Summer Jams: Live Music Friday at Keystone Rampworks

On August 21st, the 570 Press crew got together and trucked it up to Keystone Rampworks in Wilkes-Barre. Our very own Alonna Weaver had organized a bitchin’ event, Live Music Friday, to bring people together (but still safely socially distanced) to listen to some great live music by local musicians. And what an awesome idea it was, giving our local musicians a venue to play when most venues and live shows are limited if not canceled. So, big preesh to our girl Alonna, I think we can all agree that we needed that.

The event was held at Keystone Rampworks, which I had never been to before, but I have to say that it seems like a great place for people to go and skate. It’s a large open, yet enclosed area with a lot of space for skating, sports, and other events. The only problem, was that the space was not made for live music. A few of the bands had trouble with their sound echoing back as well as getting lost in itself because of the acoustics of the venue. This is no one’s fault as KR does have a stage area for bands inside, but it’s too small to work in our current Covid situation (because of social distancing needs). However, everyone did a pretty good job, so let’s break it down.

57zero

57zero was the first band up that night and they did pretty well. Most of their set was difficult to hear, because of the acoustics of the venue, making it hard to really hear the softer vocals and the lyrics. Those softer vocals were done by 18 year old bassist Cat. When I could hear her vocals, they were good, promising, but a little on the generic side. She has potential though and with starting out so young with her music, she may already be ahead of the game. The harder, more aggressive vocals were done by 16 year old guitarist Gabe. His vocals were well done and I enjoyed how his more aggressive vocals meshed with Cat’s softer vocals. That’s one of my favorite pairings when it comes to music and is exactly why I’m so in love with Deftones.

Their sound overall was that of hard rock with occasional intervals of bits which were reminiscent of hippie-jam sesh vibes. This matched the juxtaposition of the hard and soft vocals which worked together very well. I enjoyed that sound a lot and, personally, I hope the continue doing more of that than just straight up hard rock. Plus, having that more unique sound is what’s going to set a band apart from the sea of local bands.

As for stage presence, it was a mixed bag. Gabe seemed to be the most into the performance, you could really see him getting taken up in the wave of music which was great. Cat seemed very shy on stage and sometimes a little blasé, but once she started belting out her vocals, you could see more of her own self coming out. 13 year old drummer Carter sat solidly behind his kit as if that’s where he has always been, he seemed completely comfortable and chill the whole time.

Overall, the band was pretty good, with only occasional outs of friction in the sound (could have been because of the open area sound issue, but I’m not 100% sure). Their new EP dropped on the 28th.

The Mesos

Well damn, if I didn’t like The Mesos right off the bat. They’ve got a classic rock sound, but they also had some sound and melodies that instantly reminded me of 90’s rock. That twist works so well for them and gave them an extra boost, taking them away from the direction of the often overdone classic rock sound. They had great energy and sounded really good despite the acoustic issues of the venue.

With their energy, they had great stage presence and you could see how well they all worked together. You could see that they were having fun which can seriously make all the difference in the world when it comes to stage presence. Nothing takes the magic out of a show like someone on stage looking like they’re bored as fuck and would rather be somewhere else. But The Mesos kept that sweet vibe going and they did a fantastic job.

They also played some slow songs which I’ve found not a whole lot of bands do at these smaller, local shows. I definitely appreciate seeing a band do a mix of fast and energetic songs, chill songs, and even slow songs, because it shows their versatility and gives you a fuller sampling of their work.

The band has a lot of potential and I know for sure that I will be adding some of their songs to a couple of my Spotify playlists. We’re hoping to do a live stream interview with The Mesos sometimes this month, so keep your eyes peeled!

Blind Choice -1

Two thirds of Blind Choice also made it to Live Music Friday. Tanner and Dylan did an acoustic set of both covers and originals and I think it was going acoustic that was key to getting the best sound at the venue. Granted, Blind Choice is a great band as is, but Tanner and Dylan really killed it going acoustic. Not only was the music and their overall sound good, but they also had a relaxed feel about them, making it seem like you were just hanging out with some friends in their living room to chill and jam. It was a very welcoming and more personal which I found to be a nice change of pace.

The vocals were smooth and clear, making it seem as if there wasn’t a sound issue with the open area at all. Both musicians were perfectly in sync, you can tell that they work well together and while it was just two members of the band, the set spoke well for the band as a whole.

The covers they played were very well done, each one was executed near perfectly. As for the originals they played, they were fantastic, they show a lot of promise for each musician and the band as a whole. They did a dual guitar cover of Linkin Park’s “Breaking the Habit” and it definitely did the song justice. One of their originals, “Balance on the Floor”, was so damn good, it was a more personal song and super relatable.

You could see the two were having a great time and doing what they love. They even spoke briefly on continuing to move forward toward your dreams. At one point Dylan addressed the audience with some simple, yet inspirational advice, “If you’re passionate about it, don’t stop – ever.”

Jake Langley

The closing artist of the night was Jake Langley. Jake has great energy and nails the folk rock sound. His stage presence is energetic and fun while also relaxed as he just does his thing. A lot of his work that night was just kind of off the cuff, disorganized in a hippie jam-fest kind of way (not necessarily a bad thing). Jake doesn’t take himself too seriously, he can be goofy and funny, but also honest and upfront.

At one point, he brought up a hodgepodge group of musicians to do some improv music and it wasn’t that bad, they seemed to work pretty well together. One of Jake’s songs was about a friend’s struggle with and resulting death from heroin, it was powerful and honest. Personally, my favorite song that he performed was the one about the lady that fed the cats.

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