By : Graham Johnson
Recently, I’ve begun to fall under the impression that all of the best shows in this town have a tendency to sneak up on you. (Not subscribing to Facebook certainly strengthens this notion.) I discovered the very definition this past Friday night in a performance at The Midnight in downtown. I worked that day, as one does, and a friend and I were planning on hitting Depot Park and skating around for a bit, or at least until they told us to leave. We were doing just that when my roommate rang and informed me that Rosemary Kennedy would be playing at The Midnight; we decided that it was in our best interest to go swoon, faint and all that one does at a Rosemary Kennedy show. Once we arrived, and due to my lack of technological advancements of our modern age (social media,) I finally was privileged to learn the lineup.
The first of bands to take the stage was one woman act, ‘Jenarchy,’ who set the stage with a low-toned Les Paul driving through an Orange amplifier and into the hearts of, at the very least, the portion of the crowd that was standing in front of the stage. On top of this, were laid sparkly vocal melodies that succeeded in popping out to the crowd in every phrase. However, the gem of ‘Jenarchy’s’ entire set, believe it or not, was the drum machine. Fondly referred to by Jen as ‘this machine,’ the level of time and care that was put into the programming of said device borders on insanity, and I loved every second. Though, she didn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression and brought it to my attention that a portion of her percussion was created in collaboration with other drummers and artists. One line was even collaborated on by a member of hometown heroes, ‘Less Than Jake.’ All in all, a description I heard in passing that night might be the best I’ve heard of her: “I think she’s female Fall Out Boy.” Will definitely be catching her at another show.
Jenarchy rockin’ out to the crowd at The Midnight.
Shortly after Jen left the stage, I was treated to another band that I’ve not caught yet in the form of ‘Graham Snuggs,’ from Tallahassee. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about what he might sound like. Don’t judge a book by its cover and all that, but hey — I’m a music journalist. See, Graham plays a Taylor acoustic, and at that show, exclusively so. His first song featured full heavy chords and the higher, twangier tone of the Taylor was beginning to resonate and cut through its own tone. However, this was quickly put to rest as Graham began to hop aboard a train of single note progressions and flamenco style picking. Fortunately, to round out that high tone, Graham’s fiancé, Lindsey Langston, had a warm toned Casio that sounded as if it was modeling a Rhodes and doing a great job. She stuck to nice wavy pad, chords and tones for most of the show that really brought the entire sound’s bottom end into the crowd. All the while, Graham is talking/singing/screaming his heart out onto the table and cordially inviting everyone in the room to take a look. At one point, he took to the piano just so he could sing to his fiancé across the room. Probably the most genuine band I’ve seen in a while.
Graham Snuggs and Lindsey Langston serenading the crowd at The Midnight.
Next up is most definitely a personal favorite next to RK, ‘Alumine.’ I’ve seen the band only once before at Loosey’s Downtown, but they have a tendency to open up hard and fast and retain a lot of that speed throughout the set. They tend to bank fuzzy guitars off of spacey clean ones, then fuzz out everything for a bit to then drop back down into a chill groove just to set you up for the next peak. I’m absolutely in love with the vocal melodies, and how they fit so perfectly over the rest of the instruments. Even though I don’t know the words, I find myself still doing my level best to sing along. Alumine is definitely a band that I want to learn lyrics for.
Alumine sharing their pain and excitement with the crowd at The Midnight.
At long last, I get to geek out over Rosemary Kennedy for a moment. I have never ever seen a band that does as good of a job at throwing some electricity into a crowd. Charlie has so much spirit and soul to translate to the crowd through that microphone and he never cuts a corner. His Washburn grits everything up underneath his beautiful vocals and is cradled by the warm, heavy, and sometimes rattle-laden tone of Collin’s bass. Jen does an amazing job every time, of keeping the airship afloat and empowering the entire sound with perfect timing and wonderfully heavy-handed strikes.
However, my favorite part is always Sim’s trancey keys that smoothly slide around throughout the bands tonality as a moccasin through a pond. Which, at this show in particular, had begun to find the edges of the PA’s range, and brought in bits of feedback that reacted perfectly with the keys to create a dissonant vibration that further enlarged the overall sound of their last tune, French Exit. Joining this beautiful band of pirates at this show was a new addition in the form of a lead guitarist named Marvin. Marvin was cool. He played sweet licks and smiled a lot. His tone was like movie theater popcorn butter, drizzling down through all of the empty spaces to make sure and coat every last kernel of the Rosemary Kennedy sound.
Rosemary Kennedy pouring their souls and passion out to the mere mortals of The Midnight.
I left this show better than it had found me and I am stoked to see any one of these bands again sometime. But, for now, I hope to see all of them, all of you, and the rest of the explored world, at FEST 15 Oct. 28th through the 30th. Be there, or be square.