Seeing a concert is always an adventure. Whether one waits for months to experience their favorite band live or buys tickets to a band they have never heard of with no expectations, hearing live music always leaves concert-goers with a story. I happened to see Marian Hill live on October 10th, and I was part of the latter group: I bought tickets with several hours left until doors opened and went in completely blind. I am very glad I did; the concert featured three different, but equally stunning bands that blew me away with every new song. Although Marian Hill was the headlining artist, their two openers did just as good of a job of setting the mood and amping up the crowd.
First up, about half an hour after doors opened, a little-known band named Shaed took the stage. Composed of a singer, a keyboardist, and a drum pad, they quickly turned the room from a standing mob of people into a swaying collective of individuals. Featuring indie-pop-esque music, Shaed came off as lighthearted and fun to listen to. They did what an opener is meant to do: excite the crowd and get them ready for the main act. They sprayed foam and flashed lights during their songs, and gave out stickers to promote themselves. My only complaints during this set are not necessarily related to the band, but the venue. Numerous times, the band asked for the lights to be either turned off or dimmed, and their requests fell on deaf ears. I felt, had the lights been turned off, more people would have gotten into the music. Who wants to dance with the lights on?
The second band to come on stage was Vérité, and their approach was more somber. Vérité is the brainchild of Kelsey Byrne, who writes her own music and hires live musicians to accompany her on stage. During her set, I noticed more people showing up and packing the dance floor, probably because she was better known than the first group. I found her voice to be much more mellow than that of the Shaed vocalist. She created an intimate atmosphere in which concert-goers could relax. For her first show in Albany, I think Vérité did a splendid job of keeping the crowd entertained. As an added plus, the lights were turned off as her set began.
The main act of this concert, Marian Hill came on at around 10 pm, and by that time, the small enclosure of the Jupiter Hall was packed. The band started off with their most famous song, “One Time”, and the somber yet emotional saxophone set the crowd cheering. Samantha Gongol, the band’s vocalist, sung in a hushed but powerful voice, while the DJ, Jeremy Lloyd, mixed and re-mixed her voice in live time. To top it off, live saxophone improvisation was provided by Steve Davit, who tours with the band and appears on their album. I liked Marian Hill a lot, and even though I knew next to nothing about them going in, I left a big fan of their work. Samantha’s voice changed pitch and intonation several times through songs and contrasted nicely with the minimalist drums and infrequent bursts of sax. It was a no-brainer that the crowed clapped along and cheered at the end of every song and that an encore was both requested and speedily given at the end of the night.
Overall, I was very satisfied with my experience. I felt like all three acts were phenomenal, and look forward to overplaying their music on Spotify within the next few weeks. I expect that we all will be hearing more songs from these artists on popular radio. They are sure to be big.