Students filled the seats and lined the stage of the Rathskeller Tuesday night to see the performances of A Great Big Pile of Leaves and the solo artist, Casey Crescenzo.
It was the second time that the Brooklyn band, A Great Big Pile of Leaves, has visited the College. Their last visit to campus was about a year ago.
“This is a cool place,” said the bassist, Tucker Yaro. “It’s good to be back (at the Rat).”
Four members make up A Great Big Pile of Leaves: the lead vocalist and guitarist Pete Weiland, bassist Tucker Yaro, lead guitarist Matt Fazzi and the drummer Tyler Soucy.
This indie rock band quickly engaged the audience with their melodic music, drawing out a mainly positive response. People lined the front of the stage, mimicking the motions of the instrumentals and banging their heads to the beat. Even those seated and eating could not help but to clap their hands and tap their feet to the rhythm.
An easy way to describe the music of these four men is to relate their songs to the feeling of a rollercoaster. The band thrived on building up the energy of the audience through unexpected twists and turns. Some of the songs had mystic openings that carried the audience on a short-lived journey that was quickly followed by intense lyrics and wailing guitars. Other songs remained upbeat throughout but had sudden stopping points that teased the audience and tricked them into thinking the song was over. Their music was definitely one ride that no one wanted to end.
The lead guitarist Matt Fazzi was undeniably the most entertaining with how deeply he connected with the music. Throughout the entire show, Fazzi frantically jumped and stomped around the small stage, treating it like his own personal arena. This sort of energy that flowed from the band fed the audience a wave of life that no one could ignore.
Halfway through the concert, Yaro, the bassist, announced, “I have story. We went to Minnesota and recorded a brand new album. It’s a short story but I am pretty excited about it.” The cheering and whistling audience seemed pretty excited about it too. This excitement carried on through the remainder of their performance.
“The last song they played, ‘We Don’t Need Heads,’ has such amazing instrumental components. You feel like you are literally dancing without your head,” said Matt Helm, freshman, business management major. This Helm’s second time seeing the band live and he was all smiles prior, during and after their performance. “Their music literally gives me chills.”
Even a group of five students from Rider University, 15 minutes from the College, traveled to the Rat just to see the band perform. Collectively the group has seen them perform live about 15 times. They were true fans who knew every lyric.
“A Great Big Pile of Leaves is a band that everyone would love to listen to,” said Mike Silverman, junior psychology major at Rider.
As A Great Big Pile of Leaves dispersed and went to a side table in the Rat to sell signed posters and CDs, Casey Crescenzo of The Deer Hunter took to the stage.
Crescenzo can be described as a man who, with his guitar, controls the stage and captivates the audience with his voice.
All of his songs told a deep story. With his words, Crescenzo painted vivid pictures about rivers and starry nights, struggling erstwhile to deliver wisdom and describe pain. His haunting tone amplified this as he belted emotions ranging from love to hatred to the sadness of death.
One of his newest songs — that he admitted he wrote the day before — addressed a lot of life’s questions. The chorus rung true: “Why are we here? Why do we die?”
A deep contrast to Crescenzo’s brutal honesty was, in his own words, his “awkward” personality. His modesty, if anything, brought a lot of laughs to the audience.
“I’m just traveling around alone,” he admitted. “I often ask people what there is to do around town. They tell me all of this cultural stuff to go and see, but … I like seeing movies.”
At an audience member’s request, Crescenzo played a song off of his newest record that he said he normally does not play on acoustic guitar. “I’m probably going to mess up,” said Crescenzo. “I guess you wouldn’t know if I messed up. But I’ll tell you. I will feel compelled to.” This comment, coupled with Crescenzo’s rueful smile brought a round of laughter throughout the Rat.
In the closing moments of his performance, Crescenzo pondered over what he would play for his final song. When he finally picked, he asked for the audience’s participation.
“Please sing along if you know the words. Nobody will judge you,” he said. With a little less seriousness he continued, “Pretend this is Wal-Mart. Nobody can judge you at Wal-Mart because they’re at Wal-Mart too.” Again, there was a chorus of laughter and understanding as he closed the set.