The third and final night of Rock Hunt commenced Friday at 9 p.m. at the Fatt Squirrel. Semifinalists Smith&Weeden, Jetty, and The Can’t Nots battled for the final spot in the Rock Hunt Finals. After the WBRU Promotions department had taken over the Fatt Squirrel, the bands got on stage for their chance to perform in front of the Rock Hunt banner. The fans piled in but not before they visited the bar, decorated with Narragansett banners!
Smith&Weeden started the night off with lots of energy and a sound reminiscent of Mumford & Sons. They took the stage with charisma, making jokes and talking with the audience. This band proves that you can feel music you play with minimal movement. In true country spirit, Smith&Weeden showed that you don’t need flashiness or outlandish stunts, just music. The band members favor facial expressions that reflect their soul over extreme motions. The group came off as a professional band—like they’ve been playing for a long time and this was just one of their concerts—a trait that sets them apart from some of the other semifinalists. Smith&Weeden play music you can tap your foot to, backed up with powerful voices from all three of the vocalists. They are mature. Smith&Weeden knows how to let music do its magic. All they do is play—the rest is between you and the music. Smith&Weeden’s performance stirred up our emotions, letting us closed our eyes and sink into it. Nevertheless, the set was still incredibly fun. “This is the land of tiny beers,” said Seamus Weeden on stage when trying to coax the audience to move closer to the stage. This band embodies the spirit of alternative rock. The audience shook their heads as if to affirm the band’s talent. After their performance, Weeden said, “I felt good about it. There was a good crowd and a good turnout. What more could you ask for?”
Jetty took the stage next. Lead singer Yeugene Barokha has a sweet falsetto not unlike Adam Levine of Maroon 5. The music Jetty played had a smooth, jazzy feel, personifying some of the best attributes of Pop Rock. The band members get into it. Jetty is one of those bands whose music is best heard live, for it benefits from the presence of an audience. The band members draw their energy from the crowd. They crafted the entire the performance to fit the audience, moving just the right amounts and manipulating their volume in order to provoke the audience’s response. The Fatt Squirrel seemed to be flooded with Jetty fans. During their performance, girls screamed, and audience members proclaimed the lyrics back to the band. Their music came to life in the room, capturing the attention of their fans. After Jetty’s set, Barokha explained, “I couldn’t believe the crowd response. We’re all really good friends. We play what we love.”
Last but not least were The Can’t Nots. Lead singer Naomi Lee started the set with a confident smile as if she knew it was going to be good. Lee doesn’t just sing, she acts. Her movements are not simply manifestations of her feelings for the music, but are also the music’s interpretive supplements. In this band, you can definitely tell who the lead is: the other band members fade into the background and let Lee run the show. Following Smith&Weeden and Jetty, it was clear the difference audience involvement makes. The Can’t Nots were not quite as connected with the audience of the Fat Squirrel. The audience danced, and the band members got into the performance, but the whole thing felt more like a theater performance rather than a band’s concert. Pieces of their songs moved us nonetheless. There was a woman in a blazer dancing, clutching her purse as if to protect it from hoodlums, but she was still moving her feet. That’s what the band’s performance was like. They were engaged and moving but perhaps needed to let loose. We would have liked to see them relax that bag hand and leave that blazer of restraint behind—maybe not the best analogy because blazers are expensive and I wouldn’t necessarily leave one behind. “It was a good night. Everybody played well,” said Lee between posing for fan pictures and passing out toy dinosaurs. She wants WBRU fans to know, “I love them so much that sometimes it hurts a little.” The love is definitely mutual, as the Can’t Nots have a great sound. We can’t wait to see how the band continues to grow moving forward!
Ultimately, it was Jetty that was crowned winner of the night.“We’re just friends who play music … we love. We compromise but not a lot,” the band member said after the announcement. The band is excited to move to the next stage of the competition. Until then, the Providence and Massachusetts boys will be “hanging out in a barn,” arguing and working on their next album.
Think Smith&Weeden or The Can’t Nots should have made it through too? Stay tuned for how you can vote in this years wildcard fourth finalist!
Photos Courtesy of WBRU Interns Naana OM and Elaine Wang