If Marcus King and his band existed at any point before 1960 people would have claimed they were possessed by demons. How else could a group of musicians sound as good as they do? The South Carolina based rock band has the chops to match or surpass their peers, but it’s the energy conveyed during their thunderous live show that makes them uniquely special in today’s crowded music landscape.

On Friday, August 16, The Marcus King Band opened three-act bill at Van Andel Arena with modern country icon Chris Stapleton at the night’s headliner. It is no secret that opening slots on arena performances can be a mixed bag for performers. Artists never know how many people will be in the crowd when the hit the stage, nor do they know if anyone who is there will pay attention. The best any performer can hope for is to deliver a set so undeniably entertaining that whoever is present fights the urge to look at their phones long enough to commit a name to memory.

That night, with stage lights so bright the group had no way of seeing the thousands already gathered, The Marcus King Band made sure their presence left a lasting impression on everyone in the room.

Blending new takes on timeless standards from Foghat and Motown with original cuts that landed with similarly strong energy, The Marcus King Band gave Grand Rapids a set worthy of closing the night before the sun had even begun to set. The band, led by King, owned the Van Andel stage as if it were their own. The time and place didn’t matter to them. The group wanted nothing more than a chance to connect with people through their music, and they did so in a manner that set the bar impossibly high for everything that would follow.

King was light on crowd interaction, choosing instead to let the music speak for itself. That tactic can be risky for openings act, but the rock and roll stylings of The Marcus King Band reached into the soul of every person and called them toward the stage. Their mobile device, which so often create walls between people and performers, were tucked into purses and pockets as all eyes focused on what was happening at the South end of the building. For roughly thirty minutes, The Marcus King Band had thousands — including many who did not know the group even existed prior to that evening — hanging on every note. The room was connected through the music played, and everyone left that night a better person for having been a part of what the group chose to share.

Where The Marcus King Band goes from here is clear. The group has a healthy tour schedule that runs through the end of the year and will likely be followed by more performances in 2020. Anyone reading this now should consider those plans a gift because it means you — yes, you — have the opportunity to experience the soul-stirring talents King and his band bring to the stage. It is scientifically impossible to encounter the group’s music and feel nothing. The Marcus King Band is music for the soul rooted in the best elements of rock, and they want nothing more than to remind you life isn’t as bad as the news and people online make it seem.