Posted by Charlee Redman on 03/25 at 11:01 PM
Last Saturday evening amid the revelry accompanying the first spring weekend, students and musicians gathered at the Abba Java Coffeehouse (corner of Locust and Calder) to raise money for rebuilding homes in Haiti. The small stage and DIY-feel of the event created an intimate atmosphere (as did the lamps scattered about the stage, brought from the bedrooms and desks of SOMA members for decoration).
State College’s own songwriter Ethan Palmer started the concert off, joined by Mike McDonald on drums and Shane Leary on bass (collectively “The Ethan Palmer Experience”, they joked). Palmer, who usually plays with local band The Exclusive Document, performed a number of his thoroughly melodic keyboard-based songs. The bass and drums grounded and fleshed out the sonorous and complex keys. A highlight of the set was “Escape Velocity” with its descending bass-line. Palmer is currently recording an album (which will come out sometime soon, supposedly) and is definitely an act to look out for in the future.
Experimental band Adobayondei from Philadelphia played next, after dimming the lights to provide a fitting ambiance for their effects-laden music. Moving between feel-good indie rock and something a little darker, the band’s songs have an interesting fluidity. Their whistles and group vocals (as well as the playing-guitar-with-a-violin-bow technique) were successful and poignant additions to the songs, but some of their other experiments went awry. One song featured some painful screaming and a few used an effect that was too aurally grating to contribute to the music’s aesthetics (in other words, it sounded a bit like an abrasive dolphin). Overall, though, the band’s set was a fun deviation from the other acts.
The next band was Kafei from Lansdale, whose heart-felt songs maintained a level of buoyancy and structural variety throughout their set. They managed to move smoothly from upbeat dancey songs to the more folksy number “Home” and back somewhere in-between, throwing in jazzy keys and the slightly dissonant ballad “Indigo” along the way. The band members’ obvious love for playing music added to the spirit of the set, endearing them with the audience.
The Fiddlercrabs, who are probably State College’s only psychedelic surf rock jam band, ended the concert with a short but tight set (no surfboards, though). The three-man band plays without vocals, but the insistent thumping bass and reverb-heavy guitar are powerful enough on their own. Guitarist Devan Kochersperger’s intricate playing speaks for itself, running through scales with a rock’n'roll attitude the Beach Boys never had.
Help 4 Haiti was a great opportunity for local musicians to play with other up-and-coming acts while raising money for a worthy cause. The Abba Java Coffeehouse has been holding concerts more frequently the last few months, providing a venue accessible to new bands and the under-21 crowd. Hopefully the little coffeehouse will continue to host musical events in the future.
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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