Susto is an emerging band from Charleston, South Carolina and although the crowd was light with one of the earliest Saturday slots, the quintet proved they are definitely an act worth getting up for early to see.
Lead singer Justin Osborne, who spent time playing solo in South Carolina and Cuba, is the brainchild of Susto, a term that in Latin America refers to “fright sickness,” and is described as an out of body experience in the form of a panic attack.
Dark lyrics definitely drive Susto’s songs, and given their name, it’s almost as if music serves as a cathartic outlet to release some of life’s anxieties.
Osborne is joined by guitarists Johnny Delaware and Corey Campbell, bassist Jenna Desmond and drummer Marshall Hudson. Those assignments aren’t too strict, though, as Delaware, Campbell and Osborne all take turn on the keys throughout the set.
Finding a music genre box to put them in isn’t clear cut either. It’s an eclectic mix that’s been tagged as indie, alt-country, country rock and even, on their Facebook page, as gospel. The Nashville Scene likened their sound to “mid-’60s Everly Brothers records, complete with Glen Campbell-esque guitar parts.”
Their music ranges from eerie, sedated melancholy to faster, up-tempo power chords that combine with Osborne’s lyrics to tell tales of love lost and the highs and lows of small-town living.
As those who did shake off Friday’s hangover fast enough to get to the festival grounds for Susto can attest, there’s just something about their subtle stage presence that sucks you in and leaves you wanting more.
The band opened the set with the moderately paced song “County Line,” and then later kicked it into a higher gear with the yet-to-be released catchy track “Cosmic Cowboys,” which is scheduled to debut on their new album (release date TBD).
The keyboard-driven “Dream Girl” is another slow and steady tune, and despite its creepy and dark lyrics, Osborne’s husky refrain is supremely catchy.
“Well, I don’t know her even if she knows me and when I look up to see her I see something gruesome, she’s gonna eat me alive…with my skin in her teeth and my blood on her blue eyes.”
After playing “Black River Gospel,” “Friends, Lovers, Ex-Lovers… Whatever” and “Smoking Outside,” Susto brought the short set to an energetic finish with “Cigarettes, Whiskey & Wine.”
Signed to the South Carolina-based independent label Hearts and Plugs, Susto was one of the only independent acts to appear on the Stagecoach lineup. As Osborne shared with us later in the afternoon, the appearance marked the first major festival they have played, also helping to make a west coast tour possible.
“It’s been a blast,” said Osborne.” We are having a great time. It’s a real honor to be on a lineup with such iconic people.”
We look forward to seeing what’s next for this young band, and recommend you try to catch them during their North American tour. Dates here.