Hello once again, dear readers. I’ve come back from the wilderness of wonder that is State College, Pennsylvania to tell the interwebs about the most recent Roustabout where Dead Channel, The Surgical Staff, and Kihap put on a great show at The Darkhorse Tavern.
The show served as a record release party for The Surgical Staff’s brand-new album Forget Not To Dream. The album’s lyrics were written by Joe Beeney (vocals + guitars), with the instrumentation a collaboration of all seven members. An impressive feat, considering the only time all the members of The Surgical Staff are together in the same room is when it’s time to do a live show. Because many of the band members are graduate students, it’s very difficult to get all seven schedules synched up to practice and record, let alone finding a space large enough to accommodate all of them at once.
The record? Sounds great. I’ve only had a little time with it so far, but the sound is polished, cohesive, and full of melody. If you like your indie rock flavored with cello and violin, you’ll dig The Surgical Staff. Don’t take my word for it though, listen to them here, and also check out the interview below with “lead surgeon,” Joe Beeney, along with members Ben Wentz and Mike Stevenson. Hear them talk about the new album, what it’s like to perform at The Darkhorse, and the collaborative process of farts. You won’t get hard-hitting journalism like this from any other online magazines, folks!
I got to meet show openers Dead Channel right after the band’s set ended. After talking with them, I got the sense that they’re all fun guys, having a great time playing music together. They played the recent Arts Crawl in the Sculpture room with Think Twice, Dublin and Lemont, groups Dead Channel called “two really good bands.” (I agree.) Though I didn’t get to The Darkhorse in time to see Dead Channel’s set, the people I talked to said it was great. Luckily, the band recorded its set onto Soundcloud, and also managed to generate some video footage from the show as well. Give it a listen, I think you’ll enjoy it.
You could definitely hear the New Order and Joy Division influence, though Dead Channel manages to keep its post-punk fresh. As the newest of the three bands performing that night, the guys certainly didn’t seem like they’d only been together a few months. They played with a confidence and coordination that takes many bands years to achieve. Kevin Clair’s bass was steady and it gave me early post-punk flashbacks. Drummer Stephen Mattes played fast, precise. Devin Daniels’ guitar and vocals fit together satisfyingly well with the rhythm section, even though the mics made the vocals less than optimal. It helped that each member had been in previous bands. They’ve brought the lessons they’ve learned to this new project and it’s given them a noticeable head start.
I’m hoping Dead Channel plays another show soon…it’s unfortunate that I missed their set. I see a bright future for Dead Channel, both locally and beyond. Check out the interview below to hear Dead Channel discuss their influences, start a beef with Dream Theater and talk about fulfilling the dream of finally playing a Roustabout.
Kihap was the final band of the night. It’d been a while since I had seen Jeff Van Fossan’s band play. It’s a rare treat to see Mr. Roustabout himself perform live with his band Kihap and they certainly didn’t disappoint, belting out some great Indie rock and/or roll. This was also a special night for Kihap guitarist SeungHoon Choi. The show was a celebration of the release of Loveless -Tribute-, an album Choi helped put together to give him something to work on while in the cultural wasteland of State College. The album is full of covers of songs from My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, a classic album beloved not only here in America, but in Korea and Japan as well. Choi was born in South Korea, moving here to be with his American wife whom he met while she was teaching English in his homeland.
Some of Choi’s friends wanted him to help put together a unique tribute album using as many Korean musicians as possible. Choi got together all the musicians he could from his native country, as well as new friends in America to help make the album happen. Kihap performs the track “Sometimes” on the tribute album, which Choi recorded and mixed as well. He said working on the album helped him deal with the isolation and racism he encountered living here in the middle of Pennsylvania. Check out my interview with him below, where we talk about the album, as well as some of the things he’s had to deal with in “Happy Valley.” (And if you want to check out the Loveless tribute, you can find it here on iTunes.)
Thanks for taking the time to learn about some great bands from deep in a valley in the middle of Pennsylvania. It’s exciting to see how the local music scene here is growing and I plan on making the most out of my opportunity to show it to you. Check out the pages of the bands to learn more, hear some great music or book them for a show in your area. Until next we meet, forget me not dear reader. I’ll be back with more food for your musical hunger before you know it.