Well hello there! Nice to see you again. What have I been up to? Glad you asked, because I just got back from a great indie show here in State College and I want to share it with you.
For a while now I’ve been telling you about the local music scene here in State College and how it’s hard for local original bands to find places to play. While that is usually true, there’s one exception to this rule: Roustabout!
The brainchild of Jeff Van Fossan, Roustabout is a roving indie music showcase featuring local indie and original bands, as well as national acts. Emperor X, Ted Leo and Yo La Tengo, among others, have played at Roustabout events. On April 3, School of Seven Bells will be performing for a Roustabout at Chronic Town, a local hookah lounge and record store owned by Fossan. In a town devoid of venues for independent music, Fossan and Roustabout provide one of the only opportunities for the town to see great local bands as well as great visiting indie artists. Chronic Town is a popular venue for Roustabouts, but the showcase sometimes hosts shows in local bars.
The show I saw this Wednesday was at the Darkhorse Tavern, a cozy little bar that has hosted many Roustabouts in the past. There used to be a weekly Roustabout event there a few years ago, but now it’s only an occasional thing. At that particular event, the featured performers were two local indie bands, Lemont and The Warmingtons. I had the pleasure of not only attending the show, but getting to DJ the event as well. I figured that as long as I was there DJing, I might as well go ahead and record some of the show to share with my dear readers. So that’s exactly what I did. Because sure, it’s great to tell you about a show, but it’s even greater to share some of it with you. So rather than spend the whole article tell you about the show (which was great, energetic, and well attended, as seen in the videos), I’ll tell you a little more about these two great local bands.
Lemont is a local band that has been playing together for about two years, but hasn’t started playing shows until very recently. Members Joshua Gragg (formerly of American Minor and Apart from the Projector), James McClure, Tom Connolly and Benjamin Wentz (formerly or currently a member of every band in State College) are all busy fellas, getting together once or twice a week to jam together and work on songs. Despite having limited time together, they’ve been able to come up with some great songs.
Named after a nearby town , their sound is reminiscent of freewheeling indie being played in a barn hidden away in a small woodsy village. One can hear elements of Tame Impala, Olivia Tremor Control, even a little Pet Sounds era Beach Boys in their sound, a collaborative effort between four very talented musicians. We hear a band starting to find their rhythm together, forging something uniquely their own after months and months of playing together, four unique vibrations of rockitude aligning with each other and resonating into a satisfying, happening sound.
As I’ve mentioned before, the State College music scene is a transient one, with people typically spending only a few years in the area before moving on. As a result, keeping bands together long enough to reach the level of quality Lemont has reached is difficult. Just as the band is poised to make some moves, its losing a major member. James McClure, the band’s lead guitarist, is moving out of State College for a new job at Virginia Tech. His great guitar work, as well as his impute on the sound of the band as a whole, will be difficult to replace. How Lemont will adjust and what effect this will have on their sound remains to be seen. The band is optimistic that they’ll be able to record something together in the summer, but they are unsure where they’ll go from there. Let’s hope they can figure out a way to go on, since they’re onto a great sound. I’d love to hear what they would come up with if given more time together to play and tour.
These fellas are no strangers to the State College music scene. They’ve been playing together for many years, producing an EP and playing live shows in every venue in town. The Warmingtons are one of the longest lasting indie bands in State College. They’ve seen members come and go, but the two main members have always stayed the same. Justin Berrettini on vocals and lead guitar, and Colin Duffy on bass.
Berrettini is the heart of band. His strong, versatile voice and sick guitar work are a big part of what sets The Warmingtons apart from other bands mining the garage rock vein. He can go from a deep growl on the track “Tracy Lies” to more of a Bob Pollard croon on “Turn Off,” and anywhere in between. His constantly evolving guitar style is energetic and reminiscent of why we listen to rock in the first place. Recently he’s been incorporating some pedals that make it sound like he’s shooting lazers out of his guitar. Maybe he is.
Duffy’s bass is rock-solid, forming the backbone of the band. It’s hard to imagine The Warmingtons without Duffy’s stoic, dependable rhythm. Duffy lets Berrettini be the showman, content with concentrating on solid, never-miss-a-beat bass. He’s been a Warmington since day one, and is a big part of the sound they’ve developed throughout the years.
On drums is local rock-phenom Frank Singley, who has been with the band for over two years. Singley is also a veteran of the State College music scene, having drummed for The Maximums and The Chesterfields. He even finds time to host a heavy metal radio show for WKPS at Midnight on Mondays.
Together, they form a strong power trio cranking out rock tunes that get your feet tapping, blood flowing and bottles breaking. I’ve seen The Warmingtons play more times then I can count, and I’ve never been disappointed. They truly play for the love of playing music, and that comes through at their live shows. The group has put together a cluster of new songs, and is rumored to be recording at the secret underground laboratory of sonic mad scientist Ben Wentz. (In addition to playing in every band in town, Wentz also records and produces many albums for local musicians.) Wentz was in The Warmingtons a few years back, as was Dutch Nuns creator Jason Britten. In State College, it’s a small musical world after all.
So how was the show? Pretty excellent. As you can tell from the videos, the Darkhorse is not a huge venue. Its intimacy helps you feel close to the bands, but it’s not so small that you can’t move around to get a drink at the bar, or dance spastically. Lemont opened the show, and was received well by the crowd. Many people weren’t sure what to expect, since this was their first Roustabout, but Lemont left everyone smiling.
The handsome DJ played some great classics from the Wipers, the Spits and the Ramones, as well as some newer jams from Tame Impala, Women and the Men.
The Warmingtons then stormed the stage, Berrettini instructing the audience to “Trek yourself before you wreck yourself.” They went on to blast the audience with maximum rockitude, getting people moving and shaking. By the end of their hour-long set, the crowd was thoroughly satisfied, like Pac-Man when he eats that last dot.
Hope you enjoyed getting a taste of Roustabout!, one of the bright lights in a sometimes dark indie scene here in State College. I’ll try and upload more videos in the future of the goings on in town, and you’ll likely hear more about Roustabout (and Wentz) in future articles. Did I mention School of Seven Bells is playing a Roustabout at Chronic Town this Tuesday? Pretty excited about that.
Tune in next issue, when I tell you all about the Arts Crawl that just went down, where Lemont, The Warmingtons and a dozen other bands played on the Penn State Campus among exhibited artwork from all of PSU’s art majors. It’s worth seeing, and I made sure to take some pictures so you could check it out. Until then, stay wonderful.