Jack Downey ’23
On Nov. 15, 2019, a memorable concert was held at The Met, a hallowed venue in Pawtucket, RI. Both the opening act, Up In The Air, and the headliner, Nolan Donato ’22 and his backing band, played a nostalgic medley of covers that captivated the packed crowd. It was truly a night of epic proportions, and many people eagerly awaited the follow-up.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic soon swept across the world and quickly shut down the live music industry, not to mention almost everything else. The idea of another Met show happening became a distant dream, hidden behind consternation surrounding whether there would be even a semblance of normalcy in the fall semester of 2020. A light at the end of the tunnel was Stuartstock. Hosted on Slavin Lawn by Providence College radio station WDOM, the student concert happened during the last weekend of the spring 2021 semester as the vaccine began giving people hope that things were looking up.
Now, with almost every student on PC’s campus vaccinated, Donato and Co. began working to recreate, if not top, that crazy night back in 2019. This time, the date was Sept. 9, 2021. Assembling a backing band featuring members old and new, as well as enlisting two student DJs, he began spreading the word. Hype built quickly, and the line to get in the door was massive, with people waiting in the pouring rain for the chance to be in the audience. After the DJs got the crowd excited, Donato and his band took the stage to raucous applause.
Throughout the course of the band’s hour-plus set, they ran through a plethora of fan favorites. From country tunes such as “Wagon Wheel” to pop classics such as Neon Trees’ “Animal” to rock anthems such as “We Will Rock You,” the band played something for everyone. Donato’s impeccable stage presence was on full display as he high-fived people in the audience and took videos on their phones.
On lead guitar, Joe Genest ’22 delivered some blazing solos, while by his side, Gavin Woods ’22 grooved on the bass. Over on stage left, Griffin May ’24 and John Duffy ’20 provided a cascading wave of chords on rhythm guitar and keys, respectively. In the back, Cat Mazo ’19 not only kept the band as tightly in the pocket as a band could physically be, but she also added some tasteful flourishes that made the songs pop even more.
Throughout the night, Donato made things interesting by bringing guest singers on stage. First was Wini Kennedy ’20, who sang with Donato at the 2019 show. Her powerful voice commanded the crowd’s attention and people loved it. Next up was Lauren Fraser ’22, who had also been a guest vocalist at Donato’s previous performance at The Met. She crooned Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” before showing off the other side of her impressive range by belting out “good 4 u” by Olivia Rodrigo. The latter was a massive hit with the audience as well as the band, who were firing on all thrusters during the song. Michael Henshaw ’23 was next on stage, and he and Donato delivered a contagiously fun duet of Ceelo Green’s “F*** You.” The chemistry they displayed was incredibly entertaining to watch. Finally, towards the end of the set, Cole Dougherty ’22 came onstage to play acoustic guitar with the band.
Overall, the night was one of the greatest concert experiences in quite some time. The huge crowd was enthusiastic and the band echoed this energy. Each song struck a chord with the audience, whether it was a pop banger or a slow burner. The palette of music on display was so broad that it had even the staunchest of elitists chanting along. Truly, this concert will go down in Providence College lore, and students are already highly anticipating the next one.