in performance: mic harrison and the high score

mic harrison.

This is more of a snapshot glimpse of last night’s very satisfying performance by Mic Harrison and the High Score at the Green Lantern than a complete review. That’s because the absence of opening act Fancytramp (well, let’s coin the term “much delayed” Fancytramp, instead; the Nashville band eventually showed up to play, after some road delays, around midnight) threw the Knoxville headliners onstage nearly an hour ahead of schedule. While a wonderfully intimate and inviting venue, the Green Lantern isn’t exactly known for early shows, so the turnout was, to be polite, modest.

As such, we arrived well into Harrison’s set. Sadly, that barely threw the audience attendance into double digits. But the turnout and showtime adjustment didn’t faze Harrison in the slightest. A honestly jubilant but no frills performer, he and the equally energetic High Score band ripped through tunes full of rich country soul dressed with functional yet highly inventive guitar fabrics.

Songs like No Regrets had Harrison revisiting his power-pop days with the V-Roys (the Knoxville unit that was a regular in local clubs during the late ‘90s). But Leo Johnson and Wiser the Whiskey succinctly reflected the High Score’s stylistic duality. The former, sung by guitarist Robbie Tropser, was all punkish frenzy – a loud, crackling blast of ageless rock vitality. The latter, which closed the show, was like a last round – a thick, sweaty serving of guitar drenched honky tonk. And placing Harrison’s generational inspirations even further in perspective (influences that nicely informed the portion of the show we got to witness) was a loose, fun cover of Bob Seger’s Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.

Fueling all of this was a novel three guitar lineup that avoided the standard vocabulary of power chords and off-the-shelf jams in favor of melody and rhythm. But when lead guitarist Trosper shot off one of his scorched, whammy bar-induced solos – breaks which regularly recalled the roar of guitar great Adrian Belew- this efficiently rocking honky tonk-and-more troupe turned compellingly wild and artful.

That more people weren’t there to witness it all – with or without the scheduling adjustments – was plenty dispiriting.

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