Smile Politely

Drew Cagle and the Reputation headlined a last-minute show at The Canopy Club

Four band members of Drew Cagle and the Reputation are performing live on a stage.
Derrick Philips

Sometimes there is opportunity in disappointment. Texas rocker Austin Meade had to cancel his show at The Canopy Club last Thursday, but that opened the door for slated opener, local rockers Drew Cagle and the Reputation to headline their first Canopy Club show, which will hopefully be their first of many. The folks who came out for a rock show were treated to three very talented, but very different, musical acts and certainly left on a high note after Cagle’s set.

Opener Joe Hermes sounded like a country artist if you listened to his recorded music, but as a performer Hermes adapted effortlessly to the rocker crowd and played his songs with a rocker attitude. His deep, booming voice reminded me of Brad Roberts, singer for Crash Test Dummies.  

Joe Hermes
Derrick Philips

Bloomington native Hermes was grateful to be back at The Canopy Club, and played songs about heartache, friendship, and finding his forever love, “Stronger Than Whiskey,” that had all of the elements of today’s popular country music. Toward the end of his set, someone in the crowd asked for a stomping song, and Hermes obliged for about a minute, which got the whole crowd clapping along.

The Canopy Club crowd witnessed a (potentially) historic moment as the second band took the stage announced they were no longer Spinner and the BELZ, but rather would now be known as The Spinning Suns, a decision that seemed to be made just about an hour before the show. Needless to say, they weren’t selling any merch. 

The Spinning Sons
Derrick Philips

Lead guitarist/vocalist Josh Spinner and his band played a fresh, upbeat style of pop music, but no one was complaining. Spinner and his young band also featured a saxophone player and keyboardist, whose musical contributions gave them a distinct sound, along with Spinner’s unique guitar arrangements. Even when Spinner sang a breakup song with the lyrics “I feel like my life is orchestrated,” the music moved along at a snappy pace and had an upbeat sound. The Spinning Suns have math rock skills, but play a brand of pop that’s highly accessible. They even did their own rendition of “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” that I think Otis Redding would be proud of. 

By the time Drew Cagle and the Reputation took the stage for their headlining set, the small but enthusiastic Thursday night crowd was ready, and Cagle and his bandmates delivered. The band took the stage in a whirlwind, using every single inch of the stage as they belted out “Bad Attitude.” Ripping into their next song, “Ghosts,” the band treated the stage like it was 100 feet wide, running back and forth to establish they were here to rock this crowd.

Drew Cagle, lead singer of Drew Cagle and the Reptutation
Derrick Philips

Cagle, while young, embodies all the qualities of a great hard rock singer. He spins the mic stand and swings his head back to look at the stage lights when he’s belting out a long note. He oozes rock and roll spirit as he leans up against his guitar player or puts his foot up on the monitor to sing right to the crowd.

During their fourth song, “Live Right,” Cagle’s vocals hit notes reminiscent of a young Vince Neil (let me emphasize “young”, if you haven’t heard Neil lately). He seems to channel the vocalists from the 80s era of metal bands with his voice, but through their music you can hear rock music influences from all eras and even sub-genres.

The band’s setlist was filled with songs of their debut album, Haunted, including their more popular songs like “Back to the Light” and “4:15 to Denver,” but also regaled the crowd with some very interesting cover tunes like “Lit Up” by Buckcherry, “Ain’t no Rest for the Wicked” by Cage the Elephant and even “Kiwi” by Harry Styles. 

The rest of their setlist was new material that shows a definite maturity, and a conscious effort by the band to spread their wings musically. Songs like “If it’s Not Love” and “You Think You’ve Heard of Everything” showed that maturity in the lyrics and arrangements, and gets me excited about what this young rock band might do next.

With the original show being canceled, The Canopy Club didn’t have to give Cagle, his band and the openers the opportunity to play their original music, but they did and all of the bands were vocally appreciative of the chance. Cagle even thanked the opening bands for playing on such short notice, and commented how he was grateful to see two bands play that he was a fan of as well. Nights like tonight give me hope that rock and roll is still alive, and that the next generation is capable of keeping the spirit alive and growing it’s appeal again, especially within the Champaign-Urbana music scene. Drew Cagle and the Reputation have some very impressive opening slot gigs coming up, but I anticipate they will be headlining stages around the area, and around the country soon.

Music Editor

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