After sitting down this Saturday at Mojoes in Joliet, IL for an interview with Saving Abel’s new singer, Scotty Austin, and their guitarist, Scott Bartlett, Tammy and I were really excited to catch their set. There were a good number of local opening bands, and they all left us happily impressed. Blacklite District (bLd) was the main support for Saving Abel, and they put on a strong show. Saving Abel shared their drum set with bLd, allowing them to have the whole stage to entertain the crowd with. On a normal night, the singer of a band does most of the talking between songs, but Blacklite District guitarist, Kyle Pfeiffer, did most of the interacting with the crowd by joking around with them and introducing most of the songs. Before they played “With Me Now” the singer, Roman James, announced it had just been named in Sirius Octane’s top 10 best songs of 2013. The crowd got into it, singing along with the chorus, and Blacklight District left on a strong note ready for Saving Abel.
The crowd waited in anticipation for Saving Abel to come on stage, whispers circulating about the “new guy:” what he looked like, what his name was, whether or not he would sound like Jared. They opened with one of their faster-paced hit singles, “New Tattoo,” and the crowd seemed unsure of whether or not they should sing along. The vibe we felt from the audience was similar to that of a toddler who just got a new step-mom: very confused as to what they should be feeling. It seemed like they really wanted to not like him, but at the same time they had no good reason to not like him since he was putting on an incredible show. Yes, he definitely was not Jared, which may be why a handful of quick to judge people made a move they would soon regret by leaving and not giving Scotty a chance at all. But there is way more to a band than its front man alone, and everyone else in the crowd seemed to be true fans of Saving Abel as a whole instead of coming to only see and hear Jared. Throughout the night Scotty kept saying how grateful he was to be up there, thanking the audience for supporting them, and talking about how surreal everything was for him. After the initial shock of the new sound wore off, the crowd really started enjoying the show, feeding off Scotty’s intense energy and singing along to songs like “The Sex Is Good,” “Miss America” and “Bringing Down the Giant.”
Towards the end of their set, Scotty paused to say that he really wanted to introduce himself to the crowd, so the band left and he pulled out an acoustic guitar. He took a seat on a stool and opened up to the audience, telling us about how a few years back he was in a really bad way on some “serious shit.” We found out that a really good guy helped him get cleaned up and put into rehab, so Scotty named a song after him, “Larry and the Blue Dog,” AKA “Devil’s Ride.” After playing the heartfelt acoustic song, the band came back out, and Scotty kept the love going strong. He took a minute before playing “18 Days” to mention how soldiers have taken this song into their hearts, making it their own. Immediately after the song, the band brought the party back up by covering AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” while Scotty played guitar and Jason Null sang. Seeing the roles reversed made for an exciting change up, and you could tell by the smiles on stage that the band was having fun.
Actually, they seemed to be enjoying their selves up there all night with Scotty running around, hopping from one member to the next; at one point bassist Eric Taylor even started jokingly spanking Scotty as he was singing. A lot of people probably did not even see it happen, which just adds to the fact that the band was having a great time together, making you feel like Scotty had been a part of the band forever. After the cover, the band kept the energy high by playing the song most of the crowd seemed to be waiting for, “Addicted.” It ended up being a fun sing-along, with Scotty coming down to the audience to connect with them on another level. After he jumped back on the stage, they ended the night with “Drowning.” Scotty made sure to stay on the microphone and let everyone know he was planning on hanging out with them after the VIP meet and greet.
When the band walked off stage we felt like they had given the show their all, leaving no questions unanswered about who Saving Abel is now and will hopefully be for years to come. The sincere acoustic performance made the audience truly connect with Scotty, helping them to accept him as the new face of Saving Abel. Scotty gave an insane amount of energy throughout the entire set, and we could even see that when we looked through the shots Tammy had taken of them. Scotty rarely had both of his feet on the ground: at least one foot was midair in nearly every picture. We’re looking forward to the fans hearing their new single and having people everywhere fall in love with Saving Abel all over again.