This photo is captured by David Gray/Gray Peak Images at Westville Music Bowl

There’s nothing that can compare to a good live bluegrass performance, and there are few better bands currently working in the genre than Greensky Bluegrass and The Infamous Stringdusters. Both bands have amassed impressive catalogs of studio albums, including their latest works, Stress Dreams and Toward the Fray, each released earlier this year. But bluegrass will always be at its best live on stage, which both bands demonstrated at their recent show at The Fillmore Detroit.

In their opening set, The Infamous Stringdusters set the tone for a high-energy night with their fiery playing. Fiddler Jeremy Garrett immediately captivated the audience with an impressive solo before handing the spotlight to acoustic guitarist Andy Falco, who led the first of many lengthy instrumental jams by both bands throughout the night. As Falco’s playing got more intense, his bandmates and the crowd reciprocated that intensity, leading to an epic climax early in the show. The band proceeded to play cuts from Toward the Fray, their new album that was released on the day of the show. These songs showcased each of the members’ instrumental talent, but the band also showed that their musical abilities run much deeper than flashy solos as they played emotional love songs that highlighted their lyricism and vocal harmonies. The Stringdusters’ set left a strong impression and did an excellent job selling their new album (which the band celebrated the “birthday” of with a birthday cake presented to them before they left the stage).

Following the opening act, Greensky Bluegrass picked up where the Stringdusters left off and raised the energy levels even higher. The band’s musical texture was immediately striking: Each of the five band members was laser-focused on their own complex part, but the band’s sound was remarkably cohesive, with each of the musicians contributing equally to the sound. Performing in a group without a percussionist to establish pulse is difficult, but the members of Greensky Bluegrass were locked in with each other for the entire show and boldly projected their musical unity.

The highlights of Greensky Bluegrass’s set were their signature instrumental jams, which were engaging and electrifying, despite their length. While the band’s studio recordings also feature long and exciting instrumental passages, their live jams take the energy to another level and push the bluegrass genre to its limits. At times, the group sounded more like a rock band, with the thunderous electric upright bass filling the hall and the slide guitar using microphone feedback to harness a huge sound. In addition to their big, powerful moments, the band also had lyrical and emotional moments, like when they played their new tunes “Grow Together” and “Streetlight,” two songs that show off a softer side of the band. As impressive as the band’s variety of styles was, the way that they were able to seamlessly transition between those styles throughout their performance without stopping elevated the show to another level. 

Both Greensky Bluegrass and The Infamous Stringdusters are exceptional bluegrass bands that could each put on a great show by themselves; performing under the same roof in Detroit, the bands achieved something special, remaining faithful to the bluegrass style while pushing the sound to its limits. It isn’t easy to stand out in bluegrass, a genre rooted heavily in tradition, but Greensky Bluegrass and The Infamous Stringdusters cracked the code with their memorable live performance at The Fillmore Detroit.

Daily Arts Writer Jack Moeser can be reached at