The Square was electric Friday night with the gritty, Southern rock pouring out of The Weeks’ concert at The Lyric Oxford. From the first note of the band’s set, it was clear this concert would be one worth remembering. Opening with “Bottle Rocket” from their new album, “Easy,” The Weeks were back in their home state, and they assured the crowd this gig would be unforgettable.
With eyes rolled back and eyelids fluttering in sync with his hands, which were lifted over his head, lead singer Cyle Barnes was a sight to be seen as he belted out, “He lived his life like a levee breakin’ / Water rushin’ in.” It was like he was in a trance, moved by the music. It would not take long for his audience to feel the same way.
The pacing of the setlist kept the audience energized from beginning to end while ensuring no one would be tired out by the end of the show. The band alternated between fast, gut-punching songs, like “Brother in the Night” and “Bottle Rocket,” and reflective songs that called back to a slow, Southern lifestyle, such as “Hands on the Radio.” As song after song hit the crowd, stiff postures loosened and people began to sway to the music in an offbeat sort of fashion.
Everything about The Weeks’ performance screamed Mississippi in one way or another. Hailing from the Jackson area, The Weeks have the ability to speak to the heart of a Mississippian in ways many bands cannot. The fellowship and camaraderie Mississippi likes to claim were visible during their show as Cyle and his twin brother and the band’s drummer, Cain Barnes, played alongside each other during “Brother in the Night.”
The twins’ abilities came together with the chorus of the song, calling out, “If my Southern heart’s still pumping blood / Still pumping blood / Well, I’ll bury my money in the mighty Mississippi mud,” as each word was punctuated by the precise rap of a drum. In similar fashion, lead guitarist Samuel Williams and bassist Damien Bone had a lighthearted competition on stage right to see who could get the lowest to the ground while playing his instrument. Bone won.
The Weeks were not the only impressive talent of the night. Oxonian troupe Swear Tapes opened the night with an energy on par with that of The Weeks. It would be impossible to watch the performance of Swear Tapes and not be impressed by the abilities of frontman Jim Barrett.
To call Barrett talented would be an egregious understatement. He is able to manage the intricacies of playing lead guitar while also pulling off lead vocals, excelling at every riff and falsetto without complication. Barrett shares the same intoxicating quality Cyle Barnes has when he sings. As the audience watched these two lead singers get wrapped up in the music they were making, it became impossible to resist getting sucked in with them.
It is little moments like these that bring the music to life; it’s the electric look in the eyes of a passionate lead singer, the smirk shared among The Weeks’ members as they prepare for the crowd favorite “Buttons,” the jostle of the crowd swaying in sync and the discovery of a local gem. Most importantly, it is the homecoming of a band of Mississippians, singing to fellow Mississippians and helping them escape for a few hours with music that speaks to the heart.