Fulton Lee might be the only guy wearing dress shoes and suspenders that could be described as explosive- not in the sense of GWAR spraying pig’s blood on a crowd, but explosive in the way that Elvis was.
In fact, from the big hair to the girls screaming bloody murder in the front row, the whole performance was laced with subtle hints of The King. Along with his vintage fashion and musical style, Fulton’s stage presence was extremely powerful. He was performing to a crowd of about fifty people with an energy comparable to James Brown at the Apollo- and gave the impression that the show would’ve looked the same at either venue.
When we arrived at The Camel, The Talkies had just begun their opening set for the evening. Their music filled the air with sounds reminiscent of Pixies, but with the driving instrumental force of punk from the early 80’s. Their upbeat rhythms, grunge guitar, and simplistic melodies did a great job of getting the blood flowing throughout the room.
Following The Talkies was Chesterfield native singer-songwriter Ban Hatton. What energy his music lacked in comparison to the first act, he made up for with personality and heartfelt lyrics. His sound landed somewhere between acoustic rock and classic country, with a little bit of early 2000’s pop mixed into the timbre of his voice.
Before this concert, I’d never really delved into doo wop and rock from the fifties, but Fulton Lee’s performance inspired me enough to investigate an entire decade of music that had slipped through the cracks of my mind. The whole crowd erupted as the band broke into their song “Say”- and understandably so. The song is a perfectly catchy culmination of all the sounds Fulton uses to transport listeners back to a time where huge Cadillacs, poodle skirts, charming diners, and Jukeboxes dominated the visual landscape of America. Fulton Lee is a musical and stylistic throwback to an age before trippy synths, distorted guitars, and polyrhythmic arrangements littered the airwaves.
Although Fulton’s musical style can easily be linked to rock and soul from the 1950’s, his musical take on the era is completely original and relevant to some of the great music being made today. The clean guitar, synth and bass played off of one another in a fashion somewhere in a realm between Buddy Holly and Real Estate. Of all the live music that I’ve seen in person, his band’s performance is possibly the most flawless and sonically pleasing I’ve had the pleasure to witness. If the band made any musical errors, they were completely undetectable. Their execution of each and every song was incredibly professional and just flashy enough to keep the whole stage visually captivating, without taking any of the focus away from Fulton’s unique vocals and dance moves. If it weren’t for some slight feedback from the amps in between songs, I would’ve been suspicious of the whole set being prerecorded.
If you’re exclusively a fan of avant-garde indie rock, droning house music, or aggressive thrash metal, this music may not be your cup of tea, but for those looking for a good time and great music made for easy dancing and head bobbing, Look no further than Fulton Lee.
Words by Mitchell Paige, photo via Branden Wilson