Thursday night, WBRU held its annual Birthday Bash at Lupo’s. BRU DJ’s Cat and Ava MC’ed, and kicked off the night a little early at 7:10, introducing 2015 Rock Hunt winners Public Alley, the first performers of the night. The band’s sound is an amalgam of various genres and styles with influence ranging from classic rock to gospel and hip hop. Lead vocalist Zoe Hinman has a strong, haunting voice that stirs the emotions of her listeners. The band is able to manipulate their music to reach the audience through a complex musical narrative in a way that most young bands, who usually just focus on catchy lyrics and rhyme, aren’t able. The audience enjoyed it, and it was obvious that they had earned their Rock Hunt Title. Public Alley clearly have fun performing. All the members of the band, even those without mics, sing along. Their keyboardist, Szabi Kiss, is their hype man, pumping up and soliciting responses from the audience. He introduced the band members, including the almost comically nonchalant bassist Cam, their guitarist Noah, and their drummer Max. Kiss asked the audience to clap, so he could “do a thing.” He then began rapping which was by far the most surprising element of the evening. I hope Public Alley can keep the energy forever.
Cat and Madison returned to throw free t-shirts into the excited crowd, and introduced our next guest Coleman Hell. With his array of dance moves and complex techno sound, Coleman Hell provides the audience with a hypnotic performance. He sings like he’s teaching a lesson that he can’t wait to share with the audience–like he has some juicy secret to life he just can’t wait to share, and bounces around because he is overcome with excitement and can barely contain it. He does jump twists and claps and pumps his left leg up and down (sometimes alternating with his right leg). He doesn’t stay still, and you wouldn’t want him to. When he makes his way to the edge of the stage to the audience, cheers erupt from the crowd. “It’s so hot in here,” he says halfway through the performance, taking off his leather jacket inciting more screams from the audience. “How many of you have a job you hate? Call in sick [tomorrow]!” He ended his set with “2 Heads” during which he jumped off the stage in front of fence separating the audience from stage. From a distance, it appeared as if he was a part of the crowd. For those who were in the balcony, he regrets not giving you a shout out.
Next, things slowed down a little with a performance by BØRNS. The audience was cheering so loud in anticipation for the Michigan-raised singer that you could barely hear Madison and Cat introduce him. He opened with “10,000 Emerald Pools.” Throughout the night, he played with his hair, tousling and finger combing it back. His fashion and music are reminiscent of the later decades of the 20th century. This performance was definitely a crowd favorite. At this point, the venue was packed and the audience sang along, yelling the lyrics as the band performed. We caught a glimpse of a smile on BØRNS’ face as he sang, indicating that he was enjoying the experience just as much as we were. The band members smiled and gave each other appreciative looks during the performance. After “Holy Ghost,” BØRNS stopped to ask what everyone was doing for Halloween. He and a couple of audience members discussed possible costumes. “I am BØRNS. We are BØRNS. This is our last song,” he said before beginning “Electric Love.” The audience shouted along with the chorus, as the band members bounced around the stage. The lights cut out one last time, and BØRNS left the stage.
And suddenly, it was almost time for the last performance. The DJ’s took the stage once more to thank the fans for their continued support of the station, and as they wished the station a happy birthday, blue balloons were dropped from the balcony into the cheering crowd. Hitting the balloons around kept everyone occupied until Cold War Kids took the stage and the balloons would slowly start to disappear as they were popped throughout the set. The band took the stage at 10:15 and their drummer was the only member of the band to stay in one place the whole time. Every other member had their moment to showcase their moves in the middle of the stage, and the energy was infectious. During “First,” there were three attempts by audience members to crowd surf and one unlucky member was dropped. It was a sea of sound – Lupo’s was filled with cheers and screams and the sounds of the various instruments that were featured by the band. Throughout the performance, the band switched and added instruments, such as maracas and tambourines–lead singer Nathan Willett even pulled out a melodica at one point. “This is it,” Willett said before they began to play “Something Is Not Right With Me,” which featured an epic instrumental break. Thankfully, that was not it, as the cheers of the crowd brought the band back for an encore of two more songs. The final song of the set was “Saint John” during which, as the band played on, Willett stepped away from the mic to walk around the stage, reaching out to touch the extended hands of audience members. He walked back to the mic, finished the set, and said his goodbyes. “Thank you, Providence. We love you, Providence. See you next time.”
Even when the music was over, the crowd still had a ton of energy and seemed ready for next year’s Birthday Bash. Luckily we’ve got some awesome shows to ease the wait for 2016!