Arlo McKinley & Senora May 12.18.21

The Fox Theatre
Boulder, CO

Words by Martin Smith (
Photos by Melissa Evans (

Arlo McKinley and Senora May finished up this leg of their tour on Saturday night at Fox Theater in Boulder, CO. It was an intimate affair as many of the University of Colorado college students had already left town for the holidays, which allowed Arlo and Senora to interact with the crowd from the stage and play their songs to a fully captivated crowd. Senora has the voice of an angel and opened the show with some beautiful country songs. Arlo and his band headlined the night and had the crowd on an emotional roller coaster playing his sad country songs but also had the crowd dancing to his rock n’ roll covers and southern rock tunes.

Arlo McKinley has plenty of sad country songs and he played many of them but to the surprise of many he also incorporated a lot of rock n’ roll into the show. He started things off with “We We’re Alright”, “Don’t Need to Know” and “Whatever You Want” while he was nursing a couple of glasses of whiskey and a handful of Modelos he had laying around the stage. He mixed in some amazing covers including Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”, Motley Crue’s “Home Sweet Home”, Ryan Adams’ “September”, Allman Brothers’ “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”, and Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman.” A sweet moment came when he spoke about meeting John Prine and played one of his tunes. But one of the most touching moments came when he played Blaze Foley’s “If I Could Only Fly” as tribute to his mother who recently passed away. A fan could be heard saying “I wasn’t ready for that” so it’s not hard to understand why he sells merch that says “Arlo Made Me Cry.” He played a handful of new songs including “Back Home,” a song that will be on his highly anticipated album coming out next year.  And it wouldn’t be an Arlo McKinley show without some of his sad country songs like “Once Again”, “Walking Shoes”, “Wishing”, “Suicidal Saturday Night”, and the drug fueled “Bag of Pills.” He closed the show with “Die Midwestern” and a little jam session with the band that had everyone in the venue dancing and wanting more.

I have been a fan of Arlo McKinley for several years but this was the first time I had seen him perform. I went into the show expecting a night of beautiful and haunting sad folk/country songs and while he definitely delivered with the sad songs, I was pleasantly surprised by how well he was able to weave in some fun rock n’ roll tunes and some southern rock jams. There were some tears but also some dancing and laughter that made for a truly amazing night of music. It was one of the more perfect sets that I’ve seen.

Senora May opened the show with a solo country set that started with a handful of acoustic songs. She played her new holiday song “White Christmas” for which all of the proceeds from the single will go to tornado relief. In between songs she told stories about her family with her hippie mom and marine baby brother that somehow became a story about dead mice and cockfights. She talked about life on the road and took a jab at Kansas, their previous stop on the tour. As someone who grew up in Kansas I can relate to her desire to flee the sunflower state. She told stories of meeting her husband, Tyler Childers, and the early days when they would play shows for “four people, all which we knew.” She closed her set with “Country,” a protest song against the industrialization of the beautiful Kentucky countryside. I’m looking forward to more from her in the future.

The Fox Theater is a wonderful mid-size venue in the heart of the CU campus “on the hill.” The sound system and the lighting were amazing and the layout of the venue is perfect for an intimate show like this one was. The surrounding bars and restaurants were quiet for a Saturday night in a college town, as the students were already on winter break but that didn’t stop Arlo and Senora from putting on a phenomenal show that left every person in attendance blown-away.

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