2017’s West Coast Thunder culminated in a full day of entertainment at Soboba Casino, with musical performances from the Eli Young Band, LANco, and Michael Austin, as well as the always moving Ultimate Sacrifice Ceremony.
Local favorite, veteran, and contestant on Season 4 of The Voice, Michael Austin opened the concert in one of his first gigs back on stage following a brief hiatus from performing. After his solid rendition of the National Anthem, Michael sang a series of patriotic originals and covers, accompanied by two guitarists who are also no strangers to the Southern California country music scene: Allen Cummins and Preston Radomsky.
“These guys are great,” commented the Eli Young Band’s Mike Eli, nodding toward LANco as they prepared for their set, which included their first two radio singles, “Greatest Love Story” and “Long Live Tonight,” as well as the balance of last year’s EP (appropriately titled Extended Play), “We Do” and audience favorite “Trouble Maker.”
Lead singer Brandon Lancaster reported the band would be back in studio in the next couple of weeks to finish recording their full-length debut album, and included a few songs from that project, as well as a mash-up of Alabama‘s “Dixieland Delight” and “Song of the South,” as well as covers of John Michael Montgomery‘s “Sold” and Brooks & Dunn‘s “Brand New Man.”
Brandon jumped into the crowd to bang a drum for “Singing at the Stars” before concluding their set with “Long Live Tonight.”
Each act sincerely thanked all active duty military, veterans, and especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and the Eli Young Band was no exception. After spending the day floating Arizona’s Salt River the day prior, Mike Eli recounted a couple he’d met on the excursion: a serviceman named Dallas and his wife. Dallas was scheduled to go on his second overseas deployment today, and Mike wished him, “Take care of yourself, and God bless.”
The band from Denton, Texas, has a new album coming out on June 16th. They began their set with the title track to Fingerprints, and also included several new songs which will be included on the album: “Saltwater Gospel,” “Skin and Bones,” and “Never Again,” which they described as “the sequel to ‘Drunk Last Night'” (they performed that one, too).
A handful of audience members could be found coupled together for two steps, cha-chas, and sweetheart schottisches as the self-described “glorified garage band” played. Excitement grew as they sang their anthem “Small Town Kid,” then the pride of their songwriting experience, “Guinevere,” “Always the Love Songs,” the Will Hoge/Eric Paslay-penned “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” and “Crazy Girl,” written by Lee Brice.
For their encore, they surprised the crowd with their version of Jimmy Eat World’s “In the Middle.”
In a bittersweet moment, it was announced that West Coast Thunder had outgrown Soboba Casino, which has hosted the event for the past seven years, and that starting next year, it would be moved to the Perris Fairgrounds.
Eli Young Band:
- Jet Black and Jealous
- When It Rains
- Skin and Bones
- Dust on the Bottle (David Lee Murphy cover)
- Never Again
- Saltwater Gospel
- Drunk Last Night
- Come Together (Beatles cover)
- Small Town Kid
- Always the Love Songs
- Even If It Breaks Your Heart/Learning to Fly (Tom Petty cover)
- Crazy Girl
- The Middle (Jimmy Eat World lyrics)
- So Long
- We Do
- Hallelujah Nights
- Dixieland Delight/Song of the South (Alabama covers)
- Sold (John Michael Montgomery cover)
- Brand New Man (Brooks & Dunn cover)
- Trouble Maker
- Greatest Love Story
- Singing at the Stars
- Long Live Tonight