Yelawolf ignites Commodore Crowd on Trial By Fire tour

Photo by Ryan Johnson
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Yelawolf’s sold-out Trial by Fire show at the Commodore Ballroom this past Sunday was the epitome of being “lit”, pun intended. The Alabama native, with his nonchalant persona and incredible talent for reciting syllables at incomprehensible speeds, made this party well worth the Monday hangover.

Bubba Sparxxx’s opening set featured heavy bass beats which shook the darkened venue, gradually increasing the thickening crowd’s anticipation. His set list included hits like “Ms. New Booty” and “Ghost”, and the Yelawolf-produced “Put in Work”. Bubba then shouted “Y’all ready for Yelawolf?” and walked off stage. Tensions heightened as people amalgamated into an ominous mass.

The release finally came when guitarist “Coach Kenny” appeared onstage, strumming the melody for “Honey Brown”. Yelawolf rushed onstage adorned in a plain white t-shirt under a patched jean vest, dark skinny jeans, a red toque, and big glasses. Barely recognizable with his famous Slumerican forehead tattoo hidden, he began to spit out rhymes so fast the crowd could not keep up.

After coming to an energized end, he proceeded to strip off his shirt and toque, revealing his tattoo-infested body and face. He then introduced his next song by yelling “My name is Catfish Billy!” The crowd cheered as he passionately recited the lyrics into the mic, his whole body folding over onto itself. He subsequently flung himself into the massive sea of fans. One man held a cowboy hat up, and the performer did not hesitate to grab it and put it on his head.

Yelawolf then started rapidly articulating the lyrics to “Whiskey in a Bottle”, with fans loyally singing along to the chorus: “Put your hands to the sky, I’m a ready-made party, I’m a whiskey in a bottle now.” The American described how he got to experience Canada for the first time on this trip, which was met with applause and cheers from Vancouverites. He then began humming the slow, deep melody for “Devil in my Veins”, which was a sharp contrast to his other “Love Story” song.

The climax of the show was when the headliner asked to turn on the house lights. He suggested splitting the middle, but went on to say “we are all family here. Take care of one another. You see somebody fall down, pick ‘em up. It’s this side versus that side, mother-fuckers!” Then he sent a shout-out to Travis Barker from Blink 182, and the next few minutes were a chaotic rush of bodies flying into each other to the 150-bpm tempo of “Push ‘Em”.

With endorphins peaking after the mosh pit, Yelawolf transitioned into “Pop the Trunk”, whistles and screams diffusing in the background. Sensing the decrease in the crowd’s energy his next song was “Best Friend”, which he prefaced by paying homage to Marshall Mathers who helped him release his major-label debut album Radioactive on Shady Records. Yelawolf—or Michael Wayne Atha—is not a stranger to rough time, as expressed in this song’s lyrics. His mother was a bartender who had him at the age of fifteen, and she would bring him along to bars with her until he was around eleven or twelve.

A particularly humorous moment occurred when he was singing “American You”, in which he repeated the last verse “Fuck you too” multiple times after the music had already stopped, with the crowd insulting him back. He feigned offense and broke the mic stand. Yelawolf made everyone shout out the final verse again, after which he exclaimed, “It’s time to party!” He then ended his set with a very articulated execution of “Till It’s Gone”. The horde of re-energized aficionados stomped and clapped along.

Of course, no show is complete without an encore, for which the 36-year-old chose one of his newly released songs, “Daylight”. Its smooth, country feel was the perfect wrap-up to an energy-saturated evening.