Show Recap – Ruston Kelly @ Richmond Music Hall (October 30, 2019)

Ruston Kelly & Donovan Woods @ Richmond Music Hall


Opened by deep roots and indie folk artist, Donovan Woods, and keyboardist Daniel Pingrey, Ruston Kelly came to the Richmond Music Hall for an intimately riled, triumphant Wednesday night. 

Donovan Woods @ Richmond Music Hall, October 30, 2019


The evening began with a few sets from Woods that were warmly welcomed by the audience, captivating them with earthy tunes and sonic arrangements that invited the venue to participate in emotive listening. A Juno-award winning artist, Woods sings narrative lyrics that resonate with his listeners. His performance was personable and intimate, as he ended each piece with unfiltered and casual conversation with his audience, often making them laugh. 


Following Woods and Pingrey’s down-to-earth performance, Nashville native, Ruston Kelly comes out, accompanied with his band, onto a stage with white statued angels on either side. Kelly performs a series of songs that paint pictures of his personal battles with heartbreak and addiction, feelings of loss and confusion, that are then overcome in the triumphant blaze of redemption. Kelly comes to the Richmond stage after going through a drug overdose that led him to rehab in 2016, and he vocally illustrates this journey to his audience. With drumming and strumming that reverberates off the walls of the music hall, every person in the audience, quite literally, feels his music. Kelly’s music, although embedded with tunes of small town roots, extend into the hearts of those beyond his reach. His candid storytelling establishes his songwriting of personal anecdotes that his audience relates so much to. The entire ventue is in a musical daze, screaming his lyrics with him, following his direction to “sing as loud as you fucking want”.  


Ruston Kelly @ Richmond Music Hall, October 30, 2019


Kelly’s lyrics, albeit candid in their storytelling, act as a bridge between his pain and his listeners’, portraying an utter relatability of wanting to escape a place of hurt. Particularly in his song, “Hollywood” does Kelly accomplish this. 


The intimacy and smaller scaled venue of the Richmond Music Hall at Capital Ale House allowed for Woods’ and Kelly’s music to be physically felt by the audience, creating a palpable atmosphere that is impossible to overlook.  Check out Aqueous with Lespecial on November 2nd for an intimately similar experience!


Words by Anna Menendez