‘Notable’ night features pop-punk fame, mellow melodies and copycat confessions

Dave Melillo shared soloist work at the Rat. (Abby Hocking / Photo Assistant)

Laughter, applause, pop-punk chords and devoted fans were in high supply Friday, Sept. 10 in the Rathskeller with the arrival of former bassist of Cute is What We Aim For and current member of Nocturnal Me, Dave Melillo. He performed his solo efforts as part of the College Union Board’s “Notable and Priceless: An evening with Dave Melillo.”

With a repertoire of his solo pieces on hand, Melillo welcomed requests from the crowd, encouraging seasoned followers to demand favorites. Many of the songs reflected a different period of Melillo’s life, originating from a younger, perhaps more immature version of the songwriter.

“This song’s about getting drunk and getting laid,” he said, prefacing his performance of “Vatican Roulette,” from his 2006 EP, “Talk is Cheap.”

Melillo said his latest songs produce a more substantive foundation, rather than relying solely on “raw emotion.”

“As much as I was trying, and just going for it, I was trying to replicate bands I was listening to,” he said. “It’s (now) a more focused effort.”

His reliance on his musical muses, such as Dashboard Confessional, whose influence is unmistakable in Melillo’s lyrics and delivery, seems to prevail still.

“I rip off songs. It’s not something I’m ashamed of,” he told the crowd.

Accompanying originals such as “Knights of the Island Counter,” “Sam’s Song” (part 1 and 2), “This is 2005,” “Do You Believe” and “Read Between the Lines,” Melillo played a variety of covers such as The Starting Line’s “Best of Me” and blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” Though he attempted but failed to successfully fulfill many of the audience’s requests for covers, Melillo’s confidence never wavered.

Melillo said he prefers soloist projects to group efforts.

“It’s really great being in band, and it’s already a success … I don’t think building up a band from the ground up is fun, unless you’re in high school,” he said.

As someone who is familiar with several aspects of the musical process, including recording, producing, songwriting and performing, Melillo said getting “other people involved is extraneous.”

Throughout the night, Melillo encouraged audience participation.

The audience was composed of both committed and casual fans, some who’ve been following Melillo’s work since his start. Jessica Moran, freshman business major, said she saw Cute is What We Aim

For 10 times in concert. When she saw the promotional posters for the event, she was extremely excited.

“(Melillo’s) got a beautiful voice…he’s not afraid to sing about emotion, and he’s funny too,” she said.

While it was Melillo’s first time at the College, a veteran performer preceded his act. John Dutton, a 2008 graduate of the College, introduced his mellow acoustic musings at the beginning of the night. Though the sound system of the venue often caused his guitar to overpower his appropriately soft voice, Dutton’s John Mayer-esque sound produced equally catchy and laid-back originals.

Dutton has opened for known names such as Melody Gardot and Saves The Day. Friday’s performance was his fourth show in four days in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area, he said. He is currently waiting for the release of his new six-song EP within the next month, entitled “Reasons to Stay.”

“I’m very proud of it,” he said of his latest project.

Dutton was a regular student performer at the College but said Friday was his first time returning to the Rat since graduation.

“It’s kind of nostalgic,” he said.

The show attracted an impressive crowd, much to the joy of Jill Polak, coordinator of the event and senior journalism major.

“I’m a little bit surprised because we’re competing with ourselves,” she said, referring to CUB’s concurrent organization of Duff Goldman’s appearance on campus. “I’m also not surprised because (Melillo) has a large following from New Jersey and he’s super cute.”

Katie Brenzel can be reached at brenzel2@tcnj.edu.