Riley Downing & Kassi Valazza 10.12.21

Globe Hall
Denver, CO

Words by Martin Smith
Photos by Melissa Evans

Tuesday night’s show at Globe Hall in Denver had the crowd slow dancing and two-stepping to headliner Riley Downing’s country-soul sounds and show opener Kassi Valazza’s stripped down solo acoustic set. It was an intimate affair on a weekday night and most of the guests got there early so they could enjoy some of Globe’s delicious BBQ and Nashville hot wings, which interestingly paired well with the styles of the night's performers.

Riley Downing looks more like a dude you would sit next to in a Kansas City dive bar, rather than see performing live on stage, wearing his signature white Royals hat, work boots and Carhart. His not-so-unique-unique look is the perfect accompaniment to his one-of-a-kind sound that has its roots in country music and soul but also throws in a little blues and that New Orleans street music spirit. His extremely deep baritone voice and deliberately slow and methodical cadence is one of a kind and will make you want to grab a partner to waltz around the room with. He brought his backing band with him, about which he joked they hadn’t officially come up with a name for, consisting of keys, drums, bass, and lead guitar. Riley played the acoustic guitar that he apparently borrowed from Kassi.

They opened the set with “Coleman Rose” from his first solo album, Start it Over, which was released earlier this year. When they got to “Deep Breath” he joked that it was a favorite of Colordans but he wasn’t sure why because it's not a “weed song, but maybe it could be.” He told stories about growing up in a small town in Missouri and gave a shout out to the fans rocking KC Royals’ hats. Riley and his band had the crowd swaying and dancing as they played other favorites from his debut album including “Start it Over” and “Won’t Somebody Play.” They even played a song from Riley’s old band, The Deslondes.

Kassi Valazza definitely made some new fans when she opened the show. Her intoxicating voice was front and center hypnotizing the crowd as she was only accompanied on stage by her acoustic guitar. Her solo set has a much different feel than when she has her band, which has an almost gothic americana vibe. Kassi solo has a little bit of that Joni Mitchell sound with a touch of Lana Del Ray. Her 60’s folk look: bell bottoms, pink sweater, and corduroy jacket, along with her sound that night felt like being transported back in time.

Riley and Kassi put on amazing performances that complemented each other well. The size of The Globe Theater allowed them to really connect with the crowd both from the stage and before and after the show. This is one of the best venues to get up close and personal with your favorite acts while enjoying amazing music, good BBQ and some tasty cocktails.

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