Local acts bring spark to school

On Saturday, February 28, UPAC Concerts held a concert at Mother’s Wine Emporium in the Rensselaer Union. The concert featured opening act Bell’s Roar and local Albany group Mirk.

When I showed up with a friend, there were about 20 people total, in addition to UPAC Sound members, who were working the equipment. The room was set up with chairs on the left side, stage in the far back corner, and sound control in the middle. Mother’s as a musical venue is a weird concept; typically, in a regular concert venue that enjoys large attendance, there is a raised stage and a barrier that separates the concert goers from the band. Clearly, in Mother’s, there can be no easy way to separate the band and audience, and I ended up being an arm’s length away from the singers during both acts, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Before the show began, everyone was seated in the chairs on the left side of the room, but the speakers blocked my view, so I couldn’t even see the stage clearly. Now, I consider myself an extroverted person—at least among my friends—so I stood up and dragged my friend over to the stage to get a better view. Eventually, Sean Desiree, solo artist of Bell’s Roar, encouraged others in the audience to come closer to the stage, and the floor filled out a bit more. I was relieved that I wasn’t really the only one standing. As Desiree talked with the crowd in between songs, and later, when Mirk made witty comments, the atmosphere became warmer and less awkward, unlike when the show first began.

Bell’s Roar, as an experimental sound, was an interesting experience for me. Combined with the more personal interaction Mother’s allowed, Desiree’s pieces rang passionate and full of energy. At first, she only provided vocals on her electronically generated instrumentals, but she moved on to perform on guitar and synthesizer. My favorite song from her is “Slow.” Since the songs were performed live, Bell’s Roar also remixed some of the songs to better fit the venue’s set up and flow. Overall, though this isn’t music that I typically listen to, I enjoyed being exposed to it and its unique sound.

Mirk was more my cup of tea. Their band consists of lead vocalist Joshua Mirsky, guitarist Mike Thornton, bassist Kate Sgroi, saxophonist Chris Russell, keyboardist James Rock, and drummer Stephen Struss. Since their genre is a mix between rock and R&B, their music has a distinct summer vibe with a laid-back feel. However, during the show, the band played tracks from their soon-to-be-released album, Run, and gave a high energy performance. Thornton, Sgroi, and Rock all provided fantastic backup vocals to Mirsky, harmonizing at many parts during the set. Watching the band members interact during the act was also entertaining, with Rock and Struss playfully toss things at each other as Sgroi energetically moved around her part of the stage. Both Thornton and Russell played fast paced, skillful solos that made me wonder why they weren’t more well known. Mirksky gave a handful of rap riffs which had stellar flow, made more impressive by the fact that it was live.

Mirk also played a couple pop favorites, “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 and “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. Their spin on these hits were entertaining to see adapted to a full live band setting. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Overall, the concert was fantastic, even though Mother’s is a weird venue for music acts. Once the ice was broken, the show was a lot more enjoyable, with more people up by the stage. Both Bell’s Roar and Mirk put on energetic performances that I hadn’t experienced before. However, the room definitely could have used more than the twenty audience members that were present. I will be keeping an eye out for the next concert in the Spring Concert Series. For more information regarding future shows, visit