Hammer Records has seen a lot of solo artists perform. We have been to a lot of open mics and acoustic shows. We have also seen a lot of singer-songwriter acts take their songs and try to introduce a band into the sound. Connor Roff is one of the few that we have seen do it right and it really took his songs to the next level. After hearing the recordings on his Facebook page we were expecting a chill acoustic set, but open arriving at the Cellar we were greeted with a full band set up. The drummer was fantastic and really complimented the songs. The bass was simple but dynamic to allow Connor to fill most of the sound out with his guitar and vocals. Connor's charm and smile illuminated the room and eventually everyone crowded around the front to hear his well written tunes. During his set he asked a guest vocalist to join him on stage and our only criticism was that she tended to sing slightly off key, which made Connor sway slightly off pitch as well when they were singing at the same time. Other than that, it was a very pleasant set.
Feller was up next. Not having a Facebook page or any links to music that works really makes it hard for us to get a feel of a band before seeing them. After setting up, the sound guy turns off the club music and all eyes turn to the band. The lead singer/guitarist gets up there and starts tuning his guitar; no tuner, just using his ear. This is a show at a venue, not a jam room party. A big part of our judging marks go to being prepared. Having a tuner which band mates can share ensures that once you hit the stage you can start playing as soon as possible. That just seems like common sense to me. Upon finishing tuning, he turns to the bass player and HE starts to tune off of the guitarist's strings. It's really hard to tune accurately using one's ear unless you have perfect pitch. As later stated in their set "I don't know about the rest of my band but, I'm not here to win, I'm just here to play." Which set the tone for their performance in a nutshell. The vocals were unique and very Kurt Cobain styled. The bass had a great tone and played solidly. Their sound as a whole was pretty good, just a little rough around the edges. The best song in my opinion was the last song, which was a Nirvana cover song. Nothing wrong with that. Nirvana is a hard band to cover and they did a great job at it.
Falling For Scarlet took to the stage with a fury of rock! The rhythm guitarist rocked out so hard and played great! The band as a whole had a great marketable sound and look. Besides the rhythm guitarist, I personally think the stage presence could have been worked on a little bit more. I know singing back up and playing is hard, but when you are not singing it doesn't mean you are tied to the microphone stand. Go explore the space. I know the Cellar stage isn't the biggest, but the band can either make that stage look huge, or look tiny. The bass player was in the back and was covered by the rhythm guitarist which limited his movement, but he sang great and moved appropriately. Tight instrumentals and a great flow between songs.
The Oceanographers were the closing band and had brought the biggest crowd of the night. First thing I noticed was that the guitarist had the largest pedal board I've ever seen. Usually it's sign of a well produced tone, or an over zealous guitar player. Fortunately, it was the first one. All the sounds from these guys were pristine, clean and sounded rather grand. The dynamics of the band were incredible. You could tell these guys have been playing together for years and practice weekly. Feeding off each others' energy and delivering it right back at the audience! We highly recommend seeing these guys at their next show.
In the end, it was a pretty crazy night! Which for us actually ended up having our car towed because of being short by 30 mins on the parking meter. (Oops!) Looking forward to next week! If any bands want more of the photos taken that night, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.