On the evening of Wednesday, September 26th, I ventured on a mini road trip to Revolution Live, a Live Nation venue, in Fort Lauderdale to see the young indie rock group Colony House. Natives of Franklin, Tennessee, a quaint town just outside Nashville, these boys grew up under the influence of blues, jazz, country, rock and Christian music, alike.
The four-piece band came together back in 2009 when each of the members were still in high school. At the time, the band went by the name “Caleb,” named for the lead singer. In 2013 the group – comprised of brothers Caleb Chapman (vocals) and Will Chapman (drums), as well as Scott Mills (guitar) and Parke Cottrell (bass) – switched their name to Colony House, the name of an apartment complex the four had lived in previously.
As is typical for most bands, their initial venues consisted of local bars, open-mic nights and church halls. Years of dedication, three EPs and two albums later, Colony House is now performing on nationwide tours in venues with a capacity of around 1,000 fans. It is the band’s alignment with their humble beginnings and small-town influences, however, that has resulted in a steadfast and dedicated fanbase.
“You can hear their roots in each of their songs, but they still experiment with different sounds and elements of other genres,” said Sarah Walsh, a 23-year-old fan from Hollywood, Florida. “I just think their sound is really original. They haven’t disappointed me yet!”
Walsh has been listening to Colony House ever since they released their debut album When I Was Younger in 2014 under Descendent Records, the label that also represents Brooklyn-born, Nashville-based folk trio The Lone Bellow. Surveying the crowd at their Revolution Live show, the vast majority of the audience is similar in looks and age to Walsh: young, suburban, hip and generally happy. These people were here for good music and it was clear even before the opening act or the band themselves came on stage that the concert was going to have a great, contagious energy.
As the house lights came down of the intimate, tightly-packed venue, Colony House walked on stage to the stadium-track “Rock and Roll” by glam rock icon Gary Glitter. Though Gary Glitter’s name and
By walking on stage to this song specifically, Colony House is pointedly telling listeners what kind of sound they can expect to hear.
Once situated and in their respective places, Colony House jumped right into “1234,” which comes off of their new album, which they were touring in support of, Only The Lonely. As fans may recognize from the title, Colony House’s album title pays direct homage to classic American singer-songwriter, Roy Orbinson. One can hear a constant theme in this new release by Colony House that stems directly from Orbinson’s multiple octave ranges and vulnerability in lyrics. Caleb Chapman, the lead singer of Colony House, shares a similar vocal range that closely aligns him with Orbinson’s distinct sound.
“1234” is a catchy tune that opens with a brief electric guitar riff that reappears multiple times throughout the song. The chorus of the song, however, consists of only loud drums and midrange vocals giving it a distinct sound separate from the rest of the song. The bridge, on the other hand features faint, yet distorted guitars, as well as subtle vocal harmonies.
Already, the energy was high-intensity and the whole crowd – both in the front row and above in the shabby balcony – were bouncing back and forth and swaying side to side. It’s no surprise that the same vibe continued into Colony House’s second number “Silhouettes,” easily the band’s most popular song, with over 19 million streams on Spotify alone.
The song is relatively fast paced, made so by the constant, yet subtle tambourine and consistent, driving percussion throughout. The electric guitar and bass guitar, especially, are muted in all parts except the bridge, in which the drums take the background and let the electric guitar shine for a bit. “Was It Me,” a less known song from their second album, came next and maintained this driving, fast-paced rhythm.
After three U2-like rock songs, Colony House decided to slow it down with their ballad “Learning How to Love,” a quiet song that explores the trials and difficulties discovered in building relationships. Like the emotions at play in relationships, the melody and volume slowly build througout. The lyrics of the song are extremely vulnerable, reflecting the sentiment of most singer-songwriters in the 1960s and ’70s. Similarly, the instrumentation is reflective of popular soft rock songs like Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” particularly the vocal harmonies and intimate sound. Some very minor distortion can be heard in the background, adding a unique element to the song’s overall soft rock, singer-songwriter style.
“Second Guessing Games” is a more upbeat song that features the call and response element commonly found in blues songs. The song also has instrumentation typical of the blues genre and was even performed with a standup bass by an unknown touring crew member who finally stepped on stage after the joking insistence of the lead singer. This scene left the crowd particularly peppy, resulting in cheers, a roaring round of applause and an eruption of laughter at the band’s overall quirkiness and energetic stage presence.
Following that song, guitarist Scott Mills stepped backstage briefly only to return with a beautiful Martin acoustic guitar – well suited for a song called “This Beautiful Life.” This song in particular boasts the band’s intimate relationship with Christian music. “This Beautiful Life” makes references to the Bible and Christianity that those familiar with the religion would most definitely recognize.
The second verse reads, “I go to the water to find innocence,” a reference to Baptism. It continues, “Breathe deep the air to fill my lungs, and beauty sings his songs to me. Every note I follow to find out where the voice is coming from.” This lyric touches on Caleb Chapman’s relationship to God through prayer. More generally, the song emphasizes the importance of living for more than what they would consider “surface level,” artificial happiness.
Elements typical of gospel are featured in this soft, delicate sounding lullaby. Harmonic background vocals are reminiscent of an angel-like gospel choir. The light strumming of the acoustic guitar is faint and just prominent enough to support the rich vocals of Caleb Chapman.
Colony House’s music frequently takes a Christian tone, though only in its slower, more hymn-like form, rather than upbeat Christian rock like Larry Norman’s “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?.” All of the band members were raised in a religious environment in suburban Tennessee. The Chapman brothers had an especially Christian upbringing, musically too, as their father, Steven Curtis Chapman, is a rather well-known and successful Christian singer, songwriter and record producer.
Coming out of this slower gospel song, was the more intense “Lonely.” The song opens with a strong stomp-and-clap beat that transitions into a loud drum beat and guitar riff reminiscent of heavy metal anthems like “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith or “Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones. A distorted and high-pitched electric guitar solo takes center stage about two thirds into the song, while the song closes out with a virtuosic style of guitar playing.
Colony House revisits their gospel roots only one song later with their more popular track from their first album, “Glorious.” Though the lyrics are not as explicitly religious as a few of the group’s other tracks, they most notably state that he (Caleb Chapman) is “no one on his own,” meaning he needs his relationship with God and Jesus to feel complete. The song builds in intensity – both in volume and heavier drums, percussion and mild virtuosic guitar – throughout the song.
The last few songs of the concert left fans on a more upbeat, dance-worthy note. “2:20” opens with an electrifying, head-banging riff that drives the short, quasi-interlude song. The band really shows off their instrumental talent in his heavy metal, riff-based song with distorted guitar, jam sessions, driving rhythm and gritty vocals.
A slight deviation – though one that surprisingly works incredibly well – from the rest of the band’s setlist and discography, “You Know It” was the closing song that Colony House performed at their Revolution Live concert. From the start, the song has a clear surf rock vibe to it thanks to the heavy reverbed electric guitar in a straight-eighths fast tempo, the tremolo picking and heavily layered harmonies, made famous by the Beach Boys.
All in all, Colony House put on a highly energetic show. The few songs during which the crowd wasn’t dancing, they were swaying side to side, sometimes with eyes shut, taking in the emotional richness of the band’s slower lullabies. This band is extremely well-rounded, emanating their staple goofy, happy-go-lucky personality, while also creating meaningful and genuine moments.
The show was sold out and everyone I spoke to at the concert was thrilled with the experience. The overarching consensus I gathered was this: Colony House is a relatable group of guys who people feel they can connect with and, despite being a nearly two-hour show, fans only wish they could have stayed to sing along and dance a little longer.