Home Free - "Dive Bar Saints"

Home Free appeared Saturday at Sandy Amphitheater.

There’s nothing quite like a reality vocal competition to draw in the fans, with favorites like “American Idol,” “The Voice” and “The Masked Singer” showing just how much devotion America has to offer those with any musical abilities.

Though all along the same vein, each new musical reality show has something special to offer, with NBC’s “The Sing-Off” giving fans plenty to love as they watched group after group making incredible music strictly with their mouths.

Host Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees certainly tipped the celebrity interest scale with judges Ben Folds, Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men) and, at varying points, Nicole Scherzinger, Sara Bareilles and Jewel offering their input and giving a not only national, but international stage to competing groups, including Season 3 winners Pentatonix and Season 4 all-stars Home Free.

“It’s been one surreal moment after the other in a career with this band,” said Home Free bass singer and songwriter Tim Foust of the group’s nearly two-decade career. “What folks don’t realize is we were touring full-time and supporting our families before we appeared on ‘The Sing-Off,’ though we were more regionalized in the Midwestern United States. ‘The Sing-Off’ shined an international spotlight on us and we just ran with that. To go from touring mostly within the Midwest to being able to tour all over the world is unbelievable, and to be sharing the stage with some country music icons is really, really crazy and wonderful.”

Aside from just utilizing vocal mastery to create percussive beats and beautiful music, Home Free also sets itself apart by being, according to Foust, the “world’s first all-vocal country band.” The unique moniker and musical style has, since “The Sing-Off,” earned the group fans not just in the Midwest, but across the United States and even the world, the most devoted of which are deemed Home Free’s Home Fries. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that many such fans were in attendance at the group’s show at Sandy Amphitheater on Saturday night, including some who had made the trek from the group’s Richfield show the night before.

“Well, this is becoming a nice little tradition isn’t it?” Foust said, following the group’s strong opening rendition of Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway,” making note of the fact that Home Free hit the same stage in Sandy just a year ago and came back as one of the most requested return guests.

The appearance was a part of the group’s unique summer tour, which comes just weeks before its highly anticipated album, “Dive Bar Saints,” is set to release.

Fans certainly got a taste of what to expect from the new release, which features largely original songs rather than covers, with songs such as “Leave This Town,” “Dive Bar Saints” and “Dreamer” from the upcoming album making the concert’s setlist.

That’s not to say some of the group’s most popular covers didn’t make it to the stage, though, with “My Church” by Maren Morris, “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran and “Elvira” by the Oak Ridge Boys, just as examples.

“Timeless” and “Try Everything” drove the crowd to its feet toward the end of the first set of the evening, with “God Bless the USA” and an encore of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” sending out the show on the perfect note since, as Foust noted during the concert, “All good things must come to an end.”

The concert truly did come across as a party and celebration of sorts, with fans of all ages, backgrounds and even levels of affinity for traditional country fare coming together to celebrate with a band that knows better than most others how to cater to its strong and adoring fanbase.

Many in the audience had to wipe their chins off the floor following Adam Rupp’s extended and wildly impressive beatboxing solo that not only showed how incredible his vocal range could be but also just what an insane variety of sounds can improbably come from the human mouth. It was not only captivating but mesmerizing, and certainly riled the crowd up before the group’s take on Blake Shelton’s “Hillbilly Bone.”

As the crowd united for the final numbers, the band offered a reminder that regardless of differences, there’s always more that unites people than divides, sharing “We wholeheartedly believe if you chose any two beings from any part of the world they will have more in common than different,” before inviting the audience to take a moment to get to know each other, people who obviously “share the same great taste in music.”

As the sun disappeared behind the horizon and hundreds of fans headed to their homes, others still lingered in line for the chance to meet their musical idols, with Home Free taking time to great guests individually before making the return to Nashville.

Though I’ve never been a lover of country music, it’s safe to say there’s something about Home Free, and it’s not at all surprising to me the support they’ve garnered through the years. It’s certainly well-earned by some incredibly talented and genuine gentlemen.

Kari Kenner manages and creates digital features and niche content for the Daily Herald.

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