Josh Ritter was dressed in a paint splattered coverall with worn combat boots on his feet. His wide, bright smile served as a perfect display of his childlike excitement; his body was trembling with visible energy.

Ritter’s humble appearance didn’t allow him to go unnoticed. It didn’t take away from his phenomenal performance. It didn’t divide the attention of his fans.

The audience of D.C.’s 9:30 Club was completely engrossed in the American country/folk sound brought by Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band Feb. 23, hanging on his every word and reciprocating every tone and mood he presented.

The premier show to the group’s two-day D.C. stint alternated between intimate acoustic sets and powerful upbeat numbers, taking the eager audience on an emotional joy ride so intriguing that all bright cell phone screens were left begging for attention, effortlessly abandoned by every audience member in the sold out venue.

Bridget Law, fiddle and vocals for inde folk band, Elephant Revival. The band opened up for Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band at 9:30 club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)
Bridget Law, fiddle and vocals for inde folk band, Elephant Revival. The band opened up for Josh Ritter and The Royal City Band at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

The overall energy presented at the venue could be defined by pure and utter entrancement: whether it be referring to Ritter’s confidence in every note sung and played or his audience’s trance-like state when listening to his music. Some eyes were closed, many hands were raised and all bodies were swaying to every song.

Upon Ritter’s entrance to the stage, the crowd’s chatter instantly ceased; his mere presence withheld the power to silence each and every mouth, thought and distraction. All eyes were turned to him and every ear tuned to the frequency of his vocals.

The charisma Ritter presented on stage was comparable to that of classic rock legend Bruce Springsteen, as his persona of proud American country boy vividly screamed a “Born in the U.S.A.” vibe.

The relationship between him and the rest of Royal City Band was something exceptional with each member feeding off the others’ energy and enthusiasm.

Elephant Revival brought the smokiness and mystique of the Colorado mountains to 9:30 as the opening act of the show by infusing threads of humility, appreciation and inspiration into the delicate folk songs they played to their audience.

The group’s sound was inspired by music’s natural, simplistic state, yet their contemporary—almost Of Monsters and Men-esque—uniqueness brought with it a never-before-seen performance. It created harmonious images of mountainous wildlife, delicate imagery of rolling rivers and tranquil coexistence between the human race and nature.

Moreover, their creative use of acoustic instruments ranging from guitar, banjo, cello, fiddle, to a washboard and hand saw made for a unique performance.

The billowing musical winds of these two groups rolled long into the rain-stricken night, transforming listeners with a sense of tranquility and contentment, while baptizing them in the classic American dream.  

Featured Photo Credit: Singer and songwriter, Josh Ritter, performing to a sold out crowd at 9:30 Club. (Cassie Osvatics/Bloc Reporter)

Jordan Stovka is a freshman journalism major and can be reached at jstovka@icloud.com.

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