Nashville-based rock band Bluphoria graced Boston’s notorious nightclub, The Middle East Upstairs, on Thursday night for their New England debut. 22 dates into their lengthy co-headline tour with singer-songwriter Noah Vonne, the group appeared just as electrified as they would at the start of their tour. Despite grueling drives on the road, frontman Reign LaFreniere (23-year-old lead vocalist and lead guitarist), contained a buzzing energy that invigorated each song, while the band — Dakota Landrum (20-year-old rhythm guitarist and background vocalist), Rex Wolf (22-year-old bassist and background vocalist), and fill-in drummer Mia Roth (sitting in for Dani Janae) — kept up with equal fervor.
Opening their 12-track set with “Show It To Me,” a buzzy number that bounces with the crooning of each member on backup vocals, Bluphoria showcased their talent from the start. Following songs “Set Me Up,” “Believe In Love,” and “Pretty People” each exemplified a different side to the versatile band, displaying influences from psychedelic rock, to blues, and 60s stylings. The setlist consisted mainly of tunes from their self-titled debut album (released May 5 via EDGEOUT Records / UMe / UMG,) yet sprinkled in other offers to draw in fans.
One of the night’s standout moments was the slow burn of “Ain’t Got Me,” which LaFreniere notes as being one of the first songs he ever wrote for the band. Beginning as a stripped back ballad, the track steadily grows into frenzy of guitars, interesting chord progressions and a musical instinct that is far beyond their years. As if proving that point, LaFreniere effortlessly tossed his guitar behind his head in the later half of the song, playing his part from behind like a modern day Hendrix, then swapping for a face-first dive into his guitar.
Older cuts “You Got It” and “Kaleidoscope” provided tender moments, while newer material “Walk Through The Fire” and “Something More” brought back the infectious groove that Bluphoria have become known for. Lost in the music, each band member moved with ease and allowed their passion to shine through. Line “shaking at the knees” prompted LaFreniere to do just that, mimicking moves of “The King,” who would later come into play.
Incorporating two covers into their set, Kings of Leons’ “Sex On Fire” and Elvis Presley’s “Trouble” (introduced as a song by “a guy from Memphis that not many people know of”). LaFreniere embodied that same level of charisma, which illuminated much of their original material, delightful stage presence, and witty banter. Appealing to the Boston audience, mentions of Guinness and local seafare were a conversation point that of course drew smiles.
Smoothly transitioning into the grungy 90s-esque baseline of single “Columbia,” the atmosphere felt as if a switch had been flicked, and not just on their pedal boards. The band channeled a darker energy, fusing blues rhythms and the driving force of hard rock, laced with a grunge rock grit. When Music Existence recently spoke with LaFreniere, he noted the song as their collective favorite to perform live, due to its raucous energy and no-holds-barred approach. AKA, the reason they perform it last.
True to their word, the chorus erupted into a commanding force with vocals pulled straight from a place deep below. Landrum and Wolf transformed into enraptured forces, lost in the powerful cadence of the song. Reverberating throughout the small club, the set ended in a fury of sound and energy that nearly begged to be played again from the top, signifying the true infectious spirit of their music.
Upon signing with EDGEOUT / UME / UMG in January of 2021, the band entered into EDGEOUT’s “THE STUDIO,” a development program which focuses on the growth of young rock bands. Although on their first tour, their stage presence and enigmatic nature suggests that this experience clearly helped shape the group into confident and well-versed musicians. The dichotomy of skilled musicianship and banter hallmarked a band of friends clearly having fun with what they do, and with the serious dedication that will drive them forward into success. If this tour is any indicator, Bluphoria are a blossoming band with great promise.
Tickets for remaining dates of Bluphoria’s US tour can be found here.