By Connor Iapoce
Under the constant tonal hum of the speaker’s low, steady fuzz of feedback, students gathered to witness four bands take control of a stage that could barely fit all of the band members. It was a passionate night of loud, catchy music with a captivating atmosphere, similar to a stadium show.
On Friday, April 19, the College Union Board presented yet another successful CUB Alt concert that took place in the Brower Student Center Room 212. Headlining the show was folk rock outfit Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties, with a steady balance of support from Save Face, Jetty Bones and The Weak Days.
West is both the side project and persona of frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell, known for his work with Philadelphia pop-punk outfit, The Wonder Years. His album narrates the story of a man who has lost everything and is working to reclaim his life after his wife left him.
As the crowd murmured their conversations in between sets, West took the stage and began to softly strum his guitar. In a soft timbre, West sang the lyrics, “I woke up to shorebirds. I must be close to the sea” from “Carolina Coast,” the ending song to his first album, “We Don’t Have Each Other.” The crowd reacted with a sudden onset of silence and began to gather around the new voice.
Alongside West was a full band that made up of guitars, bass, drums, a trombone and even a saxophone. West wailed of loss and sadness through tunes reminiscent of the blues that ultimately documented the search to become a better person.
The set was intimate and thrived on the emotions of the audience. On stage, West interacted with the crowd by stepping away from the microphone and having them sing parts of the song, “Divorce and the American South.” This singer-audience relationship carried on throughout the rest of the night.
West’s set carried him throughout most of his discography, alongside a boastful first runthrough of his new single, “Runnin’ Toward the Light,” to the crowd.
With the night almost done, West thanked the crowd and announced his last song. As he pumped through the rambunctious “You Ain’t No Saint,” the crowded surged with energy, and with the last strum of his guitar, West threw his pick into the crowd and left the stage in a final act of character dramatics.
The first opener of the show was The Weak Days, a three-piece band with a version of melodic pop that crafted a heartfelt message of dealing with mental illness and the struggles of touring.
On stage, drummer Dustin Reinink pleaded passionately with the crowd to help out friends and seek help for their own mental health issues.
“As a music scene and general culture, we’ve done a decent job talking about mental health, but not necessarily the best way to treat that,” Reinink said on stage. “It can be hard to ask for help. Make sure to check up on people and ask yourself how you are.”
The next artist was Jetty Bones, an alternative pop band from Columbus, Ohio. Bones is the stage name of Kelc Galluzzo, but he and his fellow members perform as a four piece band on stage. Their sound was made up of Galluzzo’s soaring vocals with pop-like music behind them. Bones’ lyrics struck a chord with the audience by touching on triggering topics such as sexual violence and abusive relationships.
“I’ve been trying to normalize the act of when we play live shows, issuing trigger warnings to keep our environments safe,” she said.
The song “Innocent Party,” which is about feeling at your lowest point, was followed by “The Rest of Them,” an empowering anthem to lift yourself from that darkness.
“This song is basically my way of saying no matter what’s going on, you’re wrong,” Galluzzo said onstage. “There’s always someone waiting in the corner saying ‘Hey you can do this’.”
The final supporting act was the College’s very own alternative rock band Save Face, which consisted of vocalist and guitarist Tyler Povanda (’16) and drummer Chris Flannery (’16).
Save Face engaged the crowd with a frantic and energetic frenzy of rock that ranged from songs with clean, pop-punk vocals to harsher musicianship with hints of gang vocals. The band took the stage and boasted that they were “the biggest rock band in the world.”
The band opened their set with its single, “Weak” from its album Merci, released last year, and closed out the set with “Bad” from the same album. During the set, they played many fan favorites, including “Preoccupied,” a single recorded and released in 2016 when the two members were still students at the College.
Povanda recalled recording the vocals for Save Face’s first EP in the closet of the Ewing home where he lived with Flannery during their later years at the College. Povanda also mentioned how he used to play shows at The Rathskellar, a bar that used to exist in the Student Center where Traditions is located now.
“It’s very weird to come back to play TCNJ,” Povanda said. “I’ve played the Student Center before though. I played the Rat and I did sound and was a part of booking the shows for the Rat for the four years that I was here.”
Povanada was happy with how the show turned out, especially because it was only announced earlier that same week.
“The show was fantastic,” Povanda said. “People definitely found out about it, rolled through and I had an awesome time.”