by Ricky Haldis
It was a dark and chilly Autumn night when I found myself walking along the desolate Main Street in the heart of West Chester. The small college town seemed abandoned, absent of any activity within the rows of stores and houses. As I neared my destination, a distant, rhythmic thump pulsed through the air, occasionally becoming more audible as it escaped through an opening door. If it wasn’t for the muffled din of music, I would have nearly walked straight past the venue, which was seemingly camouflaged among the buildings, until I saw the distinctive logo that read “The Note.”
I entered The Note just as the opening band, MisterWives, struck their last chord and left the stage. Having underestimated the size of the building, I was immediately struck by the sheer volume of the crowd, which packed the room from wall to wall. It wasn’t long after I elbowed my way to a spot along the railing of the balcony that The Royal Concept took the stage. Again, the crowd exploded with excitement, this time cheering even louder than before. Immediately, I was impressed by the power that exploded from this band’s thick sound. The audience was transfixed on the quartet, whose frontman, David Larson, frequently slung a guitar over his shoulder, but bounced around the stage, occasionally pausing to lay down a layer of synth on the keyboard that stood in front of him. The apex of their set took place as Larson sang into his vocoder microphone, while the other members joined him in perfect harmony. The audience sang along with astonishing accuracy and the band finished up their set with one last powerful ballad before quickly exiting the stage.
As The Royal Concept broke down their gear to remove it from the stage, I got a chance to really feel the energy that was waiting to be released into the room. The mass of lively college kids chattered below me, dancing to the house music, and the beat of a bass drum being sound-checked. As the American Authors set up their gear, the crowd cheered each time a new member took to the stage. Soon enough, the band gave the thumbs-up, and the house music quickly died. A tall, tight-jeaned man, stood at the front of the stage as the trio of musicians behind him pulled the trigger on their first song. Immediately, everyone was dancing, and knew every single word to every single song. The dance floor became a sea of dancing and jumping college-goers, who seemed to be completely content with partying hard on a Tuesday night.
Throughout their set, American Authors frequently swapped instruments from the usual guitar-bass-drum format. The guitarist would often grab a banjo or mandolin, while the frontman took his guitar, and the bassist hopped on the small keyboard to his side. A large drum that rested at the front of the stage took a brutal series of beatings from each band member, who made sure to keep the pulse alive. Their sound really reminded me of bands like The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, and had an incredibly impressive sense of pop mentality. Their choruses were catchy, and each of the four members belted them out in absolutely flawless harmony.
Overall, this was one of the most enjoyable shows I’ve been to in a long time. Each band displayed fantastic musicianship and true devotion to their passion. For the next month, American Authors and The Royal Concept will continue their tour into New England, before heading out west. Be sure to catch these guys before they get too big, so you can say you knew of them before they hit the Grammys!