Cory Wong at The Ritz in Raleigh, NC

When one crazy talented musician brings along a dozen of his crazy talented friends, it’s a must-see show for every lover of music.

The Ritz in Raleigh, NC was transformed into a musician’s paradise. Selling out earlier in the week, Cory Wong and opening act Trousdale delivered a master class with an awe-inspiring collection of musical talent. A huge number of people in the audience cited the people on stage as their inspiration for picking up an instrument and their musical heroes. The respect and admiration in the room transformed an amazing evening of performance into a heartfelt lifelong memory.

Opening act Trousdale is categorized as a folk/pop band and formed in 2014 at the University of Southern California. If Trousdale somehow became categorized as country and appeared on the radar of more radio stations and web searches, this band would be huge. Perhaps with the new upcoming album Trousdale announced during the show, Trousdale will break out and receive the popularity and praise this insanely talented band deserves.

Fronted by Quinn D’Andrea, Georgia Greene, and Lauren Jones, the harmonies, power, and beauty these three musicians created with their voices were world-class. They were captivating, exhilarating, and emotional. Their folk voices were a perfect three-part harmony that soothed in delicate tones before climaxing in a sort of power chord worthy of a raised fist and screaming applause. Trousdale’s pop songwriting was so catchy and worthy of comparisons to a Taylor Swift composition, everyone in the audience was dancing for the entirety of their set. Trousdale made it clear why they were chosen to open the evening. A truly inspiring performance.

When Cory Wong and his band appeared on stage, The Ritz erupted in excitement. Opening with big band flair, the band started funky and jammed out hard. Joining Cory Wong on stage included special guest Victor Wooten who interchanged roles with Sonny T on bass. Cory Wong introduced Victor with glee, calling it “his most favorite time of the show” as he welcomed Victor with a huge hug and a smile. Victor Wooten mesmerized as he traversed between popping, fretboard-tapping, and bending strings into totally unexpected tones that left the audience gasping in awe.

Unknown prior to the show, surprise guest Eric Gales joined the band for several songs. Eric Gales is a local to Raleigh, NC and spoke for several minutes about the admiration he had for members of the band. Cory Wong stood behind Eric during his performance and was clearly enjoying Eric’s performance just as much as the audience. Eric Gales is an electrifying performer who must have ten fingers on each hand to be able to play as quickly and accurately as he can. 

To round out the set, Trousdale joined Cory Wong and the band. With the addition of Trousdale, songs such as “Golden” and “Crisis” were able to be performed for the first time on tour, said Cory Wong. At times, Trousdale sounded so good they took the spotlight and raised the bar on Cory Wong and the band, which, of course, the band met and created slack-jawed awe in all 1,400 people in attendance. Their sounds blended perfectly and each song exploded with life. While the recorded version of “Crisis” with artist Big Wild is fantastic, the three-part harmony and power of Trousdale blew the recorded version away.

In between the main show and encore, Cory Wong and the entirety of his band plus Trousdale gave a “press conference,” during which audience members could ask anything. Whether it was a request for an autograph, a guitar pick, or a question to Sonny T about recording with Prince, every question began with a variation of, “You are the reason I picked up an instrument; You are my hero.” Cory Wong clearly knew his audience doesn’t only come to watch his band play, they also came to admire and learn. Stopping the show and engaging with the audience like this without barriers or ego for almost fifteen minutes was unprecedented.

The most amazing aspect of this evening’s performance was not the individual musicianship displayed by every member of each band, but rather the sense of “band” over “musicians.” Every member of Cory’s band had multiple solos during which everyone on stage leaned in and celebrated like it was the best solo they had ever heard. Even Cory Wong made himself a member of the band, the band wasn’t there just to back him up as he basked in the spotlight. Like big bands of yesterday, everyone including Cory wore matching outfits and toasted each other’s excellence with smiles, laughter, and obvious friendship. 

The only way to sum up this evening’s performance is if you are a musician of any sort, this is a must-see show. Cory Wong and Trousdale are undeniable talents individually, but when they perform together it’s so good it’s borderline illegal.

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About Mike Paquin 26 Articles
Mike is an enthusiast photographer in the Raleigh, NC area with a specialization in live sports, music, and street photography.