The Rat pulsated with acoustic rhythms as five student soloists performed for a jam-packed audience last Friday. Mike Heitmann, Riki Marucci, Dave Salge, Steve Swanson and Jesse Szuch took the stage to play everything from catchy originals to crowd-pleasing favorites.
The duo of Salge and Heitmann started the night with a sound check of Dispatch’s “The General,” that left fans screaming for more. Together, they performed a variety of covers, ranging from Dion and the Belmont’s classic “Run Around Sue” to Harvey Danger’s “Flagpole Sitta.” Salge showed off his kazoo skills during their rendition of Blues Traveler’s “Run Around.”
Salge said they chose high energy covers because, “In this kind of setting people want to hear songs they know.”
Salge and Heitmann have performed at the Rat several times. “We have very opposite tastes so it’s hard to decide on songs,” Salge said.
“This shows just how bizarre I am,” Salge, sophomore art education major, told the crowd before playing Dashboard Confessional’s “Hands Down.” Clearly, the crowd didn’t mind Salge’s selection and sang along, while devoted fans held signs that read, “Dave is da bomb.”
Heitmann, sophomore biology major, played songs by individuals who have influenced him musically. He covered Jason Mraz’s “On Love, In Sadness” and “Halloween” by Dave Matthews Band (DMB).
Heitmann’s performance of the latter displayed his versatile voice, as he was able to successfully capture the raspy semi-disturbing style of this DMB song.
Szuch, senior communication studies major, followed the twosome with several original songs including “Drown” and “Lost Horizons.”
The highlight of Szuch’s performance came with his performance of another original, entitled “Waves Crash Over Me.” This song drove ecstatic cheers from the crowd when Szuch displayed some fancy finger work near the song’s end. Szuch also played covers by Phish and Cat Stevens.
According to Szuch, the accomplished guitarist has never had a lesson. But, it was clear that no one cheering noticed. Szuch said his musical inspirations include Ben Harper, Phish and his grandfather, whose black-and-gold unicorn guitar strap he wears while performing.
Steve Swanson, accompanied by Riki Marucci, finished the night. The fact that Swanson had to sit during his performance due to a sports injury did nothing to deter the crowd’s enthusiasm, as he performed six original songs including “Lifetimes” and “Reminder.” He also played “Song For My Sister,” which he performed at last year’s Talent Show.
Swanson finished off his set by playing several enthusiastic Jack Johnson covers, including “Rodeo Clowns” and “Bubble Toes.” Swanson said he likes to think of his originals as “Jack Johnson with edge.”