By Shaun Fitzpatrick
The New York City-based soul-rock quartet Sugartime greeted a scant audience at the Rathskeller last Friday night, bringing enthusiasm and energy despite the meager crowd.
The band began their set with a no-frills introduction. “We’re Sugartime, this is what we do,” said lead singer and guitarist Jahn Xavier Bonfiglio before launching into the first number of their two-hour set. What Sugartime does is deliver a fun, but repetitive, sound that might have been too “oldies” for the crowd at the College. In an age of indie-rock and pop-punk influences, the classic rock vibe did not draw in listeners.
That’s not to say that Sugartime gave a weak performance. The band boasts 100 years of musical experience between its members, and the band’s maturity in that aspect was evident. The band worked well together, producing an infectiously energetic sound. Bonfiglio’s raspy voice was pleasant enough, and worked as a nice contrast to the band’s otherwise slightly generic instrumentals. Al Maddy kept the group alive with his impressive guitar solos, and bassist David Conrad and drummer Thomas Hamlin rounded out the sound.
The main problem was to be found in the repetition. After the first hour, every song began to sound alike. It would’ve been difficult to determine when one song stopped and another started had it not been for the momentary pauses for applause. The lyrics did nothing to distinguish the songs. Sugartime sang predominantly about searching for love, which, combined with shallow lyrics such as “drowning in a sea of love” and “are you lonely for me baby,” left the group with a vaguely amateurish sound.
Sugartime did, however, find a way to make up for its less-than-philosophical songs. The quartet kept the energy level sky-high throughout the entire performance, and seemed to legitimately have a good time on stage.
“We put this band together for one purpose — to have fun,” Conrad said during a break in the set. That excitement from the members was palpable and made up for many of the flaws.
Unfortunately, very few students were around to witness the act. At its busiest, the Rathskeller was a little less than half full, and the majority of the students were there simply to eat rather than watch the show.
Even the band noticed.
“Everyone take out their cell phones, call one friend, tell them to come down,” Maddy jokingly pleaded at one point early in the show.
Regardless, two tables remained filled during the entire gig, with a core group of fans cheering Sugartime throughout the night.
Opening for the band was White Star City, an acoustic act comprised of talented junior graphic design major Colleen Napolitano. Napolitano’s powerful voice and mix of impressive original pieces and cover songs had the audience clapping along throughout her set.