Sierra Ferrell. Red Rocks Amphitheatre. 09.05.22
From busking across America to racking up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, from stealing the show at festivals to the iconic stage at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Sierra Ferrell is on top of the world right now, and she is embracing it. Strutting onto the stage with her band on Monday night, decked out in a silver dress(?) with her blonde hair done up like Dolly, she stared in awe at the massive crowd before acknowledging the moment. “Go big or go home!”
My sister sent me videos of Sierra during the lockdown, and I was blown away by her voice. I would have thought they were filmed in the 70s if it weren’t for the quality of the images, the small tattoo on her face, and the silver in her septum. Sierra is a modern woman with a style, voice, and backstory that rivals Loretta Lynn and all the other badass females who paved the way. It feels almost cheap to make those comparisons, though. Sure, she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing without the influence of those who came before her, but she’s cultivated an obsessive fanbase on her own, with no gimmicks, which is impressive in this day and age.
I first caught Sierra live at the Palomino Festival in Pasadena last month. She came out in a rawhide dress with fringes, a cowgirl hat, and a few flowers in her hair. Nothing showy. She and her band performed the hell out of a handful of songs and did their best to satisfy the crowd in the short twenty-five minutes they had allocated. It was a fantastic teaser set, but I was looking forward to seeing her perform longer.
Even as an opening act, Red Rocks is the place to shine, and Sierra Ferrell shone. Joined by Josie Toney on fiddle, Geoff Saunders on bass, and Joshua Rilko on mandolin, they kicked things off with “Silver Dollar,” “Give It Time,” and “Bells of Every Chapel.” It was a non-stop romp that saw thousands of people on their feet, singing and dancing along. Shakey Graves always draws a crowd to the Rocks, but there is no doubt that everyone was there to see Sierra as well.
Even up in Morrison, it was a blazing hot night, but that did not stop anyone from having a great time and following along when Sierra choreographed an arm-waving extension to “At the End of the Rainbow.” “I’ll do it backward for all the dyslectic folks out there.“
The forty-five-minute set came to an end, way too quickly, with “Jeremiah.” Sierra’s energy was infectious as she howled at the moon between the monoliths. And just like at Palomino, the crowd howled back for more, but to no avail. This was a Shakey Graves show, and Sierra’s time was up for now. She looked and, more importantly, sounded like a star on Monday night, which is why she’ll be back as a headliner soon.
Sierra Ferrell Setlist: Silver Dollar, Give It Time, Bells of Every Chapel, Why’d Ya Do It, Made Like That, Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down, I’d Do It Again, In Dreams, The Sea, At the End of the Rainbow, Jeremiah
Photos of Shakey Graves can be found here.