By 9:00 p.m. on school nights, the Johnson Center is usually pretty quiet. But on just the second day of classes, students converged on the Johnson Center Memorial Chapel—and it was a few decibels louder than normal, to say the least.
A Minor Bird, Shaw’s Landing, and Great Seal performed as part of the Kick Off Concert presented by S.A.C. Concert admission was free, and all three bands with significant ties to Malone put on a great show that helped to jump-start the semester.
Great Seal took the stage first. Fronted by vocalist Zach Wolfe, a senior commercial music technology major, the four-piece alternative rock band quickly got the crowd’s attention with some earnest and catchy songs.
Their set was mostly upbeat, as evidenced in the optimistic rocker “Now or Never.” However, they also delved into some slower fare with songs like “Capitol City.” This song in particular seemed to capture the essence of the season of summer transitioning to fall.
Overall, Great Seal delivered a very good set. With a sound that was both radio-friendly and original, I could see them winning a much larger fan base in the future. The band will be opening for Seabird at Musica in Akron on Sept. 26.
Drummer Jordan Morrison, senior music education major, commented on some of the challenges of playing in front of fellow students as opposed to strangers.
“It’s kind of more daunting,” Morrison said. He pointed out that many of the people in the audience were fellow musicians, which increased the pressure to perform well.
In addition to knowing people in the crowd, all three of the bands have a history of knowing each other.
“At one point in time, we were all practicing in the same house,” Morrison said.
Kyler Morrison, bassist for Shaw’s Landing and a former Malone student, elaborated on the relationship between the three bands.
“We just support each other,” he said.
This friendship carried over into the concert. As the bands moved their equipment between sets and chatted at the merchandise tables, I got the impression the bands really were just a group of friends who happened to be playing a show together.
Shaw’s Landing followed Great Seal. A four-piece band as well, Shaw’s Landing had a markedly heavier sound. Their songs often featured intense build-ups carried along by screams and dramatic shifts in volume. At times, their style reminded me of Brand New’s more recent material.
The band had a lot of energy on stage and seemed to feed off their brooding, cathartic sound, which flirted with metal at some points. The crowd, which numbered approximately 120 people earlier in the concert, pressed toward the stage during the set.
Shaw’s Landing is currently recording an album with Malone professor Dave Seymour at The Ranch recording studio. According to bassist Kyler Morrison, the album is expected to be released in late spring or early summer 2011.
The last band of the evening was A Minor Bird. Lead vocalist and guitarist Kevin Embleton, senior music ministry major, began the set by playing the first song amongst the crowd off-stage. The four-piece band executed their brand of indie rock well, mainly playing songs from their EP, Where the River Breaks Free, which was released earlier this year.
After playing “Occurrence at the Well,” A Minor Bird seemed to be done with their set. However, after the crowd began chanting for “one more song,” the band returned and played an encore, “Rising Moon.”
Interestingly enough, the Johnson Center Memorial Chapel was the site of A Minor Bird’s first live performance as a band in April 2009.
“It’s kind of nostalgic for us,” said guitarist and vocalist John King, junior business administration major.
The concert ended at about 11:30 p.m. as students returned to their dorms and campus grew quiet again. But for several hours, the volume was cranked up as three bands delivered a thoroughly enjoyable concert to usher in the new school year. It was an event that left me—and, if the size of the crowd was any indication, many others—wanting to hear more.
Jesse Peek staff writer for The Aviso.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment