It’s been a big year for jangly pop-rock troubadour Fletcher C. Johnson. After releasing the excellent White Iris single “Messin’ Up My Mind,” he put out his folk-rock influenced LP Salutations. With all of these fantastic releases out in the airwaves, the former King Tuff band-mate was poised to excite at WestCo Café on Thursday. And with a brisk, infectious, danceable set, Fletcher C. Johnson and his three-piece backing band lit up the crowd and made for an incredible night.
The band’s 45-minute set was a perfect length to go through tracks from the two released studio albums—Salutations and 2010’s It Rained Something Wicked. The band never lingered on a song, instead choosing a set that never became static and literally kept the audience members on their toes.
Even before the band came onstage, there was a palpable sense of excitement in the audience. Without much of a delay, the band charged into the 2012 single “Messin’ Up My Mind.” The acoustics in WestCo Café were perfect for the song, as Johnson’s nasal voice cut through the jangling guitars and bass. Indeed, the start of the set was indicative of the night—perfectly danceable rock music that lit up the room.
The middle of the set, folk-influenced songs off of the Salutations LP, was a bit less energized than the rest, but it served as a nice contrast and a bit of a break in the excitement. Tracks like “Small Town” may not necessarily be danceable, but they are certainly engaging and thoughtful. It was a chance to let the lyrics do the talking rather than the catchy pop rhythms.
But the last few songs of the set energized once again, and it was a chance for Johnson and company to engage with the audience. After a rousing performance of “Happy Birthday,” Johnson turned to the crowd and asked if anyone had celebrated their own birthday recently, and with one person in the audience celebrating hir own at midnight, Johnson counted down the minutes. Playing a classic 1950s-style track got the audience members on their feet, and not a single person was still. “Thanksgiving,” one of the set’s final songs, was just as infectious and uniquely appropriate given the show’s timing in the academic schedule.
Just before the last song of the set, as the clock struck midnight, Johnson gave the audience—and one member in particular—one of the show’s highlights by serenading the formerly mentioned student with a personal “Happy Birthday.” But really, given the energy, infectiousness and likeability of Fletcher C. Johnson and his set, it might as well have been everyone’s birthday.