A large crowd of alumni overflowed the Rathskeller (Rat) on Oct. 19, enjoying some late afternoon beers as two of the College’s old favorites, The Embassy and Willard Hayes, returned to the venue that got them started during CUBRat’s Alumni Show.
For The Embassy, it was a long overdue homecoming. The alt-rock quintet has not graced the Rat’s stage since they won the College Union Board’s Battle of the Bands last April, earning a chance to open for Copeland and The Academy Is. in Kendall Hall.
Frontman and College alumnus Matt Morone quickly reminded the crowd that The Embassy is still one of the most high-energy acts to ever grace the school as he leapt around the stage, fidgeting with his microphone stand and slamming drummer and College alumnus Jason George’s ride cymbal with a tambourine during one of the band’s newest tracks, “Victim.” The raw, agitated love-anthem is one of the numerous poignant, pulsating tracks off the band’s new album “Everything That Rises Must Converge.”
“The whole album is 10 tracks, featuring 10 different opinions and perceptions and stories which are all set at the same bar,” Morone said. “They overlap. They happen at the same time. There could be one guy that’s really pissed and then another guy who is feeling a completely different range of emotions.”
The band kept its frenetic pace going for almost an hour, alternating between tracks off their new disc and older material, as Morone, debuting guitarist Nick Troisi, and bassist and College alumnus Andrew Ferencevych bounced around the stage in time with the band’s aggressive hook-filled set list.
Playing to the increasingly intoxicated crowd, the group teased a performance of “Freebird” before Morone encouraged them to drink more because “we sound better the more that you drink.”
Opener Willard Hayes, a three-piece acoustic set, put on a much more subdued performance with its relaxed brand of folk and pop. The band runs along the same vein as current campus acoustic kingpins John Dutton & Eric Paulsen.
The band performed an evenly balanced set of covers and originals, including Blind Melon’s ’90s one-hit wonder “No Rain” which induced a campfire style sing-along in the Rat.
Willard Hayes initiated the “Freebird” hijinks well before The Embassy did, performing a few bars of the Lynyrd Skynyrd epic before guitarist and College alumnus Sean Hayes muttered, “Oops, we lost it.”
Hayes impressed the crowd with his solo skills numerous times throughout the night, implanting shred sections with his acoustic electric guitar into several songs including the band’s cover of The Allman Brothers’ “Melissa.”
By the end of the night, as the last few rounds were ordered and the bands reloaded their respective vans, the crowd pleasantly exited the Rat with smiles on their faces, proving that you can go home again.