May 2, 2007

SpringFest Rocks North

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Ridgewood Road was certainly the place to be this past Sunday. Whether you were there for the music, atmosphere, weather or all of the above, Spring Fest, sponsored by Pi Kappa Phi, Phi Delta Theta, and Alpha Omicron Pi, was a perfect prelude to an ideal summer setting. Whether murmurings that this lineup was better than Slope Day’s, overheard both before and after this benefit concert, are true or not is a matter of opinion of course, but one thing’s for sure: these bands did not disappoint, and with a great turnout and a relaxed, intimate crowd, it certainly did have a (sober) mini-Slope Day feel.
Headlining for the afternoon was State Radio, lead by former Dispatch member Chad Urmston. The excitement was almost tangible as the crowd surrounded the elevated stage, and State Radio wasted no time accommodating the speakers with their crunching guitars and raw energy. Their music can best be described as a delightful combination of reggae and rock, interspersed with some mellow melodies, so I probably don’t have to tell you that their music perfected every summer-soaked moment they were on stage. Urmston has quite the stage presence — if given the opportunity, I’m sure not a single person there would have turned down a chance to chill out with him. Although I was admittedly not as enthralled with them as Dispatch, State Radio definitely has a solid sound.
However, as enjoyable as State Radio proved to be, I’d really like to turn your attention to the band that played before them, Tally Hall, because I’m willing to bet that you probably haven’t heard of them. I feel fortunate that I had before this concert: I saw them at Pi Kappa Phi exactly one year ago and positively fell in love with their sound. I was pleased to see the echo of my reaction on people’s faces this time around; people were looking around at each other as if to say “well this is a pleasant surprise,” and the subsequent smiles were inevitable. But how do I describe Tally Hall? None of their songs sound remotely the same, which is where I think they hold most of their creative merit — they bend genres like nobody’s business. They’re fun; they’re quirky; they’re eccentric. Think Beatles; think Bohemian Rhapsody; think synthesizers; think banjos amidst guitars and drums; and yes, even think Nintendo sound effects. This band is original. I can’t help thinking, at most concerts with bands you’re not familiar with anyway, that after awhile the songs start sounding the same. That’s not an issue with this Ann-Arbor-based band. You’d think that you wouldn’t be able to take these fove guys seriously when they somewhat awkwardly walk on stage with their signature solid Red, Yellow, Blue, Green, and Silver ties (one for each member), plain white shirts, and black pants. And the great thing is, you don’t have to. You don’t have to be a music debonair to enjoy their grab bag of styles, but then again, if you happen to be one, I have no problem assuring you that you won’t be disappointed either. Tally Hall is one of those bands that you can pop in the CD player as summer background music or actively listen to; their talent for producing entertaining music crosses the threshold of both melody and lyric, with pleasant surprises at every turn. They’re also fun guys — I had the pleasure of chatting with them after their set, and they are positively hilarious. The only label I can possibly put on these guys is incandescently contagious.
Overall, brilliant bands, fantastic time — and all for a good cause: proceeds went to the Ithaca Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Here’s hoping they do this again.