On Friday, April 3, the country western sound came to the Rathskeller as College Union Board (CUB) hosted its Honky Tonk Night featuring Rench, a singer, songwriter and producer hailing from Brooklyn.
While it may seem as though Brooklyn is the farthest place in the world from country music, Rench’s performance was spot-on.
Known for his drum beats, scratches and sample-heavy sound, Rench’s show was stripped-down country music at its most basic: guitar, bass, drums and pedal steel guitar.
“We’re gonna play some country music to go with your burgers,” Rench said.
Then the singer and backup band went into a cover of Merle Haggard’s “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down.”
The first sound that stands out in any one of Rench’s songs is the pedal steel guitar. Used throughout a majority of the songs, it is probably one of the most evocative instruments in country music.
The selection of original tunes and outlaw country classics by artists such as Haggard and George Jones ensured the night never turned dull. Although the Rat wasn’t as hopping of a place as Bob’s Country Bunker, the crowd thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
While Rench’s musical talent is present in his studio material among the drum samples and a hip hop influence, live events such as this help to tear the artist down to his most fundamental level.
The downtrodden stories of prisoners behind bars and hearts broken by women are all told here, fleshed out by a songwriter who knows what he’s singing about, or at least appears to.
Original songs such as “Elmira” stay in line with the storytelling of outlaw country, but for a song like “Come Back To Brooklyn,” Rench takes a fun and interesting spin on the narrative by beckoning his old lady to return to the comforts of Mister Softee and Coney Island.
As the night progressed, Rench played on with the same lethargy and lonesomeness that you might expect from a country western act, yet he showed a surprising amount of vitality and novelty.