Tag Archives: concert review

A Cappella Society Impresses In “Welcome Back Concert”

By Danny Contreras

The Central Connecticut A Cappella Society opened their concert season this past Wednesday night with their biannual Welcome Back Concert. Consisting of three performances by three different groups, the electrifying performance kept a lively crowd of over 100 people at Semesters excited throughout, with great renditions of classic and contemporary songs.

The Acabellas opened the performance with a lively interpretation of three Elvis Presley songs. The Acabellas are one of the founding groups of the CCSU A Cappella Society, which started back in 2005.

The group, coordinated in black and aqua, then sang “Life Could Be A Dream,” a doo-wop classic from the 1950s written by James Keyes and first performed by The Chords.

The rhythmic and lively group kept the crowd’s heads bopping and swaying, bringing an atmosphere of the lives of black and white and montages. Following was “Please Mr. Postman,” which kept a family-oriented feel, never straying away from a happy vibe and reminding us of simpler times.

Their performance concluded with Somebody to Love, a classic Queen song from the 1970s that brought warmth to a crowd that had just come inside from dreary, rainy weather.

The Acabellas were the first of two all-female groups in the A Cappella Society.

“The music we choose reflects the personality of the members,” said Darcy Lovell, a member of the Acabellas. Speaking about their track list, Lovell said, “We picked ones we really like, and ones the audience tends to really like. We pick ones that are kind of fun and upbeat, and that show a little bit of our style. We tend to go old school, more classic rock.”

The Acabellas plan to begin a new project this semester of including more contemporary tracks to add to their collection of classics. “The best of the best,” Lovell said.

Following the Acabellas was Divisi, another founding group of the society and CCSU’s only all-male group. The button-down shirted gentlemen sang very contemporary songs that went from pop to hip-hop. Their songs also included a lot of fast beat boxing and harmonies.

The chemistry among Divisi’s members clearly showed throughout the whole performance.

They opened their performance with a rendition of Maroon 5’s “Misery” that was very wholehearted and aggressive. Theirs was a good vibe, too, and the crowd enjoyed every second of it. The members interacted with the crowd by making a lot of eye contact.

Divisi truly set the atmosphere with Jason Mraz’s “Wordplay,” a song that included fast rapping and beat boxing. Their rendition included catchy choruses that never truly felt too contemporary, yet retained a real sense of meaning.

They quickly upped themselves with a cover of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade.” Andy Degan, the assistant director for Divisi, sang every line and hit every note along the way. Divisi’s simple choreography and hand movements made their performance very interactive and fun.

Divisi closed their set with an amazing interpretation of Katy Perry’s “Firework.” What made this song better than the rest was the presence of a fantastic and natural human voice that really showcased the lyrics. The arrangement uplifted and inspired the crowd that found themselves swaying and singing along.

Divisi concluded the last chorus by mimicking fireworks with their hands, a funny end to an incredible and engaging performance.

“We try to do a lot of contemporary stuff while trying to run the whole gambit,” said Degan, who is also vice president of the Central A Cappella Society. “You know, try to do some older stuff, some newer stuff, trying to reach out to all the audiences.”

In regards to the interaction between Divisi members and the audience, Degan commented, “It’s all part of the A Cappella atmosphere, it’s all improvised. The audience interacts with the performer.”

Divisi is planning a high-energy semester with many different shows coming up, including a competition with ECSU’s a cappella society. Degan took a moment to invite incoming freshman to tryout for Divisi, but also tryout for other clubs and activities the campus has to offer.

Last to perform was the newest group to the society, Too Good For Instruments (TGFI). The ladies wore black and pink skin-tight dresses and opened up with a powerful, dramatic song: “Mama Who Bore” from the musical Spring Awakening.

They set the atmosphere in the style of a gangster film, one could expect to be in Chicago in the 1920s and Al Capone’s men are coming in and shooting at you. The rain outside complimented their voices very well, and the crowd was mesmerized with every line.

They followed with a gut-wrenching rendition of “Fallin’,” a song that truly tore everyone’s heart out of their chest cavity. They turned up the heat with the feminist sympathetic song “King of Anything,” energizing the crowd as they led to the finale song, the burlesque classic “Lady Marmalade.”

The performance turned sensual and even more captivating as four lead singers performed the now classic Christina Aguilera, Maya, Missy Elliott,  and Lil’ Kim song. They swayed around the stage, pointed to the crowd and interacted with lots of eye contact. They drew male audience members in, and also got a few of them in trouble with their girlfriends. By the end of the song, the whole crowd was left wanting more.

TGFI is the youngest group in the society, joining it just two years ago. They released an album this month called One Love, available online, and will also be competing in the aforementioned ECSU competition.

TGFI came in third in the International Collegiate Competition of A Cappella. Teresa Lewis, president of the society and member of TGFI, commented on the release of the album, saying that listeners can expect “exciting music.”

Explaining the versatility of the group, Lewis explained that their song choices “basically are a variety of music across many disciplines.” She described the night’s songs as powerful and exciting, and carefully chosen to excite the audience as well as members of the incoming freshmen class.

The overall performance gave the CCSU student body a quick glimpse of what the A Cappella Society has to offer. All three groups performed extremely well, each one has a unique specialty that truly brings out their talents.

The Central A Cappella Society is definitely one of the more exciting groups on campus at the moment, and I recommend all CCSU students join me in the audience at any of the group’s next performances.

The Central Connecticut A Cappella Society opened their concert season this past Wednesday night with the Annual Welcome Back Concert. Consisting of three performances by three different groups, the electrifying performance kept a lively crowd of over 100 people at Semesters excited all throughout, with great renditions of classics and contemporary songs.

A Cabellas opened the performance with a lively interpretation of three Elvis Presley songs. A Cabella is a founding member of the CCSU A Cappella Society, which started back in 2007.

The black and aqua coordinated group then sang Life Could Be A Dream, a doo-wop classic from the 50s written by James Keyes and first performed by The Chords. The rhythmic and lively group kept the crowd head bopping and swaying, bringing an atmosphere of the lives of black and white and montages. Following was Please Mr. Postman, which kept a family-oriented feel; never straying away from being happy, reminding us of simpler times. Their performance concluded with Somebody to Love, another classic 50s song that brought warmth, and more happiness with to the crowd contrasting to the rainy weather outside.

A Cabellas is one of the two all (and first of) female groups in the A Cappella Society. “The music we choose reflects the personality of the members,” said Darcy Lovell, a member of A Cabellas. Speaking about their track-list, Lovell said, “We picked ones we really like, and ones the audience tends to really like. We pick ones that are kind of fun and upbeat, and that show a little bit of our style. We tend to go old school, more classic rock.” This semester A Cabellas will begin a new project in which they will include more contemporary tracks in their interpretations in addition to the classics. “The best of the best we’ve got,” said Lovell.

Following A Cabellas was Divisi: the second founding member of the Society and an all male group. The button-down shirted male group sang very contemporary songs that went from pop to hip-hop. Their songs included a lot of fast beat boxing and harmonics, chemistry between Divisi’s members clearly showing throughout the whole performance.

They opened their performance with a rendition of Maroon 5’s Misery, very wholeheartedly and aggressive. There was a goo vibe, and the crowd enjoyed every second of it. The members interacted with the crowd, making a lot of eye contact.

They truly set the atmosphere with Jason Mraz’s Wordplay; a song that included fast rapping and beat boxing and catchy choruses that never truly felt too contemporary, but completely meaningful. They quickly upped themselves with a cover of Bruno Mars’ Grenade. Andy Deegan, the director for Divisi, sang every line, hitting every note in the process. Divisi’s constant eye contact and hand movements made their performance very interactive and fun.

They closed their set with an amazing interpretation of Katy Perry’s Fireworks. What made this song better than the rest was the fact that the lack of a computer generated voice showcased the lyrics; uplifting and inspiring the crowd swayed and sung along, to Divisi who concluded the last chorus by mimicking fireworks with their hands, to the laughs of the crowd.

“We try to do a lot of contemporary stuff; while trying to run the whole gambit. You know, try to do some older stuff some newer stuff, trying to reach out to all the audiences,” said Andy Deegan, vice-president of the A Cappella Society and co-director of Divisi. In regards to the interaction between Divisi members and the audience, Deegan commented, “It’s all part of the A Cappella atmosphere; it’s all improvised. The audience interacts with the performer.”

Divisi is planning an energy consuming semester with many different shows coming up including a contest against sister Eastern Connecticut State University’s A Cappella Society. To the incoming freshmen, Deegan would like to invite them to Divisi but to also tryout for other club and activities the campus has to offer.

Last to perform was the newest group to the Society, Too Good For Instruments (TGFI). The wore black and pink skin tight dresses and opened up with a powerful, dramatic song: Mama Who Bore. They set the atmosphere to almost a gangster film; one could expect to be in Chicago in the 20s and Al Capone’s men coming in a shooting you. The rain outside complimented their voices very well, and the crowd grew mesmerized every new line.

They followed with a gut wrenching rendition of Fallin’, a song that truly torn everyone’s heart out of their chest cavity; the notes piercingly singing to the crowd. They turned up the heat with the feminist sympathetic song King of Anything; energizing the crowd in the process to their finale song, the burlesque classic: Lady Marmalade.

The performance turned sensual and even more captivating as four lead singers performed the now classic Christina Aguilera, Maya, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim song. They swayed around the stage, the pointed to the crowd; interacted with lots of eye contact, drawing the men in, and also getting them in trouble with their girlfriends. By the end of the song, the whole crowd wanted to see more.

TGFI is the youngest group in the society, joining it two years ago. They released an album this month called “One Love”, available on-line; and will also be competing in the aforementioned ECSU competition. TGFI’s came in third in the International Collegiate Competition of A Cappella. Theresa Louis, president of the Society and member of TGFI, commented on the release of the album, saying that listeners can expect “exciting music.”

Explaining the versatility of the group

The Central Connecticut A Cappella Society opened their concert season this past Wednesday night with the Annual Welcome Back Concert. Consisting of three performances by three different groups, the electrifying performance kept a lively crowd of over 100 people at Semesters excited all throughout, with great renditions of classics and contemporary songs.

A Cabellas opened the performance with a lively interpretation of three Elvis Presley songs. A Cabella is a founding member of the CCSU A Cappella Society, which started back in 2007.

The black and aqua coordinated group then sang Life Could Be A Dream, a doo-wop classic from the 50s written by James Keyes and first performed by The Chords. The rhythmic and lively group kept the crowd head bopping and swaying, bringing an atmosphere of the lives of black and white and montages. Following was Please Mr. Postman, which kept a family-oriented feel; never straying away from being happy, reminding us of simpler times. Their performance concluded with Somebody to Love, another classic 50s song that brought warmth, and more happiness with to the crowd contrasting to the rainy weather outside.

A Cabellas is one of the two all (and first of) female groups in the A Cappella Society. “The music we choose reflects the personality of the members,” said Darcy Lovell, a member of A Cabellas. Speaking about their track-list, Lovell said, “We picked ones we really like, and ones the audience tends to really like. We pick ones that are kind of fun and upbeat, and that show a little bit of our style. We tend to go old school, more classic rock.” This semester A Cabellas will begin a new project in which they will include more contemporary tracks in their interpretations in addition to the classics. “The best of the best we’ve got,” said Lovell.

Following A Cabellas was Divisi: the second founding member of the Society and an all male group. The button-down shirted male group sang very contemporary songs that went from pop to hip-hop. Their songs included a lot of fast beat boxing and harmonics, chemistry between Divisi’s members clearly showing throughout the whole performance.

They opened their performance with a rendition of Maroon 5’s Misery, very wholeheartedly and aggressive. There was a goo vibe, and the crowd enjoyed every second of it. The members interacted with the crowd, making a lot of eye contact.

They truly set the atmosphere with Jason Mraz’s Wordplay; a song that included fast rapping and beat boxing and catchy choruses that never truly felt too contemporary, but completely meaningful. They quickly upped themselves with a cover of Bruno Mars’ Grenade. Andy Deegan, the director for Divisi, sang every line, hitting every note in the process. Divisi’s constant eye contact and hand movements made their performance very interactive and fun.

They closed their set with an amazing interpretation of Katy Perry’s Fireworks. What made this song better than the rest was the fact that the lack of a computer generated voice showcased the lyrics; uplifting and inspiring the crowd swayed and sung along, to Divisi who concluded the last chorus by mimicking fireworks with their hands, to the laughs of the crowd.

“We try to do a lot of contemporary stuff; while trying to run the whole gambit. You know, try to do some older stuff some newer stuff, trying to reach out to all the audiences,” said Andy Deegan, vice-president of the A Cappella Society and co-director of Divisi. In regards to the interaction between Divisi members and the audience, Deegan commented, “It’s all part of the A Cappella atmosphere; it’s all improvised. The audience interacts with the performer.”

Divisi is planning an energy consuming semester with many different shows coming up including a contest against sister Eastern Connecticut State University’s A Cappella Society. To the incoming freshmen, Deegan would like to invite them to Divisi but to also tryout for other club and activities the campus has to offer.

Last to perform was the newest group to the Society, Too Good For Instruments (TGFI). The wore black and pink skin tight dresses and opened up with a powerful, dramatic song: Mama Who Bore. They set the atmosphere to almost a gangster film; one could expect to be in Chicago in the 20s and Al Capone’s men coming in a shooting you. The rain outside complimented their voices very well, and the crowd grew mesmerized every new line.

They followed with a gut wrenching rendition of Fallin’, a song that truly torn everyone’s heart out of their chest cavity; the notes piercingly singing to the crowd. They turned up the heat with the feminist sympathetic song King of Anything; energizing the crowd in the process to their finale song, the burlesque classic: Lady Marmalade.

The performance turned sensual and even more captivating as four lead singers performed the now classic Christina Aguilera, Maya, Missy Elliott, Lil Kim song. They swayed around the stage, the pointed to the crowd; interacted with lots of eye contact, drawing the men in, and also getting them in trouble with their girlfriends. By the end of the song, the whole crowd wanted to see more.

TGFI is the youngest group in the society, joining it two years ago. They released an album this month called “One Love”, available on-line; and will also be competing in the aforementioned ECSU competition. TGFI’s came in third in the International Collegiate Competition of A Cappella. Theresa Louis, president of the Society and member of TGFI, commented on the release of the album, saying that listeners can expect “exciting music.”

Explaining the versatility of the group, Louis explained that their song choices “basically are a variety of music across many disciplines.” She described the night’s songs as powerful and exciting, and carefully chosen to excite the incoming freshmen class, and audience.

The Overall performance gave the CCSU student body a quick glimpse of what more the A Cappella Society has to offer. All three groups performed extremely well; each one has their specialty that truly brings out their talents.

They are definitely one of the more exciting groups on campus at the moment.

, Louis explained that their song choices “basically are a variety of music across many disciplines.” She described the night’s songs as powerful and exciting, and carefully chosen to excite the incoming freshmen class, and audience.

The Overall performance gave the CCSU student body a quick glimpse of what more the A Cappella Society has to offer. All three groups performed extremely well; each one has their specialty that truly brings out their talents.

They are definitely one of the more exciting groups on campus at the moment.

LMFAO, J.Cole Create a ‘Thunderdome of Careless Festivity’

By Max Kyburz

LMFAO performed in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday. Photo: Kenny Barto.

While it should have been so obvious for the neon leopard print wearing duo LMFAO to make such a quasi-clever replacement of “Miami” with “New Britain,” they were too busy making Kaiser their personal party temple. Their mission was to bring the party to a sold out CCSU crowd, and that they did.

With the semester coming to a close and the kids seeking for something more than just another house party or a game of darts at Elmers (or whatever it is they do there), a couple hours of fun tunes do just the trick. LMFAO is by no means intelligent, but with everyone spending every ounce of brain fuel on biomolecular science and Othello, they supply the stress antidote.

CCSU’s taken a while to fully get a unanimously satiable concert. A few years ago, Busta Rhymes’ three-hour delay nearly caused a severe uproar. Lifehouse was said to have reeled in a pitiful attendance. Big D and the Kids Table was modestly successful, though it attracted more non-students. When LMFAO was announced as the big name for this year’s concert, I can’t say I was totally surprised, but still a little dismayed at the choice. Then again, my choices would have probably turned off even the non-students. Considering the group’s relevancy (especially compared to that of the previous spring concert bands), CAN seemed to have made the right choice.

Still, my anticipation was smeared with dread. Knowing my role as a journalist, my attendance was mandatory. If I wasn’t going to have fun, I at least could have appreciated it as a collegiate anthropological study. The show was bound to bring in throngs of drunk kids, things were likely to go awry and it would have stood as a microcosm of everything CCSU students stand for. This is a party school; it only makes sense that our spring concert reflects that. Again, not my first choice, but life is full of disappointments.

How did I plan to endure the process? The only way I knew how: climbing into a can of Natural Ice, catapulting into another, repeat. I wasn’t going to go in cold, though I began to wonder whether my need for drink was to make the show more tolerable or to make it more fun. Perhaps a little bit of both. When I loopily approached Kaiser Hall, armed with my laminated press pass, the masses waited eagerly. As they got closer to the door security and metal detectors, patrons finished the last of their cigarettes and whatever mysterious brew resided in their red plastic cups. They were about to enter a Thunderdome of careless festivity.

Jason LeVasseur, a self-described “award winning singer-songwriter” from Nashville, Tenn., opened things up with a chilled-out mood. Awkward choice, as it were, seeing how each song was greeted with a hearty chant of “J.Cole! J. Cole! J. Cole!.” (Note to CAN: performers who only tour colleges are never anyone’s bag). Once he was done, the energy grew, as did the crowd. Of course, it was distributed in all the wrong ways; the concert was an hour behind schedule, causing folks to start a couple fights (they must have really not liked that LeVasseur guy). A couple seizures and bowl rips later, rapper J. Cole finally took the stage and the room erupted. Everybody close to the front got moving, as did I. I mean, it was either that or be the token lame judgmental snob in the back of the room.

Of course, when I was moving around, the reactions of those around me made me realize that some people don’t quite understand concert etiquette. It’s a high-energy hip hop show. People are going to be slightly buzzed, assuring that people will be a little sloppy but not always belligerent. Regardless, when I slightly lose control but maintaining my balance, I get evil looks and commands to “stand still.” Right. I’m sorry that I’m stepping on your girlfriend’s sandaled feet, but she chose to wear them, not me. This isn’t a Kenny Chesney show. End of rant.

J. Cole was enough to whip CCSU into a frenzy, making the segue into LMFAO more than accessible. By now all attendees had shown up and though the show was completely sold out, only half of the gymnasium was filled. The space most immediately in front of the stage was packed like drunken sardines, but trailed off towards the back. It was almost like it turned into a bad 8th grade dance three quarters of the way through. Regardless, those who were up front could not have been more amped.

Once the music over the PA quieted, the crowd wailed in anticipation. The DJ for LMFAO got the crowd more excited by spinning some intro tracks, all while members of their crew and CAN threw out complementary glow sticks and t-shirts into the crowd. Two more “band members” took the stage: a ponytailed broseph in leopard print who was mostly likely not playing the not plugged in guitar hanging around his neck, as well as a fresh-looking dude whose only purpose was to background dance. I don’t even think J. Cole has that kind of support (luckily, not many do).

Finally, out came the wolves. LMFAO began thumping and bouncing to a remix of “Eye of the Tiger,” with everyone in the room joining along. They were not there to chill, they came to party. The vibe refused to die down, with the help of flying beach balls, champagne bottles spraying, hoses blasting dry ice and fake money being thrown around. Did I say champagne? I’m assuming it was apple cider, seeing how we are supposed to be a dry campus. Drinking is only appropriate when performed in the comfort of your dorm while your RA pretends to not notice. LMFAO seemed to know the scoop, even though our anti-alcohol rules prevented actual shots going down during their trademark song “Shots (Shots Shots Shots Shots Shots).” Though their music could have inspired enough anarchy as middle class kids in Ed Hardy could cause, the concert was fairly innocuous.

Now if we can just get Lil’ Wayne for next year, we’d all be happy. Just no Jack Johnson wannabes, please.

Monster Energy Outbreak Tour Rocks Hartford

By David Whitney

Rev Theory is a headliner on the Monster Energy Outbreak tour. Photo: David Whitney.

It was a headbangers paradise and a full house at the Webster Theater last Saturday as the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour finally made its way to Connecticut.

Headliners Rev Theory and Pop Evil were greeted with an eager and rowdy crowd, waiting to hear the heavy beats both bands deliver. Pop Evil kicked their set of with the song “Breathe” off their first album, Lipstick on a Mirror.

Although bassist Matt DiRito’s volume sounded a bit distorted, the intensity of the crowd showed no bother from it.  They’d also follow every instruction the band through at the crowd. When they yelled jump, you’d better believe the entire audience did just that.

Pop Evil continued their set with the new hit single “Last Man Standing.” The popularity of the in-your-face song has spread through the country and has been used on ESPN broadcasts for sports such as NASCAR.

Head singer Leigh Kakaty would say during their short set, “…Hartford is like a second home to us.”

When asked what he meant by that, Kakaty said, “It’s the crowd here, the crowd really believes in this rock and roll.”

With plenty of sweat and fog machine smell in the air, New York City’s Rev Theory took the stage and hit it hard with a brand new song called “Dead in the Grave” off the band’s third album, Justice. The pervasive lyrics and catchy chorus got the crowd out of control and the mosh pit even bigger.

Soon after, front-man Rich Luzzi appeared to hurt his vocal cords and was seen numerous times leaving the stage to give his voice a rest.  After a few swigs of some Monster Energy drink, Luzzi seemed recharged and was soon screaming while waving the middle finger.

All in all, the fans came for a show and were well satisfied.  Several other bands were able to grace the Webster stage including Aranda, B.B.C. and Crossing Rubicon.

Pop Evil’s second album is due in stores this year as Rev Theory’s new CD hit shelves last month.

An Evening with the Connecticut Trio

By Max Kyburz

I must admit to something: my knowledge of classical music is brief and scarce. Naturally, I can appreciate it; I have miscellaneous tracks from Mozart and Beethoven and can recognize those instantly. If you were to play me a random piece of symphonic music and told me it was composed by a famous artist, I would not be able to pick out who the composer was. Arensky? Schubert? Beats me.

I do, however, know almost every “Weird Al” Yankovic song verbatim. But I digress.

My appreciation for classical was greatly improved this past Tuesday. I hold CCSU responsible, as they hosted a scholarship benefit concert led by the Connecticut Trio, a string ensemble that has spread their musical virtuosity worldwide.

The concert took place in tranquil Founders Hall, a venue for many prestigious lectures and events. It was certainly a peaceful occasion; the room’s elegance was enhanced by the evening’s outer darkness. It was a semi-formal affair; some were in their Sunday best, while others dressed casual. The space itself, with all its furnishings, felt intimate; it was like a private event in a wealthy socialite’s living room.

There were students, families and neighboring townsfolk, and it was nice to see such diversity. Albeit some were a little bit more attentive than others (who were either sleeping or finding another form of distraction), and even I had my fill before the end, but it had nothing to do with the trio’s performance.

The Connecticut Trio, founded in 1994, is a highly decorated troupe; pianist Linda Laurent is a Ph.D. from New York University, violinist Gerard Rosa studied at Yale and received the Houpt Award, and cellist Julie Ribchinsky is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. One seminal performance at Carnegie Recital Hall together encouraged them to permanently unite as a collective, igniting several years of performances, both local and abroad.

This one particular performance was the most recent of many the trio has enacted at CCSU. As resident professors of music at the university, they have solidified their authority of musical finesse. They approached the floor to unanimous applause, and by the looks on the trio’s faces, they genuinely felt welcome. They began their evening revue with Schubert’s Trio in B-Flat, a progressive suite of several moods and complexities. Starting out gentle, the music turned brood, and would often return to rousing form. The biggest revelation was the fellowship among the trio’s members, forgoing any chance of error.

Following the intermission, the trio returned to perform the Trio in D-Minor by Russian composer Anton Arensky, a far more dynamic collection that showcased each member individually. The piano playing proved itself flawless, the string plucks providing a haunted mood. Such emotional, dense music requires a great deal from its audience; you either have to fully immerse yourself in it or you may not get it.

The performance inspired a standing ovation at the end, and it was well deserved. The Connecticut Trio had provided a serious night’s entertainment, and all for the low price of zero dollars. Such festivities provide a glimmering hint of class that recurs at CCSU every so often.

Brownbird Rudy Relic Jumps and Hollers in Hartford

By Max Kyburz

The spirit of early 20th century blues was alive and well at Black-Eyed Sallys in Hartford on Thursday night. Chicano blues junkie Brownbird Rudy Relic, along with traveling companion Orb Mellon, gave a set that undoubtedly turned Sally’s eyes from black to bleeding.

For the record, the guest of honor decries any form of domestic violence.

The night began with a set from longtime compatriot Orb Mellon, a similarly well-dressed bandit from New York. His jacket neatly nestled around his chair, Orb rocked out via guitar and harmonica. His odd vocal stylings are a unique match for his foot stomping acoustic ditties, amplified by rear in gear harmonica shredding. It was a worthy set that put the audience in the mood for what was to come.

For those who don’t know, Brownbird describes himself as a “New York City Holler Blues Dynamo.” Armed only with a resonator guitar and kazoo, Brownbird swears off electricity (even music can be “green”) and delivers a raw, energetic set of booming blues emulated from legends like Leadbelly and Robert Johnson. While he derives from these old masters of steel guitar, many of his songs derive from 80s punk rock; he often switches from traditional ballads to fast paced jams that outdo bands like Rancid and The Casualties.

Though he sits for much of his set, Brownbird’s hardly still; his feet constantly flailing, he often explodes into punk rock guitar leaps and Angus Young-influenced conniption fits. He’s even mastered the “chairwalk,” a move which involves him playing while standing on his chair and shifting it forward. For his finale, he lept from the stage, over a friend, and onto the floor Evel Kenievel-style. If that’s not rock ‘n’ roll, then I’m a responsible student.

The crowd was a mix of friends, fans, and innocent bystanders unknowingly becoming witness to the biggest blues explosion since John Spencer. Oh, and there was one annoying guy dancing unabashedly. As one of my compadres fittingly said, “I remember my first beer.”

Nevertheless, the performance won the crowd over. Brownbird’s set consisted strictly of old favorites, most of them from his album Anti-Stereo Acoustic Holler Blues (recorded entirely with 1950s equipment). His one cover song, dedicated to the bar’s kitchen staff, was a traditional tune titled “El Rey.” I personally would have liked to hear some newer material, but I can’t complain.

Rather than exist as a carbon-copy, Brownbird adds his own flavor to the mix. Aside from the mariachi cover, Brownbird made many references to his love of Mariah Carey. Quite a ballsy move on his part, considering I know very few men who would admit to such. The influence is apparent; some of his stylings are laced with vocal runs. Plus he can hardly resist covering 90s R&B a cappella. Don’t ask me how he makes it work, he just does.

Having seen Brownbird twice now, I was once again impressed by his unwavering charisma and organic energy (look him up on YouTube). He played a 45 minute set, which, given all of his acrobatics, was probably a good thing. As he stated during midset, a longer set would have probably killed him. Tell ‘em, Brown.

All Time Low’s Small Package Sells Out Underground

By Brittany Burke

Pop-punk foursome All Time Low took their talent and crude humor to the Webster Underground Wednesday for the third stop of the “My Small Package” tour.

Members, Alex Gaskarth, Jack Barakat, Zack Merrick and Rian Dawson have proven time and time again that they are capable of selling out the Webster’s main theater, but this tour wasn’t about large crowds. It’s about getting back to where they began by playing nothing but small venues.

Accompanied by A Rocket to the Moon, City Comma State and Before You Exit, All Time Low managed to create pure mayhem amongst the hardcore fans, proving good things do come in small packages.

ATL kicked off their set with “Damned If I Do Ya, Damned If I Don’t,” immediately followed by “Stella” and “Lost in Stereo,” off the band’s latest record, Nothing Personal all before introductions were made. The upbeat songs brought the life back into the venue and got the audience chanting for more.

The highlight of the night came about halfway through the set when the band obliged to the pleading fans and played “Circles” from their 2005 album, The Party Scene. It was apparent that the band hadn’t played or practiced the song in years, when lead singer, Gaskarth screwed up the chorus causing the rest of the members to stop half way through before regaining their composure to finish the song.

The looks on the band’s faces emitted nothing but astonishment as the kids in front of them ignored the mistake and continued to sing the lyrics of the five-year old song back at them, personifying what the “My Small Package Tour” is about.

It is a true throwback tour that commemorates how far they’ve actually come.

Despite the small stage, ATL made it a point not to downplay their over the top frat boy antics. Bras were collected on the mic stands, penis jokes were made (especially about their own small packages) and plans were set for an after show shower party including the band and sold out crowd, which is nothing out of the ordinary for an ATL concert.

What set the show apart was the intimacy offered by the Underground. The band was stripped of their elaborate sets of flashing lights and fog machines, leaving them nothing but their instruments and vocals.

The set list was a thorough mix of past and present. Shying away from Nothing Personal, the band proceeded to play older hits such as “Coffee Shop Soundtrack,” “Vegas,” and “Running from Lions,” per the request of a fan in the audience.

The grand finale was “Six Feet Under the Stars” and a song about a local stripper, “Dear Maria Count Me In.”

The performance was a proven showcase of talent, indicating that there’s still a lot more to expect out of All Time Low in the future.

The band will continue with the tour through mid-November before gearing up for the release of their latest album, Dirty Work in early 2011.