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A late arrival makes for an interesting night at the Royal House

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Most Thieves were followed, on consecutive nights, by The Killers (twice) and, unexpectedly, Dusty Sunshine (once).
Courtesy Most Thieves
Jason Harris

The most interesting storyline from the December 30 local bands showcase at the Royal House revolved around a set—and a song—that almost didn’t happen.

Most Thieves, coming off two nights opening for The Killers at the Cosmopolitan, were scheduled to close Sunday’s show. They would certainly have been worthy headliners; their pop-friendly tunes sounded precise when performed in the night’s second-to-last slot. Chani Riiell wasn’t there to see hear them, however. The Dusty Sunshine member was en route back to Las Vegas, hoping to make it to the Royal in time for her band’s now-show-capping set.

“My flight coming home from Virginia was delayed four times, pushing me back three hours,” she explained. “I sat on the floor of the Charlotte [North Carolina] airport and texted my band members.”

As Most Thieves finished, the other members of DS set up, preparing to play without Riiell. One potential issue: Sunshiners Riiell, Heidi Guinn and Megan Wingerter had worked up a special cover for the night—a take on folk duo Chris and Thomas’ “Traum,” a tune filled with vocal harmonies and strings. Wingerter’s sister Desirae was scheduled to join in on violin, with Rusty Maples cellist Courtney Waldron rounding out the string section.

Riiell had come up with the idea to try the song, so a decision had to be made. “After we pulled all out hair out, we decided, much to Chani’s disappointment, to go ahead without her,” Guinn said. “It seemed crazy, but we were so excited to play it and had practiced so many times that we thought it would still stand up with just one vocal.”

And then, just as four women were about to begin playing, Riiell rushed into the hotel, getting there in time for both the cover song and Dusty Sunshine’s full set. “Traum” was pretty, a true confluence of voices and stringed instruments, with a classical feel behind it.

The girls seemed happy with their set … mostly. “Unfortunately, because I thought I wouldn't make it, I took copious amounts of Dramamine due to my serious fear of flying and was barely coherent at the show,” Riiell explained. “I also fainted while on the plane. Pretty interesting night overall.”

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