The Saturday Night Special. Not that one at the bar (although that one’s good, too.) No, this particular Saturday Night Special is an unrivaled, incomparable concert that can only be experienced at a Creation Entertainment Supernatural Convention. If it had to be described using a single word, only one simple adjective comes to mind on first instinct … special (I know, I know, give me chance.)
SNS is spearheaded by LA indie rock band Louden Swain, which is impeccably comprised of singer/songwriter Rob Benedict (Chuck Shurley/God on Supernatural), guitarist/songwriter Billy Moran, drummer Stephen Norton, and bassist Michael Borja. Now, the band playing their originals is and always will be a treat in and of itself, but logistically what makes this a Saturday Night Special versus a Louden Swain concert are the friends that weave into the night alongside them. Familiar faces emerge from the black curtains backdropping the stage to join the band, covering a number of their own favorite songs with our supreme four rocking out along beside them. But this isn’t about logistics, this is about the magic of this show — what happens when courage, vulnerability, genius, talent, love, and respect all join together and blossom into the palpable vivacity that is all but impossible to convey to someone who’s simply never seen it. That’s what this is about.
Whether you’re in either of the pit sections at the sides of the stage or watching from your seat, the overall thrills and sentiments of the night will not surpass you. Not wanting to sound cliche — but also not caring if it is — from the moment the band slips out from behind the curtains to the final bow, the emotions swirling around the room from performers and fans alike has the power to ground you in the now. Worries of what’s to come and what has passed slip away with each beat of the drum, leaving you thriving in the aura and the emotion, taking in every note and every lyric, one’s familiarity with the songs irrelevant to the spell they cast. Whether it’s when the crowd hums along to the soul-awakening cover of “Hallelujah” with The Station Breaks (Rob Benedict, Billy Moran, and Jason Manns) or the excitable, energetic “Mamma’s Jam” as Benedict and Moran take their guitars on the run while friends keep the party alive onstage screaming and cheering, at one point in that two hours something will hit you, giving pause to the noise in your brain and trapping you in the moment.
The sense of togetherness and family saturating the room is only heightened by the tangible trust between both the performers with one another and the spectators stretching from wall-to-wall before them. Those who have been around through the years know that that constancy has bore a flourishing of comfort and ease in many performers once too demure to share their talents with an audience. Albums have been born from this little show that could, like Briana Buckmaster’s Begin and Gil McKinney’s How Was I to Know. One could remember a time when Jensen Ackles shared his musical inclinations in a moment of vulnerability to a small crowd after a convention; that same Jensen Ackles now commands the stage on those rare opportunities he can join the show, with an upcoming album to boot. It’s been a gift to watch these talents emerge from their own shrouds of doubt and bestow their artistries with their friends and the fans that they’ve come to feel confident and safe with.
But that calm and safeguarding certainty isn’t solitary to the performers, it extends to the sea of faces surrounding them. This has always felt different than any other concert — quieter, less coordinated, less choreographed. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, but the lax, creatively free environment only facilitates more raw emotion, more sincerity, and an inimitable veracity. It’s easy to feel the passion and the respect radiating off of each and every person in the space. Being in that room, lit with waving lights as the band performs the transcendent, poignant ballad “She Waits,” there’s no escape from the solidarity you feel as Rob Benedict belts out that chorus. You feel the vehemence in his voice and the blinding passion, all of which can be attributed to his ardor and the trust he shares with each and every person surrounding him. As he looks out across the crowd, taking in each glowing beacon representing each filled seat and space as they sway to the slow rhythm, it’s apparent in his expression that the moment is never, and will never be, lost on him. This pause gives break to the elapse of time, leaving an opening to breathe it in, and it will overcome you if you allow it to. Don’t let it pass you by.
And meanwhile the house is empty
The floors lay, naked and weary
The walls, barely hanging on
And she, waits for you.
As I said before, SNS is … special. It’s uniting, strengthening, and inspiring — it’s a show that leaves you different on the other side of it. Whether you walk in with high or zero expectations, they will be blown away by the time the audience begins to chant “Louden Swain! Louden Swain! Louden Swain!” beckoning the band out for at least one last song in an always obliged encore. You’ll walk away with a newfound respect for those four performers and each and every guest star — there’s no escaping the tactile joy and unwavering fellowship felt between them. It’s fun, it’s emotional, and it’s always a much needed break from the harsh realities of the world. Just don’t forget, when “Rock Song”‘s familiar chords begin to hauntingly echo off the walls, scream that second “Where are all my friends?” verse like you mean it, cause whether you’re there alone or with a group, you’ll realize that each and every soul in that room has come together for one sole purpose — family.
“Screaming will be heard … they will hear us.” – Louden Swain’s “Rock Song”