Artist to Watch: Home Free
Artist to Watch: Home Free
by Monica Sampson
Music competition shows are all the rage these days. You can’t flip through channels without seeing an amateur singer belting for their 15 minutes of fame. So, how do you win an NBC TV show, a record deal and the hearts of every young American all with out a band?
With just your voice, of course! Home Free is a self-proclaimed “vocal band” made famous through the their season four win of NBC’s acapella competition show, The Sing Off. This ragtag group of five sultry southern men complete with a beat boxer, a buttery lead singer, and a sexy bassist have been touring as a country vocal band since early 2000.
The Rupp brothers founded the group during their college years. Chris arranges the songs, and Adam is the band’s percussionist. The groups found lead singer Austin, angelic background singer Rob, and husky baritone Tom and together became Home Free. The Minnesota group got their start in the industry by traveling to state fairs and performing for college fairs and companies, and now after their big win on The Sing Off, the group has released a new album called Crazy Life and has taken the album on tour.
I had the pleasure of watching Home Free down in Tucson in late October, and the band had me entranced during the entire two-hour performance. They had funny audience participation bits followed by choreographed hit songs and dance moments. The mostly female crowd loved these boys’ luscious hair, which was artfully played up in a hilarious drinking game. They used the stage time to engage their fans and promote one another’s unique talents. One of the best parts of the show occurred during “Sole Beat Boxer,” Adams Rupp’s percussion solo. Rupp, who’s responsible for all of Home Frees’ percussion, DJ’ing, and synthesizers—heard throughout every song—took to the stage alone after being urged on by his fellow bandmates and preformed an entire 10-minute solo. Similar to a famous drum or guitar solo, Adam’s technical skills rivaled Ringo Starr or Questlove, who would have been equally impressed or jealous. He went from a killer drum solo, complete with hands miming the drumsticks, to an ever-better original rap song pulling it all together with his own musical beats. Rupp’s talents are some of the best in the business; he has won many awards for his unparallel beat boxing skills. Several of the other members are also critically acclaimed; Bassist Tim Fousts voice boasts a jaw-dropping 5-octave range. This was like nothing I had ever experienced. My body shook as the base notes from one man’s chest echoed though a theater of hundreds; I was in awe of this raw talent. Humans and computers have been working for years to engineer perfect percussion sounds, and somehow one country boy was making it all with his mouth.
Home Free’s very personal show had a 20-minute intermission between hour one and two so the members of the group could warm up their instruments (i.e. their voices) and concluded with a standing ovation after the crowd was brought to tears by the band’s humbling performance of “God Bless the USA.”
After the performance, Home Free took the time to sign and talk with every fan who crossed their sharpie-laden hands. They joyfully interacted with all of their fans, cleverly titled “home fries.” The boys looked like they genuinely enjoyed hearing what the fans thought and cared if we had enjoyed ourselves. Home Frees’ humble attitude was one I wasn’t used to in our harsh hypercritical music industry.
These five southern gentlemen are working hard to reinvent music and the culture of our music industry. No matter what genre your taste, these boys have got you covered, from their famous romantically compelling Hunter Hayes melody, to their new hilarious pop cover of “All About that Bass” (that even Meghan Trainor herself tweeted about,) or husky-throated bassist Tim’s original heart-melting song “I’ve Seen,” Home Free goes down as the best concert and musical experience I have had the pleasure of experiencing, they go above and beyond to prove it. Music and talent is all about that voice!