The Matching Shoe: Young Bandmates Step Forward with Their Debut LP Release—and a Tour Ahead

 In Event, Feature

The Matching Shoe began with two neighbors, Dillon Wilfong (vocals/drums/guitar) and Ben Vennard (keyboards/bass/vocals). At only 21 and 22 years old, Wilfong and Vennard recently returned from their mainstage appearance at the National Association of Music Merchants annual show in southern California and are rapidly growing their “shoe-head” following. Currently working with local agency TalentPlus, The Matching Shoe has a brand-new LP and is ready to hit the road for its very first tour out West.

The Matching Shoe: Young Bandmates Step Forward with Their Debut LP Release and a Tour Ahead

Wilfong and Vennard grew up just down the street from one another in Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis. Vennard learned classical piano as a child, going on to study classical-music orchestration in Indiana. It was there he decided the competitive nature did not feel true to the music he wanted to make.

Wilfong claims a slightly different musical upbringing: “I walked into class, and Liam Terrio, (Wilfong’s first bandmate who tragically passed away in 2017) was wearing a Led Zeppelin t-shirt, and I had my AC/DC shirt on, so we made friends. He played guitar, so I thought, ‘If you can play, I can play.’ I took lessons for two weeks and I hated it, so I just started listening to songs and trying to learn them,” Wilfong says. Their diverse training works well when it comes to songwriting, they say. “Our brains are wired very differently, so we come up with things the other can’t,” Vennard says.

The chemistry between them is apparent as they take on an exceptionally mature psychedelic pop-rock sound. Their original songs have been compared to early Jethro Tull and “Revolver”-era Beatles. Some of their big influences include Wilco, Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd and The Beatles. When asked about how their style originated, Wilfong says, “It just kind of unfolded that way. When we starting playing more together in late 2015, our music tastes started coming together.”

The boys are no strangers to hard work, holding residencies at various bars in town, including every other Wednesday evening at Scarlett’s Wine Bar in the Central West End. Thanks to their impressive repertoire of ‘60s and ‘70s cover songs, you’ll hear everything from The Doors to Elton John. “We are always playing at least one to two gigs a week; there’s rarely any dead time,” Wilfong says.

Their full-length album, “Right On”, released in April, is described by Wilfong as “album rock”—a term used to cover all bases. “That includes everything: Pink Floyd, Allman Brothers; it’s about experiencing the whole album. It’s folk, rock, rhythm and blues, punk.”

The Matching Shoe: Young Bandmates Step Forward with Their Debut LP Release and a Tour Ahead

The “Right On” release show is May 17 at the Old Rock House. Dominic Anzalone will play drums, with Steve Nowels on bass. Although their rhythm section tends to change, this will also be the lineup going out West this summer. “The whole idea for the tour stemmed from us being asked to play the Huichica Festival. It’s a two-day camp-out festival held on the oldest American winery.” In a brand-new van, on their first tour, LP in hand, the future looks bright for these young musicians.

As far as their music goals go, Wilfong says, “All I want is a solid band, to go on the road and to share our taste in music and our writing style.” And as for Vennard, he says, “It would be cool to be financially solvent.” Ah, every sensible musician’s dream.

“Right On” is available on all streaming services. Tickets for the Friday, May 17, release show at the Old Rock House can be purchased online for $10. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Images courtesy of Bailey Elizabeth Rogers.

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