Whether it's a hockey arena or a small club, Ty Taylor knows how to work a room, as he demonstrated again on Friday night at Stage AE.
The CMU grad who fronts Vintage Trouble brought the LA band back to Pittsburgh after having won over The Who crowd cold at Consol in November. This was a chance to get up close -- or even up on stage, as as two dancing fans did early in the set.
"These ladies are the example of how to party!" Taylor said.
VT didn't get a huge return on The Who show on a wintry night in March. There may have been 150 people in the frontroom Club at Stage AE, but he rocked them, like Otis Day at the frat party. As a theater major who grow up with vintage R&B, Taylor has soul to burn and charisma to match, channeling the likes of James Brown, Jackie Wilson and, yes, Tina Turner.
The three musicians behind him can deliver the jolting funk of the Famous Flames, the garage-rock fury of the White Stripes or the heavy blues thunder of Zeppelin. The band's signature song, "Blues Hand Me Down," postively sizzled; Ike and Tina's "Baby Get It On" had Taylor holding court on top of the bar (likely a first at AE); and "Run Outta You" was a launch pad for Nalle Colt to unleash one of the fiercest blues guitar solos that will be played here all year.
The songs, most of which came from the band's 2010 debut, aren't always vintage level -- how could they be? -- so there were some lags in the set where it felt like typical bar-band stuff and places where the songs were drawn out too long ("Jezzebella" and "You Better Believe It"). Taylor likes to push every song to the limit, where sometimes, like on the half-chill ballad "Nobody Told Me," you wish for understated.
Vintage Trouble has already done some work on the follow-up album, so the next time we see them, we should get a fresh set. Let's hope the songwriting shines, because Taylor and company are too talented, too seasoned and too thrilling to go unnoticed.