By: Margaret Corona

I’m not sure if it was the thrill of my first time photographing a concert, the fact that the crowd was such a blast to engage with or that both performances were stellar, but one thing is for sure: on Friday, April 21, Fruit Bats and their opener H.C. McEntire brought the house down at Boston’s Royale.

The performance began promptly at 7 p.m. with opener H.C. McEntire. The group had an amicable, tight-knit energy to them as they performed. McEntire’s voice reminded me of a combination of Dolly Parton’s southern twang and Norah Jones’ gentle acoustics. Following the show, I was lucky enough to meet McEntire and purchase their last handkerchief from the merchandise booth. She was extremely lovely and approachable and solidified my new-found appreciation for the band.

Following the ovation for H.C. McEntire and about 20 minutes of stage setup, out walked Fruit Bats. Led by Eric D. Johnson, this ‘97 Chicago-born band started off strong with title track “The Pet Parade” from their 2021 album titled — you guessed it! —“The Pet Parade.” You could very clearly capture the audience’s infatuation from the silent swaying and nodding along to the tune. Johnson and the band played 18 songs during their set, including some of their most famous works “When U Love Somebody” as song 12, “Humbug Mountain Song” as song 16, and “The Bottom of It” as their second encore song to close out the show.

“Humbug Mountain Song” was the first “Fruit Bats” song I ever heard way back in 2016, so hearing it live felt like such a full-circle moment — especially considering how lucky I was to photograph their show for WTBU. Although their live rendition of “Humbug Mountain Song” subbed the iconic banjo for an electric guitar, the audience was captivated all the same.

Not a single person in the audience seemed disengaged with the band’s performance. Friends and couples alike were dancing together in the outskirts of the venue with Pabst Blue Ribbons in hand, while those up front stared (rightfully so) googly-eyed at the performers. Most of all, I was both enthralled by and appreciative of the overall camaraderie of the audience. I met so many awesome people before, during and after the concert — all of them who agreed it was an incredible show. Those at the barricade were extremely compassionate toward one another and their space. I was pleasantly surprised by this, as I always feel like the closer you are to the stage, the more tumultuous the energy becomes. But not here! “M.C. McEntire” and “Fruit Bats” clearly draw a wicked fun and respectful crowd!

All in all, I can say with certainty this show was the most fun I’ve had at a concert in a long time. I want to shout out and thank those whom I met at the photo pit — including the photographers and all those standing right behind us — as they were so friendly and supportive throughout the evening!

I strongly urge you to check out the works of both “M.C. McEntire” and “Fruit Bats” if you have not done so already. I hope (and bet) you’ll find them as awesome as I do.

For those interested in exploring the work of “H.C. McEntire,” I suggest starting with: “Shadows,” “‘Til I Get It Right,” and “New View.” 

For those interested in exploring the work of “Fruit Bats,” I suggest starting with: “Rushin’ River Valley,” “Ocean,” and “The Pet Parade.”