by Julian Spivey
Up-and-coming Americana singer Parker Millsap put on an incredibly energetic and entertaining show for the packed room at The Outland Ballroom in Springfield, Mo. on Saturday, June 10.
Though he’s only released two albums as a solo artist the Oklahoma native has already made quite the name for himself in the Americana genre, having been nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year at the Americana Honors & Awards in 2014 and for Album of the Year last year for his terrific sophomore release The Very Last Day.
Millsap can seemingly do it all, mixing country, folk, bluegrass, gospel, blues and rock to form a unique sound that makes him perfect for the catchall that is Americana music. The mid-20s performer is also one of the best up-and-coming songwriters in the music industry and plays with an intensity and energy that you don’t see too often on the stage. By the time he’s through with his performance his shirt is nearly drenched with sweat proving that he left everything he had on the stage for his adoring audience that hopefully (and should be) growing with each passing show.
Millsap opened his Outland show on Saturday night with the fantastic “Pining,” off The Very Last Day, and never let up for the rest of the evening. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand all night long with terrific performances of “Truckstop Gospel,” off his self-titled debut solo album in 2014, “Quite Contrary” and “I Hope I Die,” from a 2012 release Palisade with Michael Rose.
A lot of Millsap’s music features gospel or religious themes, even though Millsap admits on his website’s bio to not being very religious these days. The themes were engraved upon him growing up in a Pentecostal church with his family and that experience has given him a unique view on religion in music. One such of these songs is last year’s “Heaven Sent,” which ranked as the No. 1 song of 2016 on this very site. The song tells the story of a young gay man struggling with the fact that his preacher father can’t accept him for who he is, even though his father always told him Jesus would love him through the flame.
“The Very Last Day” is another song with a unique take on religion with Millsap realizing that the end times are much more likely to come via a nuclear holocaust, rather than a Biblical rapture – but nevertheless he’s going to welcome that day. “The Very Last Day,” isn’t exactly a fun topic, but the way Millsap performs it with such vigor makes you welcome that very last day on Earth, as well. It’s definitely a highlight of his show.
Millsap debuted three new songs consecutively toward the end of his set on Saturday, which is a good way for an artist to lose an audience, but he never did – meaning these songs must be keepers and ones we’ll look forward to seeing on an upcoming album. Two of these songs, “Fine Line” and “Some People” feature a harder sound than Millsap fans may be accustomed to hearing, but aren’t much heavier than say the fantastic “Hands Up,” off his last album, which was another stellar performance on Saturday night, by the way.
Millsap’s stellar voice and guitar playing was extra noticeable on more bluesy tunes like “Hesitation Blues,” “Morning Blues” and “Jealous Sun” – all which left the audience in awe.
He would finish his set with the rip-roaring performance of “Hades Pleads,” about the king of the underworld looking for love, before his loyal crowd of fans begged him to return to the stage for a great encore of the blues tune “You Gotta Move.”