I went back to The Outpost this weekend to see Cereus Bright, accompanied by opening acts by Sawyer and Daniel Markham.
As I was making my way towards the stage, I noticed some of the more intricate designs of the venue. A large, hand painted mural covered the wall behind the bar and small tea lights were strung across the ceiling.
The venue transformed from its cozy coffeehouse feeling to a buzzing social scene as we approached the starting time. Concertgoers were packed all the way from touching the stage to lingering by the entrance as they anticipated the night’s show. The stage held a rack of five guitars and was set up to host a full band.
An employee of The Outpost warmly welcomed us to the show and asked that we take conversations outside of the venue so that we could better appreciate the songs being played for us. The crowd fell silent in anticipation for the night’s first act, Daniel Markham.
Markham, a native of Denton, Texas, opened the night with a peaceful set played delicately on his acoustic guitar. The crowd held its silence in awe of Markham’s gentle and unique songs.
“I like you, Knoxville,” Markham said after playing a few songs for us. He bantered with the crowd for a few minutes and continued his comforting set. After his set, audience members broke their silence as they awaited Sawyer.
Nashville-based duo Sawyer, took the stage dressed in coordinating outfits. Dancing as they played with small pieces of choreography, Sawyer electrified the stage and had the entire venue dancing along with them.
The duo told their story of starting out as songwriting majors at Belmont and songwriting in the service industry while waiting to breakthrough in the music industry. They smiled and laughed their way through a phenomenal set marked by their vibrant chemistry.
The band is comprised of Kel Taylor and Emma Harvey, and they brought their uniquely funky brand of indie pop to Knoxville to the great delight of everyone in attendance. Harvey played a sharp electric guitar to complement Taylor’s vocals. The instrumentation added a distinct brand to their music that set them apart from any other indie pop band I’ve ever heard.
Harvey and Taylor both had absorbing voices that brought life to their guitar duo, which would have been fascinating on its own. The two danced throughout their entire set, which inspired the crowd to follow along. With the entire venue jumping up and down and clapping along, Sawyer introduced their next song.
“We fully intend to dunk on our haters,” joked the band before launching into a remix of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name.”
Harvey and Taylor engaged the crowd in banter about getting bangs and following dreams in the music industry. They personalized one of their last songs to be about Knoxville. They danced their way off of the stage to an adoring crowd that had just sang along to many of their songs.
After a short break, Cereus Bright took the stage. Lead singer, Tyler Anthony, took center stage in a red suit detailed with twirling sequins. The crowd cheered heavily at his arrival and he laughed as he set up for his show.
“We’re all gonna have fun tonight,” Anthony said to an excited audience as he started his set with “Old Dog.” As Cereus Bright moved through their folk songs, the crowd danced and swayed along.
Anthony thanked the crowd for their support and stated that he had a lot of family in the audience to see him. Anthony’s large family burst into cheers to indicate their large presence and support.
Cereus Bright was created on a porch in Knoxville by Anthony and Evan Ford, and it has grown to be a popular and well-liked band. Anthony told the crowd that he has been playing in Knoxville for an amount of years that need not be admitted. The band moved into their song, “Chattanooga,” which was received by a crowd singing along to every word.
“You think you want a version of your life but sometimes you find out that wasn’t what you were looking for,” Anthony said between songs. Anthony played passionately, often bringing his entire body into playing the guitar with a recurring foot pop that he affectionately referred to as one of his dance moves.
“I’m just a normal guy; I’m trying to make music and be honest,” said Anthony as he introduced a song about realizing that his wife was the love of his life. Anthony told the crowd that we were listening to a lot of new songs that would soon be recorded.
Cereus Bright is comprised of a skilled drummer, Luke Bowers, who carried the beats and feelings of the folk songs to make them feel more like dance hits. Their keyboard player played a mix of ethereal synth sounds and funky background keys to add more soul to the band’s sound. To the right of Anthony was skilled electric guitar player, Jake Smith, who lit up the stage with his eccentric solos and intricate flavor of playing. The bassist, Matt Nelson, added depth the band’s sound with his skillful playing and rhythm.
“Thank you for being part of this journey. To have two nights like this is really meaningful,” said Anthony in appreciation for his double headliner in Knoxville. Both nights had a heavy turnout, and Friday’s show sold out by Wednesday.
As the night neared its end, Anthony spoke more about his journey and the future that the band hopes for their music and successes. The audience cheered enthusiastically at the promise of future music being recorded.
Cereus Bright ended the night by bringing Sawyer back on the stage to play “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac. Each act stayed long after the show to greet fans, sell merchandise and appreciate the thrilling experience of the night.
I went home with the set list, a new tee shirt and memories of one of the most fun nights I’ve had in my life. This is the kind of fun my dad told me to have when he dropped me off for college.