By Connor Iapoce
In the darkened amphitheater of the Library basement, a bit of New Jersey pride was in full swing on Feb. 4 for the first CUB Alt show of the semester. The local solo artists, whose performances unwound throughout a rainy night, showcased a sonic connection.
The headliner was Martin Courtney, best known as the frontman providing lead vocals and guitar for the indie band Real Estate. Courtney played a mixture of his solo songs, such as 2015’s “Many Moons” and Real Estate songs from their expansive discography. Courtney’s relaxed stage presence and banter with the audience added to the show’s comfortable feel.
?Courtney’s music combines elements of indie rock and pop with jangly guitars and dreamy vocals. Usually backed by the four other members of his band, Courtney put the weight of the more expansive songs on his back with just vocals and guitar. He often seemed to look for assistance from the backing band but never lost his step on the stage.
When Courtney started playing one of Real Estate’s most popular songs, “Talking Backwards,” the crowd came alive, many singing the words with him He played a new song off Real Estate’s upcoming record for the first time and even took a request from the crowd when the set was nearing its close.
“I love Real Estate more than you could ever imagine,” said Seva Galant, a sophomore health and exercise science major. “They’re one of the first bands I grew up listening to. (I’m) really happy that they came here today.”
Trace Mountains, which is the project of songwriter Dave Benton, also received a lot of support from the audience. Benton has been a staple of the larger New York City and New Jersey music scene, playing in the popular band LVL UP, which headlined an ALT show at the College in 2017.
Trace Mountains combines elements of punk and folk with a lo-fi vibe. While Benton talked between songs, he still allowed his music to take full effect.
Jack Sofka, a senior English major, performed his project Format War. Accompanied by a singular, glowing red light, Sofka played an atmospheric set, strumming his guitar and singing softly into the mic. He received cheers from the crowd after giving props to his friends at CUB for booking the show.
Brian Etheridge, a senior interactive multimedia major, is a big fan of the way Courtney’s music fosters community and was stoked that he made time to visit the College.
“The show was so wholesome, very close and very connected,” he said.