Red Hot and Holy Shit! - Sarah & The Safe Word Shows Out at Halloween Ball
On the night of October 27th, much to the surprise of those in attendance at Unity North Atlanta, Kienan Dietrich appeared on top of the balcony overlooking a crowded sanctuary. With his guitar in hand, the lights created a silhouette and a moment that one might imagine can only be seen in movies. During the time of year when we are perhaps more cognizant of our darker nature, it was clear to me my sin was envy.
This moment perfectly captured the spirit of Sarah and The Safe Word’s Halloween Ball, the release show in support of their brand new EP Red Hot and Holy. The evening was most certainly a ball as concert-goers, dressed to the nines in either costumes or formal attire, socialized around the sanctuary while band members frantically ran around as performing musicians are known to do before they take the stage. The energy was obvious and it was clear that everyone was ready for this one to get going.
The Keepsake was the first featured act and they set the bar high with their post-hardcore stylings. Frontman Barry Shelton set the tone for what would be a night full of impressive lead singers, bringing a dynamic voice that could climb from clean to vicious. Every performance was strong, and the band’s new song “Ghosts” proved to be a personal favorite . Yurp's set was very guitar-oriented, as the lead guitarist made liberal use of pedal tone riffs, delay effects, and a flash of fancy picking serving as the cherry on top. The most notable takeaway was the singer’s voice, though, which at times resembled that of James Maynard Keenan. There was no noticeable straining of his voice as he soared above the heavy undercurrent of his bandmates. Following Yurp was Fable Cry, a band that I have seen a couple of times before. Out of all the bands that took the stage during the night, I must admit that Fable Cry may have had the most unique and outlandish approach to what they do. Lead singer and guitarist Zach Ferrin performed like a crazed ringmaster, his compelling voice teetering on the edge of hysterics, while his bandmates swung in and out of tempo changes at a dizzying and exciting rate. With both interesting tunes and a wild stage presence, Fable Cry was the perfect band to lead into Sarah and the Safe Word’s set.
Now I’ll admit that I’m no stranger to the Safe Word crew. I’ve met all of them before, performed and recorded music with several of them, and even heard a few of the songs on the new EP before they were ever released. So my expectations for the evening were quite high, knowing that they had really put in a great deal of time and energy into the EP. When they opened with the title track, “Red Hot and Holy”, I couldn’t help but hop out of my seat. They were tight, well-rehearsed, and clearly proud of how they were playing throughout the night. The evocative and confident Sarah Rose was all smiles, and the band fed off of her energy. Add in a touch of horns and backing vocals from every member and the crowd was all-in.
Most importantly, nobody was trying too hard to play a part just right, nail a particular riff, or move around in a certain way. Spooky props were involved at the beginning of the set and two young ladies employed makeshift waves during “Dead Girls Tell No Tales.” Sarah, Kienan, and Beth performed a rendition of “You’re The Kinda Guy I Like” in an endearing moment that featured all three performers sharing a good laugh. There was simply no pressure, which was quite refreshing as, often, bands tend to tighten up onstage and lose sight of the fact that nights like these are supposed to be enjoyed, even if you look silly doing it.
So when Kienan surprised the rest of us on the balcony, a rock god even for just a brief moment, I couldn’t help but think it was fitting. And when Sarah and The Safe Word can surprise their fan base and new listeners alike, the party may just be getting started.
Photo credit: Epic Photography Atlanta (Instagram: @epicphotoatl)