriting ability. Lively’s friend, Garrett Sparkman, agricultural business junior, said Lively’s writing skills have only improved through the years. He is proud of how much Lively has grown as an artist.
“I saw the passion and drive (Lively) developed into the words of his music over the years learning how to write,” Sparkman said.
Lively’s guitar player, Carson Popp, exercise and sports science junior, said Lively’s music is different from anyone else’s.
“He has that kind of music where when you hear it on the radio, you know exactly who it is,” Popp said.
Lively’s alternative country sound is edgy and full of life. While the music industry is an unpredictable tide, Lively’s rise and growth as an artist is inevitable.