The Vapor venue at Saratoga Raceway and Casino in upstate New York is definitely a very unique environment to play a show at. Anytime a casino is involved with a concert, one can be sure to find an eclectic mix of fans, plenty of alcohol and a lot of people ready to have a good time, which is exactly what Parmalee encountered when they played at Vapor in May. Luckily, Parmalee, a burgeoning country band with an unmistakable rock edge knew exactly how to keep the party going and tame a spirited crowd of fans that was exuberant from the beginning of the show to the end.
The group, comprised of lead vocalist Matt Thomas, his brother Scott Thomas on the drums, their cousin Barry Knox on the bass, and Josh McSwain on the guitar, excels with a rock driven style, standout vocals and a sound that is both appealing and accessible to a wide range of listeners. Although they still have a small discography at this point (they have released one full length album since signing with the Stoney Creek division of Broken Bow Records in 2011) Parmalee has found balance with their debut 2013 album Feels Like Carolina a shrewd blend of hook driven, radio friendly songs, tracks that pack a lyrical punch and more than a few that check both of those boxes.
Because Parmalee was the only act to perform, the show was not a long one, but the group made the most of their time on stage with a versatile fun set. Vapor is not a large venue, but it was one with many cool features for fans and concertgoers. Outside of the general admission dance floor in front of the stage which was packed out when Parmalee took the stage, patrons had the opportunity to purchase VIP tickets for the upstairs area that provided a prime balcony view of the stage, private lounge and eating spaces and outdoor seating/gathering areas.
The band kicked off their set with the hard rocking “Bring The Music,” before heading into their fourth and current single “Already Calling You Mine,” a sweet and romantic song about a couple beginning a new relationship but already feeling really comfortable and relaxed together. “My Montgomery” is another track that delves pretty far into the southern rock side of things, and “Day Drinking” was a laid back party jam that fans related instantly. Meanwhile, “Back In The Day” is an infectious and nostalgic track detailing all of the good memories the group had of while growing up, from drag racing on small town streets, high school football games, and lakeside fun to falling in love for the first time. Midway through their set Parmalee performed an extended cover of Bob Seger’s classic “Night Moves,” which ended up being one of the most memorable moments of the night. Other notable covers included in the band’s set were “Midnight Rider,” by The Allman Brothers, and Marvin Gaye’s “Lets Get It On,” which followed each band member taking a shot on stage to honor and remember legendary musician BB King who had recently passed away. Parmalee also performed a humorous parody of Miley Cyrus’s song “Wrecking Ball” titled “Fireball,” after the infamous fireball whiskey that showed off their playful side, and got a big laugh from the crowd, while their own party song “Dance” had fans on their feet doing just that.
Also included in their set were popular tracks like the groups first single that put them on the map at country radio “Musta Had a Good Time” a song that details a wild party gone south, and top five single “Close Your Eyes,” a catchy, hook, driven, uptempo love song. Parmalee closed the show with their first #1 and biggest hit to date, “Carolina,” a romantic, mid-tempo track about a couple missing each other while struggling with separation and distance as one of them is out on the road. The track is bolstered by the warmth Matt Thomas brings to the song’s vocals, sweet, relatable lyrics and a killer hook that had fans singing along excitedly one last time.
On this night it was abundantly clear that Parmalee is one of the more promising up-and-coming acts in country music. The group combines their radio friendly, rock-tinged sound with the talent and charisma to put on a great show in any setting, a winning combination for any band or artist. New York country music fans can look forward to seeing Parmalee live once again when they return to NY in September for the Salute To Heroes show with Eric Paslay and Brothers Osborne at the Pennysaver Amphitheater on Long Island.