By Abbi Sleeper, Staff Writer
Despite some last minute line-up changes, last Saturday’s band showcase was an overall success. Three UNH-based bands preformed sets on Saturday night in the Strafford Room of the MUB at an event sponsored by the Music Mentors Program.
Nate Hastings, Coordinator of Student Organizations and Leadership and Advise to the Music Mentors Program, had been planning this September Showcase since last April. He wanted to make sure that the bands preforming would be quality acts, so every band interested in a slot was required to audition in person or submit a live demo tape, similar to the process for landing a gig at a bar or music festival.
“Trying to get a booking is like trying to get a job, and we wanted this to be an educational experience,” Hastings said of the audition process.
After some deliberation, Hastings settled on three local bands, Heads and Tales, The Floods and Gretchen and the Pickpockets, to open for headliners, The Brother Kite who would be traveling from Rhode Island for the show. Unfortunately, The Brother Kite had to cancel relatively last minute due to a family health issue, leaving the show one act short.
“[The Brother Kite] got in touch with me last week to let me know that they might need to stay in Rhode Island… we looked at other headliners but none of them could definitely commit either so I didn’t want to cancel,” said Hastings on Saturday night, continuing to say that The Brother Kite confirmed that they would not be able to make the show early on Saturday morning. As far as the rearranging of the schedule for the night, Hastings said there was “not much at all, actually. We gave all three openers an extra ten minutes on stage and we’ll probably end a little early tonight.”
The first band to preform was Heads and Tales, an indie-rock group that formed three years ago when its founding members were freshmen here at UNH. Now seniors, Heads and Tales has one recorded album, Carousel, and another in the works. The band performed mostly original songs on Saturday night, though their set was a little different due to the absence of lead singer Sam Johnson. Johnson, who is currently in Los Angeles competing on The Voice, has been temporarily replaced by friend of the band, Geoff Glover.
“It was a little nerve-wracking,” Glover said after the set, “because this was my first time performing without an instrument in my hand. The band is used to playing with Sam, so I’ve just got to make them as comfortable with me as possible, but it’s been great. I love all of the guys I play with.”
Sophomore Erin Lee, who had never seen Heads & Tales before, stated that she had been “very impressed” with the band and expressed interest in buying a copy of their album.
Heads & Tales was followed by The Floods, a student trio playing a mix of original songs and covers of psychedelic rock classics. During their set, lead singer and guitarist Matt Carbonella invited the crowd to move closer to the stage.
“I know I’m sweaty,” Carbonella laughed, “but feel free to move up.”
The Floods, who formed about two years ago, said that the showcase was a change of scene for them, as they usually play in local bars. The trio spent this past summer playing gigs throughout New England, including a music festival in Maine, and recording their self-titled album in Epping, New Hampshire.
“It was a really exciting show,” said sophomore Whitney Milewski of The Floods’ set. “They sound a lot like the Black Keys.”
Finishing up the show was Gretchen and the Pickpockets, a five-piece alternative rock group that has become familiar to the seacoast area. Gretchen and the Pickpockets are set apart from many of their contemporaries by unique facets of their sound, such as Ryan O’Connell’s double-act as guitarist and trumpet soloist, and the distinct vocal powers of front-woman Gretchen Klempa.
“We’ve seen these guys in Dover before,” Carbonella said of The Floods as Gretchen and the Pickpockets set up to perform, “should be a good show.”
This final act brought great energy to the stage with their combination of original tunes and covers.
“You guys are getting two Hendrix covers tonight,” the singer told the crowd, referencing an earlier cover by The Floods as her band played the opening bars of “The Winds Cries Mary.”
Gretchen and the Pickpockets put out their first EP, Stop, in 2012 and set out on a self-planned national tour this past summer.
Each band took a moment of their set to thank Hastings and everyone who helped make the show possible and considered the night a success.
“I had a really great time,” said Glover of Heads and Tales.
Following this showcase, The Music Mentors program continues to hold regular bi-weekly meetings in MUB 203 and encourages any and all student musicians to feel free to join.