By Kimberly Ilkowski
The loudest place on campus every Friday night was back in action on Friday, Aug. 29, with the first official music show of the fall semester — and what better way to be welcomed back to campus than immediately being pelted with the smell of grease upon entering The Rathskeller.
The co-sponsored event by CUBRat and WTSR brought to campus festival-darlings Ghost Beach and the up-and-coming act Boxed Wine.
To start the show, Boxed Wine, based out of Rutherford, NJ, launched into a fast-paced set of indie party pop.
The band consisted of Chris Nova on vocals and rhythm guitar, Ralph Nicastro on lead guitar, Mike Cerisano on bass and vocals, Steve McCarthy on drums and the band’s newest addition, Andrea Scanniello on keyboard.
The quintet played tracks off of the 2013 album, “Cheap, Fun,” including “Tearing It Up,” “Cannibal” and a brand new song called “Innocent” that they debuted for the packed Rat crowd.
Aside from the high energy and danceable songs, the band also performed a few covers, which included an obligatory salute to Bruce Springsteen with “Dancing in the Dark” and a sped up, high-pitched version of Weezer’s “Hash Pipe.”
Nicastro, who began the band with his long-time roommate Nova, works at a recording studio and mixed Modern Baseball’s debut album, “Sports.” After writing original music and cycling through multiple members, Boxed Wine has finally found a perfect fit with its current lineup.
The band pulls inspiration from indie rock of the early 2000s like The Strokes, Tokyo Police Club and Hot Hot Heat. Nicastro, Nova and Scanniello also have an electronic side project called Marque Dos.
“We’re always learning how to put on a better show,” Nova said.
The band is working on a follow up of “Cheap, Fun” that Nicastro described as “bigger and poppier with more guitar riffs. We’ve added in piano and Chris’s vocals are more subdued — it’s a more mature sound.”
What made the set particularly special was the band’s positive energy. The camaraderie among bandmates was apparent with joking and laughter between songs and smiles throughout the show. The band’s happiness, along with the music, was contagious.
Next up, Ghost Beach brought the grooves with its self-described tropical grit pop. The NYC duo had the crowd run to the front of the stage, tossed around bright blue beach balls and wore neon shades courtesy of WTSR.
Josh Ocean on vocals, bass and synthesizers and Eric “Doc” Mendelsohn on guitars and synthesizers were accompanied by Chris Berry on drums for their dynamic set.
The band played many songs off its 2014 release, “Blonde,” including the hit “Miracle” and “Tear Us Apart,” as well as old favorites from its two 2013 EPs “Modern Tongue” and “Miracle.”
Over the summer the band hit the festival scene, playing sets at Chive Fest and Firefly Music Festival. They will also be performing at TBD Fest in West Sacramento, CA in October.
“It was a crazy thing (playing Firefly),” Mendelsohn said after the show. “It was a lot of fun, and we got to see a lot of great acts ourselves. It’s awesome to see such a large amount of people come together like that.”
The band’s upcoming US tour, “The Champagne Showers Tour with Cherub and Gibbz,” begins this week in Knoxville, TN.
No matter where you may end up seeing them perform, Ghost Beach always wants you to remember one thing while you’re at one of its shows.
“We have a message in our music we hope to get across to all of you,” Ocean said. “It’s to be happy and to just let it all go.”