Posted by Charlee Redman on 10/24 at 10:04 AM
Last Thursday night brought unexpected snow showers to State College, but in the midst of the inclement weather, The State Theatre played host to an evening of Americana roots-rock.
Dawn Landes, a quirky young singer from Brooklyn, opened the show with a slew of songs from her various EPs and upcoming album (due to be released in January). Accompanied only by a percussionist, Landes created a distinct mixture of country, pop, rock, and folk with her acoustic guitar and soulful voice. Landes quickly showed the audience that she wasn’t just another girl with an acoustic guitar and a pretty voice – between songs she swapped instruments for an electric guitar (a theme repeated throughout the night) and quite simply, she rocked out.
If there were two things that could be said to characterize the Bear Rhymes with Woman Tour (besides the excellent music), they would be friendship and having a good time. The Richmond, Virginia roots-rock group Carbon Leaf was proof of this. The band has been around since the 90s, building up a dedicated fan base – many of whom seemed to be in attendance at the State Theatre. Carbon Leaf played songs spanning its discography, from the light rock hits “What About Everything” and “Life Less Ordinary” to “Boxer”, one of the band’s more Celtic-influenced songs. They also touched on new material like “Miss Hollywood” and “Lake of Silver Bells”, from the album released in May of this year, Nothing Rhymes with Woman. Singer Barry Privet constantly moved around the stage, urging the crowd to stand up or cracking jokes.
One of the songs that struck me most was “Lake of Silver Bells”. The live performance of the song captured something that the recording process can’t quite grasp – the sheer size and magnitude of the sound. During this song, the music swelled until it felt like the theatre wasn’t big enough to contain it, like the walls and ceiling would burst at their seams. At the same time, guitarist Carter Gravatt played spectacular understated guitar solos. His parts were melodious, difficult passages of guitar that blended smoothly into the other instruments and occasionally soared above them.
Carbon Leaf was joined several times for a little help from their friends and tour-mates, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. The four-piece band from Massachusetts filled the stage, contributing its bit to the already-saturated atmosphere for a few songs. The members from the two bands were clearly enjoying themselves, smiling and laughing behind the music and playing for each other as much as for the audience. Kellogg and his band brought another element to the show: their motto, “Dare to suck.”
Even when the band members proclaimed they were living up to the maxim, it sure didn’t sound like it. The phrase seems more like a way to promote experimentation and creativity than anything, especially after Kellogg explained that he wanted to keep things interesting for everyone. The band had just the right combination of goofy antics and talent to pull it off; they switched instruments frequently, bassist Kit Karlson danced and did the ‘worm’ across the stage, and the band performed a song with Jonas Brothers choreography, complete with synchronized jumps and turns.
The final encore of the night brought all of the musicians – Landes and her drummer, Carbon Leaf, and Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers – on stage for a few last minutes of musical revelry. After a larger-than-life rendition of The Allman Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man”, the musicians sang an a cappella toast to the night and to making music. It was a beautiful and fitting ending to the concert. They dared to suck, and it worked out just fine.
Check them out on Myspace: Dawn Landes, Carbon Leaf, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers
Author: Charlee Redman
Bio: Charlee Redman is currently a sophomore studying English and French at Penn State. She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, making ambient noise with the local band The Roaring Kittens, walking, and drinking lots of coffee. Although she likes many styles of music, some of her favorites are folk, indie, classical, and electronic. Her favorite bands at the moment are The National, Iron & Wine, Of Montreal, and Radiohead.
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