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Crash County brings down the Ale House

Considering how quickly "American Idol" turned singers such as Danny Gokey and Naima Adedapo into local celebrities, it is surprising how little attention has been paid to Scott Dangerfield.

While he was barely featured on the current season of the hit show, Dangerfield still made it into the Top 42 before being eliminated. Now back home in Milwaukee, Dangerfield is the lead singer of the five-member band Crash County, who performed Friday night at the Milwaukee Ale House.

Over the course of three sets, it became very clear why Dangerfield made it so far in the notoriously tough singing competition. Crash County played a wide variety of covers ranging from The Temptations to Credence Clearwater Revival as well as Bruno Mars and the Black Keys.

The show was primarily rock-based, but the band also dipped into blues, country and funk. Along the way, they sprinkled in original songs such as "Two Cent Shoes" and "Stop Me Now," which will presumably appear on their debut album due in either April or May.

The crowd at the Milwaukee Ale House was remarkably diverse, but regardless of background, all the focus in the room was set on Crash County (even with important college basketball games playing on the television screens). At one point during the course of the nearly three-hour show an older gentleman in the crowd said to his companion, "Why didn't you tell me these guys were any good?"

During the first set, there were occasional moments of feedback from the guitars but that was cleaned up rather quickly after a few songs. The highlight of the first set was their rollicking rendition of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues." This had been the final song Dangerfield performed on "American Idol" before his elimination as part of the final cuts. Part of what makes Crash County special is their ability to stay faithful to the original songs, while at the same time incorporating a fun new twist or solo.

It was apparent that Crash County already had a number of followers and there was a great ebb and flow between the band and the audience. At the end of the second set, Crash County dedicated a rousing cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run" to a fan named Burt. While the song sounded perfect, it was just as delightful to see Burt celebrate the band's gesture by high-fiving anyone within his general vicinity during the entire duration of the tune.

During a second break between sets, one fan asked if the band did any Led Zeppelin covers. Dangerfield expressed disappointment that they did not, but promised the fan that it would be something they'd work on and do at a future show.

The band also had a large stack of free demo CDs featuring some of their original songs. Midway through the show, these CDs were gone and in the hands of most in attendance.

After Crash County closed out the show with an uncensored cover of Cee Lo Green's "Forget You," the crowd demanded an encore and was rewarded with the band's take on "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" by The Darkness.

As they currently stand, Crash County has stealthily emerged as an elite cover band, one that seems willing to take risks and emulate a number of genres. Their mass appeal should lead to gigs on bigger stages and area festivals. However, the fact that they are soon releasing an original album and that their lead singer already has national exposure (as well as the endorsement of Jennifer Lopez) would suggest that their ambition extends beyond staying local. Either way, Crash County is a must-see live act that will at the very least likely become a staple in the Milwaukee music scene.

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