WHUS punk concert overloads Art Building

Musician Brian Frenette performs during WHUS' concert at UConn's Art Building on Friday, Sept. 18, 2015. (Allan Lang/The Daily Campus)

WHUS’s first concert of the semester featured four bands for a three-hour warm, noisy embrace in a small Art Building classroom. Alex G, Kal Marks, Blessed State and Nine of Swords put on a lively and visceral show.

At the show’s climax, Philadelphia-based four-piece Alex G gave the crowd a dreamy yet abrasive 40 minutes punctuated by a few earnest shouts. The room filled with crunching guitars and the endearing kind of sarcastic enthusiasm that made up the frontman’s persona.

The punk rock show, when done properly, is a full-body, sensory experience. By Alex G’s performance, the crowd was properly numbed by the confined space, loud guitars and curios intimacy of the performance. Each band came offstage tired and sweaty, a tribute to their dedication.

Alex G’s music style is eclectic and difficult to classify. What can be said is that it invites the crowd to listen more closely even if they were already deafened. The instrumentation was sometimes lively, sometimes trippy and always engaging. The vocals added to the guitars while toying with them.

In keeping with punk rock tradition, WHUS offered to sharpie black X’s onto concertgoers’ hands, usually reserved for minors at bar shows. It was unnecessary for a dry event, but still a charming effort to set the tone.

Boston’s Kal Marks brought a powerful and contemplative sound. It was a rhythmic engrossing noise that the crowd was happy to get lost in. It worked especially well with the suburban scenes of grass and butterflies displayed on projector behind them.

Blessed State was a little more traditionally punk in sound and persona than their cohorts. A five-piece from Northampton, Mass., Blessed State’s music was crashing and fast with some sweet melodies, punchy guitar leads and excellent bass lines. Stylistically they fell somewhere between Husker Dü and Lifetime.

Nine of Swords made for a forceful opener. Their style verged on hardcore, with plenty of energy and aggression. Typically, the opening act’s primary job is to get the audience acclimated to the amplifiers’ warm embrace, but the New York City four-piece went above and beyond. Their vocalist’s jumping and drummer’s shirtlessness were key to giving the concert some authenticity.

The crowd in the Art Building classroom had fluxed to about a hundred attendants by Kal Marks’ set. There were standing in close quarters but generally too mild mannered to mosh, except for about four short-lived circles late in the night. Mostly the crowd bopped heads rhythmically.

“It was loud, fun and satisfying,” 5th-semester economics and political science major, Joey Fong said.

“It was something like that time I got yelled at by a nun for accidently infiltrating the communion line,” 3rd-semester English major, Jes Ling said, “except the nun was a sick tune and I wasn’t the only one being yelled at.”


Christopher McDermott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at christopher.mcdermott@uconn.edu.