Friday, April 27, 2012

The OU Society of Professional Journalists presents: Battle of the Bands / April 26, 2012 / The Union

By: Nadia Kurtz, Staff Writer
Photos By: Nadia Kurtz

Tonight at The Union, a little friendly competition was in the air.   The local bar was hosting a Battle of the Bands between Ohio University’s own Friends In Distraction and The Lost Boys.  The two bands have totally different styles, but they both kept the audience rocking until the end.

The Lost Boys dominated the first act, opening with a beautiful “Amazing Grace” cover played by Ben Leeson on the accordion.  When Mitchell Toler and Kyle Stansell joined in singing in perfect harmony, you know the show is about to be good.

The band of Ohio University freshmen formed only last quarter.  Since then the multi-talented musicians have put together an impressive repertoire of original songs along with a number of well-arranged covers.  The band has been seen at The Front Room and Donkey Coffee and performed their first official show last Friday alongside none other but tonight’s competition.

After their impressive opening, things began to go slightly awry.  The sound was muffled and the microphones were screaming.  As cringe-worthy as it was at first, The Lost Boys  easily masked the awful sound with their upbeat tunes.  Mitch gets the crowd moving with his original “My Hearse” while Ben is on the keyboard and Kyle joins in on the chorus with his signature falsetto.

Kyle then performs his only original of the show as front-man while Mitch comes in with his sporadic guitar solos and jumping all over the stage as usual.

Next, we begin to see some variety.  Kyle moves to the back on the cajon drum and sings background harmonies while Ben takes the front.  His husky yet melodic voice hushes the crowd with his original, “Noise.”  Then the band goes into some of their catchier songs and gets the crowd clapping along to “Redundant Days” and “My Confusion.”  At this point, Ben is on the ukelele which adds a tinkling melodic effect.  Kyle then comes in on the accordion for their second to last song, “Crumbling.”  This song slows things down a bit.

It does not last long, however, as The Lost Boys close their set with the crowd-favorite, a cover of “Shout.”  By the end of their act, the band has the crowd dancing and screaming the words to the song.  The Lost Boys were definitely a hit.

Next up was a slightly different band both musically and content-wise.  Friends In Distraction are folksy, crazy, and somewhat obscene lyrically.  But who doesn’t like a band with a rebellious side?

The three-member band has been playing together since last quarter as well, with sophomore Dan Baker as their frontman, freshman Garrett Hood on lead guitar and freshman Dylan Sams on the djembe drum.

The band starts off their performance with an upbeat cover of “Your Gonna Go Far Kid” originally by The Offspring.  The start to act two is quite shaky as the sound is back to being awful and you can hardly hear Dan singing.  The trio, or rather Dan, puts on quite a show, however, as he runs all over the stage like a mad-man.

The band is pretty much a combination of folk and rock and are continually upbeat.  Dan goes into an original called “1993,” the sound is adjusted, and then they're rolling with Dylan going to town on the djembe.  They reel in the crowd with some audience participation, and then transition into a lengthy ballad called “Nester.”

Then the band plays a song called “Caked.”  If you have been to Front Room for open mic night, I guarantee you have heard this song.  Dan invites anyone who knows the lyrics to the stage and the crowd goes nuts.

The next song is quite different.  Dan switches over to a midi controller and Garrett takes the mic.  Next is a cover of “Oh, Comely” by Neutral Milk Hotel, which slows down the overall pace of the show.

The mic goes back to Dan as he invites a childhood friend to the stage and sings about his hometown, New Jersey, in an original called “Colonia.”  The band closes the show while the crowd is clapping along and obviously wanting more.  Unfortunately though, the show is over and a decision must be made.

It was difficult at that point to come up with a winner.  The show had been pretty consistent as far as excitement from the audience went.  Both bands were totally different in style but really revved up the mood and had a lot of versatility.  As both bands and the audience anxiously awaited the announcement which band would win the five hours of free studio time (which is the winning prize), the verdict came: and the winners are The Lost Boys!

The crowd went wild, of course, including Friends In Distraction.  The Lost Boys graciously took their award and offered to split the five hours between the two bands.  I think it is safe to say the night was a success.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Sweetback Sisters / April 25, 2012 / ARTS West

By: Haylee Pearl, Contributor
Photos By: Haylee Pearl

My friend Lindsey comes from a small, country music-loving town in Ohio, and before our night with The Sweetback Sisters at ARTS West was over, she was basically in tears.

“Good country music just touches your heart, you know!?” she said more than a few times.

While Lindsey was losing herself, I think the rest of the small crowd – about 30 non-employees and maybe even a handful of other young adults – were having similarly heartwarming experiences as well.

The Sweetback Sisters, a Brooklyn-based band that plays old-timey country classics as well as some genre-faithful originals, swung by Athens on the first night of the latest leg of their tour to play enthusiastic Americana to the tiny but receptive audience.

ARTS West is housed in a repurposed church that sits just outside of walking distance from the main campus, and it’s a secondary attraction at best for most students. And even though watching a concert from a pew is every bit as awkward as you think it is, the way the sound carries through the high ceilings quickly rules out any reservations about seating arrangements.

They won us over immediately when they opened their set with Patsy Cline’s “Love Me, Honey, Do,” an impossibly charming doo-wop tune complete with contributions from electric guitar, upright bass and fiddle.

It was the first of many cover songs of the night, of which there were 13 in the 23-song set. In fact, band leader Emily Miller was kind enough to introduce each song by name and original performer, which is the only reason why I was able to include any track titles in this post at all (see below.) I like music a lot, but I am not familiar with the every nook and cranny of the history of folk music, I promise you.

Miller shared center stage, and matching outfits, with co-vocalist Zara Bode, who has a commanding stage presence and a powerful voice. Bode has a background in musical theatre, and it’s easy to tell that she’s an actress when one watches her perform. Whether she’s singing with sorrow on “The Heart of My Mind” or sauciness on “Looking For A Fight,” the emotion of each song plays out on her face, and it’s hard to take your eyes off her.

The rest of the group kept up the showmanship vibe with matching blue jeans and plaid shirts. Peter Bitenc handled the upright bass, Stefan Amidon was on drums and new addition Ryan Hommel played electric guitar in what was his first gig with the Sweetback Sisters. Fiddle virtuoso and primary songwriter Jesse Milnes contributed to both lead and background vocals, but mostly kept to his corner of the stage and let the ladies lead the way.

Most of the original material came from their latest album, Looking For a Fight, but they also had a fair share of new songs that they haven’t gotten around to recording yet.

Highlights of the night included a jazzy rendition of Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues,” a cover of “Your Silver Tongue and Gold-Plated Lies” from Athens-area songwriter JD Hutchinson, and an original from Milnes called “Too Many Experts in the Barroom” that Miller mused was probably about the fiddler’s days as a philosophy major at Haverford College.

They sealed it up with a new song called “I’m Gonna Cry” that the music blog Music Fog made a video for recently while the band was in Austin, Texas, for SXSW, and the miniature crowd was thrilled by its catchiness and tongue-in-cheek lyrics.

It’s obvious that the band has tremendous respect for staying faithful to their folksy forefathers, and it’s that redolence that elicits nostalgia from the listener, or, at least, from Lindsey.

“That was great!” she said at the end of the night. “It’s been so long since I’ve heard good country music!”

The country-music cynics of the world are missing out on the joy of a foot-stomping fiddle jam, just like the Uptown-addicts who won’t wander a little farther down State Street missed out on The Sweetback Sisters’ honest, old-timey material that made a chilly little church feel like home.

We bought some CDs, thanked the band for coming, and then I think Lindsey went back to her dorm and called her mom.

  1. "Love Me, Honey, Do" - Patsy Cline
  2. "It Won't Hurt When I Fall Down From This Barstool" - Dwight Yoakam
  3. "Looking for a Fight" - Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)
  4. "Walkin' in my Sleep" 
  5. "Run Home and Cry" - Sweetback Sisters (Miller)
  6. "Don't Cry to Me" - Jimmy Martin
  7. "Lovesick Blues" - Hank Williams
  8. "Your Silver Tongue and Gold-Plated Lies" - JD Hutchinson
  9. "Deputy Blues No. 2" - Josh Ritter
  10. "Too Many Experts in the Barroom" - Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)
  11. "Rattled" - Traveling Wilburys
  12. "Be Back Home Tonight" - Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)
  13. "Texas Bluebonnets" - Laurie Lewis
  14. "Thank You" -Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)
  15. "Don't Put Her Down, You Helped Put Her There" - Hazel Dickens
  16. "Trouble's Gonna Get You" - Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)
  17. "Just That Kind of Guy" - Sweetback Sisters (Bode)
  18. "King of Killin' Time" - Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)
  19. "Cowboy Ham & Eggs" - Roy Rogers
  20. "Stormy Waters" - Jimmy Martin
  21. "The Heart of my Mind" - Sweetback Sisters (Ross Bellenoit)
  22. "The Rockabye Boogie" - The Davis Sisters
  23. "I'm Gonna Cry" - Sweetback Sisters (Milnes)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dub 101 Tour / April 20 / The Union

By: Kyle Rutherford, Staff Writer
Photos By: Kyle Rutherford

The second installment of the Cumulus Entertainment's Dub 101 tour to hit Athens this season was in was in full swing at The Union Friday night. A sort of a 4/20 celebration (and yes, many mentions of the counterculture holiday were made), Cumulus brought in High Chai Recordings' Slave out of Kent, Ohio, to blister the faces of anyone that set foot within the small venue.

First to spin was Captain PlannedIT, who was probably the most eclectic DJ to play the entire night. Going on first with the crowd slowly trickling in, the bass his electro house and dubstep mixes had a greater affect on the rattling of the venue and some or our brains. Yes, his bass was heavy, but it was never too heavy that is caused people to stop dancing...or breathing. DJing using Traktor as well as adding in his own samples and self-produced drum parts out of Ableton Live, Captain PlannedIT (aka Jason Karikas) played some more popular EDM (Electronic Dance Music) tunes, with a glitched-out, yet less bass heavy remix of the ever so popular "Sandstorm" taking hold at one point, as well as Skrillex's "Right In." But the craziest and most original thing about Karikas was that he played an alto saxophone over a few parts of some songs. Sounds different, but it was lively and fun.

Next out was DJ Technician (Brett Bernardo) from Springfield, Ohio. When Bernardo gets on stage and mixes, the musical feel is as of something you would hear in the UK or in an underground Los Angeles club pre-2010. Bernardo typically starts out with some chill, glitchy bass music that sounds like something you could fall asleep to. Moving forward, the bass gets deeper and some dubstep wobbles are prevalent, but it all stays within the realm of classic UK bass and dubstep music. Even with Bernardo yelling at to the crowd "Ya'll want to hear some dubstep?", attendees didn't get their Americanized brostep that it was obvious that they wanted. Just like February's Love and Light show, no matter the bass, jungle beats, or wobbles, some people just can't get a hold of classic dubstep and bass music, which is dearly unfortunate because DJ Technician is one of the better DJs of that genre that I have seen.

Third out was Columbus's Kingpin (James Castrillo), a 4 -year DJ that plays everything from glitchy house to moombathon, which hits close to home for Castrillo because of his Latino roots. Starting heavy as hell, Kingpin played the sort of stuff you'd hear from a club DJ, but did tend to play music that some attendees could only stand around and looked oddly confused to, such as Deadmau5's "Cthulhu Sleeps" and some moombathon, which gave Castrillo the chance to come out on to the floor and dance for a little while. But the bangers were still there, from roeVy, to Kill the Noize, to Porter Robinson. All in all, Castrillo definitely warmed the crowd up for the headliner.

If only one word could describe DJ/producer Slave's set it could only be heavyashell. Starting heavy with an (obviously) cannabis inspired dubstep track, the 21 year old David Timko stayed heavy throughout, playing mostly electro house and dubstep. Timko was able to make things seem easy when mixing, playing many club bangers like Borgore's "Flex(Document One Remix), practically balling energy up in his hands and throwing it out onto the dance floor. The coolest mix session (for me at least) that took place was a straight, effortless mix of "Fire Hive" by Knife Party, "Bass Cannon" by Flux Pavilion, and the Noisia remix of "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites" by Skrillex. Also mixing in KDrew's remix of "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye (a song whose remixes have become a staple for professional and amateur DJs everywhere), dubheads were pleased throughout Timko's entire set.

Last out was Dayton's Elton Mack, a seasoned DJ who runs a group called Run DDT (Dayton Dub Tribe) and has even been a resident DJ at Dayton's Club, Masque, doing Thursday dubstep shows for six months. Mack's set was what one would expect to step into whilst at a club, combing heavy remixes of rap and hip-hop tunes, but mixing in softer remixes of "Dani California" by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Obviously the dubstep and even the drum and bass influences were superior, but the occasional dance and house music made the now smaller crowd jump. Mack played what clubbers would love, but throwing in heavy bass and closing with a remix of "Hit the Road Jack," he was able to play something that everybody could like and that everyone would dance to.

Friday, April 6, 2012

ACRN Presents: Tiny Moving Parts, BFF, Difficult Dogs, Sign Off / April 5 / Smiling Skull

By: Sam Boyer, Staff Writer / '90s Blogger

Shows at the Skull can go one of two ways: Appalachian-friendly country jam sessions, or all-out punk rock mayhem.

Thursday night was definitely the latter.

When I approached the Skull, I could already hear the guttural screams of Sign Off threatening to blow the wooden door wide open.

“Well, this is going to be interesting,” I remarked to my concert buddy, Carolyn Menyes.

We took the two or three steps to the general vicinity of the stage and stood near the back of the crowd. I immediately noticed that the audience had basically segregated itself into the boy camp and the girl camp. The boys stood at the front taking in the action, while the girls hung back and stared bemusedly at the band.

I was honestly a little wary of Sign Off at first. The abrasive vocals caught me off guard, but I gave them a chance and it was worth it.

They had this filthy grunge sound that rubbed me the right way. It was a little reminiscent of the Melvins. The bass was sludgy (in a good way), but still had that punk rock bounce to it. Though it’s obvious that I’m partial to bass, I was also really impressed with the drum work. The beat was clean enough to stand out, but also kept the guitar and bass on the same page. I recall giving the drummer a polite golf clap at the end of a song (you know, out of respect.)

What really made Sign Off’s set interesting was the crowd’s response. A handful of guys standing at the front was getting really into it. I noticed a few of them singing (screaming?) along to some of the songs. It really warms my heart to see a smaller band connect with an audience like that.
I particularly loved the synchronized head bobbing going on. The one thought going through my head was, “Yes, my little grunge chickens. Dance. DANCE.”

Things lightened up a bit when BFF took the stage. They had more of a blink-182(ish) pop-punk sound, which was a nice contrast to the heaviness of Sign Off. Their crowd was noticeably larger, but their set was fairly short and I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t get to hear more.

Though I unfortunately had to miss Tiny Moving Parts and Difficult Dogs, I’m sure they did a great job. I’ll catch you guys another time, I promise.

Oh, and Sign Off? You get the Rad Band of the Night award. Congrats!

Dub 101 Tour / April 6 / The Union

By: Kyle Rutherford, Staff Writer
Photos By: Kyle Rutherford

The Union exploded Thursday night when the Dub 101 crew rolled in, bringing along quite possibly the biggest electronic music act ever to Athens

First to spin was DJ Pro Bono, a 5th year recreation management senior from OU. Pro Bono's set was chill, with a high emphasis on hip-hop and rap mixed into drum and bass, drumstep, and classic dubstep. It took him most of his set to bring in some bangers, but he was able to make everything he played danceable. Pro Bono says that he is just starting to produce his own music.

Second up was Easty, an Athens local and Casa employee, who played a heavy dubstep set. His set had an emphasis on classic British style, but it also brought in super heavy bass songs. There was less rap and hip-hop influence, but glitchy stuff progressed into heavier stuff that was better to dance to. Easty said he will be releasing some original material soon.

The first touring act was Thunder St. Clair, who countered Easty's heavy dubstep set with another heavy dubstep set. He was able to mix any kind of dubstep together, transitioning well and throwing in a tons of dance tracks, all with a heavy bass twist. Thunder St. Clair got his start about four years ago, stemming from his college graduation party. He put on the first ever dubstep party in Cleveland, and still continues to put on these parties. He is heavy influenced by producers like Machine Drum and Starkey, and has opened for huge producers, like !2th Planet and Datsik.

Fourth out was Carma, out of the company My Best Friends Party. A DJ of about 7 years, Carma played more of a dance dubstep set, using tracks like "Fire Hive" by Knife Party, transitioned into remixes of popular Top 40 songs, like "Niggas in Paris" by Jay-Z & Kanye West. Since his initially playing dance music, Carma has risen to playing a mess of club shows in Columbus through MBFP.

A little background before I go into Crizzly's set. Born in Texas as Chris Marshall, Crizzly has only been DJing for about 4 years, which isn't band, considering he is only 19 now. Chris started his career playing high school parties and school dances, progressing into producing about two years ago. Marshall's sound can be described as crunkstep, a near epileptic mixture of mid-2000's style rap and hip-hop, mixed with drum-and-bass, heavy dubstep and drumstep. Though he doesn't have any original music slated for release, Crizzly's remixes are being spun by popular DJ's/producers worldwide.

Only one word can truly describe his set: insane. From start to finish, the music was heavy and the crowd was going crazy. Pro Bono's alter-ego as MC Drunken Assassin conducted the crowd through the insanity, rarely straying from spitting commands into the mic, as well as hyping everyone up. Some of Crizzly's most memorable drops were his remixes of "Hard in Da Paint" by Waka Flocka Flame, the internet famous "Big Booty Bitches" and "Go Hard" by Dream. The most memorable mix for me was his remix of "Dat Ass" by Logun and "Bass Cannon" by Flux Pavilion. The track about literally blew my mind, and I know for a fact that the faces of everyone in attendance were melted off.