A Spooky Good Time

by The Cowl Editor


Arts & Entertainment


A Spooky Good Time

Local “Moon Raid” Festival Provides Halloween Entertainment

Jack Downey ’23

Obviously, there were quite a few events happening this Halloween. Not only were there fewer COVID-19 restrictions than last year, but the weather was also immaculate despite all the terrible weather in the past week, with the sun bursting forth from the sky. It could only be described as peak fall. Under the smiling sun and the falling leaves, a music festival took place in a backyard in Wakefield, RI. It was called Moon Raid, and it was legendary.

Even before the show itself began, the staggering array of groups associated with it turned heads: there were twelve bands and nine vendors present at the festival, which, for a local show, was astounding and unprecedented. Set construction began at 1:00 p.m. and the stage came together quickly, with the setup of gear being completed efficiently and conveniently. 

Leading off the event was Wave Goodbye. Building the sound of a full band using nothing but a guitar and a loop effect pedal, Wave Goodbye’s set received a warm reaction and helped draw in the audience. Following Wave Goodbye was Rather Nice, who recently released a new EP, Diane’s Van. Playing all the songs off that EP and more, the funky indie rock band had people dancing along to their mellow tunes. 

After Rather Nice was Fort Revere, a fairly new indie rock/surf rock band based out of Providence. While their sound was sparse, the songs were catchy and had some people singing along. Occasionally, the band would turn up the distortion, keeping things interesting. However, their distortion had nothing on The Gotham Lights, who were up next. Despite only having two members, their sound was enormous and blew people away, almost literally. Lead singer Jake Draven’s howling vocals only added to the wall of leaden noise that filled the entire backyard for the duration of their set. 

Continuing the wall of furious sound was Bozo Brain. Another two-piece band, this group was a female duo and their sound was more based around hardcore and metal. The crowd truly came alive during this set, moshing furiously to the distorted bass and pounding drums. At one point during their performance, the two members switched instruments to showcase their dexterity and indeed continued to bring the power. Considering this was their first show, it was rather impressive. 

With the energy of the audience mostly spent after Bozo Brain finished their set, Harrison Dolan provided some soothing, if not incredibly melancholy, relief. Despite being another one-man act using a loop pedal, Harrison’s music was jazzier than that of Wave Goodbye and featured far more guitar effects. His soft voice carried with it an undercurrent of sincerity that drew many people to his music. Multiple people commented afterwards about how they had become emotional during his set and, as if Rhode Island was responding to this shift in mood, there had been several sirens audible during Harrison’s set, creating a strangely alluring ambience.

After this brief lull in the energy, Bellyache came in screaming, literally. Not much was known about this band prior to the show, since they have no social media presence and have not played many shows. However, they blew people away with their talent. They had an interesting mix of hardcore and indie rock, with the hardcore songs featuring a singer and the indie songs being instrumental. Whichever sound they choose to play in the future, Bellyache are an intriguing band.

Cameleopard was next in the lineup. Echoing some of the blusier aspects of The Gotham Lights’ set, the crowd was immediately captivated by the group’s melodic yet crunchy guitar, flowing bass, and impressive drumming. The band functioned like a fine-tuned machine; they had people moving and grooving to their tightly-wound style of rock. 

This rock sound continued with the following act, Depopulate Montana. While their sound was straightforward, their songs were interesting and captured the audience. The sound had many elements of nineties indie rock as well as those of earlier rock icons such as Bruce Springsteen, with some punk rock thrown into the mix. Their set ended as the sun fully disappeared beneath the horizon.

Although the sun had departed, the show went on. The Park Hill Romance took the stage and ripped through several beloved covers, such as Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” and Green Day’s “Holiday.” Their fans ate it up, dancing and singing along, illuminated by the car headlights which were being used to light the stage. After them were Alligators On Acid, who delivered a gloriously ramshackle punk performance that included bassist Luke Kelley throwing his bass aside and running into the crowd, starting a tidal wave of a mosh pit that resulted in him getting punched in the face. Considering this might be their last show for some time, they went out with style. Last but not least were The Moon Rakers, who hosted the entire event. The band’s sound was remarkably minimal in the most interesting of ways, and many people seemed to be drawn in by the dry guitar sound and the unorthodox drum beats. It was a fantastic way to end such an insane concert.

All the above acts sans Bellyache have Instagram accounts and deserve attention, so give them a follow.

A Successful Summer in the RI Music Scene

by The Cowl Editor


Arts & Entertainment


A Successful Summer in the RI Music Scene

Local Bands, Venues Resume Live Performance

By Jack Downey ’23

 

The summer of 2020 was a bleak  time for musicians everywhere, especially those performing live shows. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged throughout the world, people were forced to spend much of their summers hunkered down, biding their time until life began to return to normal.

However, to say no good music came out of this time would be a lie. Many artists capitalized on their newfound abundance of free time to write and record. Nonetheless, there was a sense of tension regarding what would become of the music industry.

However, the summer of 2021 was a completely different picture. With a brief window of semi-normalcy made possible by the COVID-19 vaccines before the Delta Variant began fighting back, music surged back into the world. Suddenly, concerts and other live music events became commonplace once more. Although there were still certain rules in place to mitigate the re-emergence of the Coronavirus, live music was definitely back in season.

Rhode Island was no exception to this resurgence. As people began to feel more comfortable stepping out of the safety of their homes, Providence venues such as Dusk and Askew offered them fun places to go. The former began to host spacious outdoor shows and the latter hosted socially-distanced open mic nights. Eventually, as COVID-19 cases lowered even more, both of these places began to host weekly concerts that were booked in the blink of an eye. Local bands jumped at the chance to get back to doing what they love, and many played to record crowds as Rhode Islanders, starved of the live music experience, flocked to shows.

The need for live music was so great that some bands took matters into their own hands and hosted large house shows as the most popular local venues slowly reopened. For instance, Atomic Action and Youth Distribute, two record labels from Middletown, Rhode Island, threw barn shows. The first one of these performances was hosted on June 14 at Simmons Farm and featured a bill including local legends Bullet Proof Backpack as well as Massachusetts screamers Peace Test, New Hampshire-based hardcore band Tossed Aside, and the righteous fury of New Jersey band Gel. Despite the threat of downpours, people showed up en masse to throw down in the mosh pit. Merch was sold in spades, as was vegan food from the Born From Pain food truck. The show ended as lightning began crashing all around, providing a dramatic conclusion to an intense but welcome experience.

Another example of a house venue offering a unique live experience this past summer was the Lake House in North Smithfield. Hosted by Seb Toledo of the band Amanita, shows were held out among the trees near a serene lake. While bands played, attendees could go cool down from the summer heat or simply relax near the water. The atmosphere of this venue is unlike any other in the area, and it will be interesting to see what they do next.

Famed venue AS220, located in downtown Providence, mainly stuck to livestreams. However, referring to these productions as “livestreams” would be somewhat inaccurate, as their production quality was off the charts. Recently, AS220 has begun allowing people back inside their doors, combining limited capacity concerts with their high-grade video productions. This setup gives bands the unique opportunity to have professional live footage and audio at their disposal, an asset that local music groups hardly ever have. These recordings could help give local bands a more legitimate sheen, and AS220 are doing the scene a great service.

Although the Delta Variant now seems to be lurking around every corner, local music does not appear to be going anywhere for now. Hopefully, the forward momentum established during the summer months can continue into the fall, giving local bands more of a chance to do what they do best: create and perform.