Even though someone accidentally turned the lights on during their set, it was Vundabar who was lights out at the WHUS hosted “Mischief After Dark” concert.
The University of Connecticut’s student radio station, WHUS, hosted a concert in the student union ballroom Saturday night, headlined by Pinegrove and Vundabar. Reduction Plan and Skating opened for the headliners.
While it felt like the anticipation of Pinegrove had been building up the whole night, Vundabar stole the show before Pinegrove went on. With a surprisingly full sound for a three-piece band, Vundabar had an exceptionally infectious energy as front man Brandon Hagen bobbed his hair back and forth, his tongue unraveling out of his mouth while drummer Drew McDonald was a maniac on the set. McDonald’s performance, loud and aggressive but controlled, effectively captured the essence of the band practically forcing people to bang their heads. He slammed on his ride cymbal with conviction, and it was undoubtedly well received. It felt as if they were rocking so hard and heavy they were hanging on by a thread; a wild ride that made us all feel alive.
Pinegrove was no disappointment either. Front man Evan Stephens Hall established his stage presence early, displaying his central role in the band. The five-piece band lived up to the hype in terms of musicianship. A telltale sign of a talented musician is how their live performance holds up to their recorded music. Pinegrove’s performance proved their proficiency, as well as their excellent songwriting abilities. However, the biggest obstacle of their act was the abundance of tempo changes that made it nearly impossible to really groove to their tunes. They were tight and cohesive, but at times the rhythm was hard to embrace. A slightly disjoint performance, their interaction with the crowd, namely an extended conversation about chips, did not aid their energy. Still, it would be wrong not too attribute some of that to the crowd itself. As the night went on, very few people remained animated, something that a good performance feeds off. But there is no doubt that this band has something very real going for them.
The opener, Skating, fronted by Jake Shaker, was a pleasant surprise. What Shaker calls “dream pop,” Skating’s sound was intriguingly difficult to classify. Shaker’s white turtleneck, professor-esque specs and funky little hip sway set the mood for the night with a slightly silly vibe. Skating sounded much different from the recordings, but both versions hold a unique feeling to them. They started the show off right, putting the crowd in a great mood for the music to come.
As respectable as it is to get up on stage in front of people you don’t know and bear your soul, Reduction Plan’s performance somewhat killed the vibe of the show. Skating’s fun-loving sound ramped up the crowd, only to have a bundle of distorted turmoil thrown at them. While Reduction Plan certainly has their own sound, and accurately portrays what it seems they set out to say, it just was not the right setting for the music. The feeling of the night would have had a very smooth and positively progressive build up had Reduction Plan played first, but following Skating emphasized their bleak sound was a bit much.
Kevin Bostiga is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.