The semifinal shows of Rock Hunt 2015 wrapped up last night with three great performances by Southpier, Forest Fires, and S. Walcott. WBRU, our sponsors, the bands, and their fans filled The Parlour in Providence with good music and good humor.
The night started off with a performance by Southpier, a young and up-and-coming band from Glocester, RI. Their fans stand in the front row, decked out with shirts and merch, ready for the set as lead singer Erik Madeiros bounds on stage. “Jump with us!” cries Madeiros. “We like to jump!” The band immediately makes this evident: their set is energetic, powerful, and emotive. It starts strong as Madeiros vaults off stage as quickly as he got on, getting up close and personal with the audience during the song “Green Line to Heath Street.” Up next, they play an unreleased piece called “Hope” in honor of one of the member’s 18th birthday (happy birthday from BRU!) — it opens with a high, wailing riff before continuing into classic punk. All the band members — whether or not they have a mic — shout out the lyrics. By the end of the set, the audience is excited as the band is: they’re clapping, dancing, and singing along.
Up next, Forest Fires‘ set is as smooth and composed as Southpier’s is exciting, although the band seems psyched to be playing Rock Hunt: guitarist Cal Cadoret takes pictures of the crowd on his phone before beginning the set. BRU fans will be familiar with Forest Fires, a five-piece band from Providence, from their Home BRU’d session or their set at Holiday Jam in December. After their introduction by our MC and BRU Breakfast DJ Stuth, they immediately slide into their first song, smooth and synchronized. Lead singer Mike Sweet’s vocals are creamy and soaring, and the band’s guitar driven but melodic style lies somewhere between The Head and the Heart, The War on Drugs, and Snow Patrol. They play through the first couple of songs with flawless transitions, pause to introduce themselves, and continue on. The fourth song, “Days of the Night,” is quieter and heartfelt (check out a live version filmed in-station during a Home BRU’d session here.) They conclude their set with sustained cymbals and big, gut-wrenching chords.
Finally, S. Walcott, another young band (this one from Matunuck, RI) takes the stage for
the last show of the night. They huddle together before beginning. They seem relaxed and comfortable with each other and even dance a little as they set up. The first song sees the lead vocalist, Johnny Donnelly, bouncing enthusiastically across the stage, at one point leaping, precariously, onto an amp. The song “Oh No,” which is reminiscent of “Sometime” by The Strokes, features progressive tempos, pleasantly surprising minor chords, and a piercing horn line by pianist Willie Grear that floats above the melody. Throughout, the band members seem so in tune with each other: they time their breaks, tempo shifts, and dynamic changes flawlessly. The last song of the night, “Obsessive Compulsive” is upbeat. “I want you all dancing! Everything’s awesome!” declares Johnny. The audience obliges, and indeed, all of the night’s bands were awesome.
Half an hour later, our esteemed local celebrity judges had made their decision: Forest Fires will be going on to the Rock Hunt Finals in two weeks. Congratulations to all the bands, and thank you to the bands, judges, sponsors, hard-working BRU organizers, and fans for coming out for a great night of music!
Stay tuned for more Rock Hunt updates and get excited for the Rock Hunt finals, which will feature Most Dangerous Men Alive (winners of Friday’s show), We Were Astronauts (winners of last week’s show), Forest Fires, and one more artist TO BE DETERMINED BY YOU at The Met in Providence on April 4th.
Rock Hunt Finals
1005 Main St, Pawtucket
Photos courtesy of Bethany Anna Photography