By Kimberly Ilkowski
Welcome to the Rathskeller, a place where pounding drums and fast strums call home. On Friday, Sept. 12, Boston alt-pop group The Color and Sound and the New York City-based indie-rock foursome Born Cages took the stage to show students at the College what they’re made of.
The evening began with The Color and Sound jumping on stage after grabbing a quick bite of waffle fries and cheese steaks.
The band, lead by vocalist Chris LaRocque, guitarist Nick Stewart, bassist Joe Aylward, aux percussionist Ally Mahoney and drummer Steve Aliperta, played tracks off its new EP, “Peace of Mind,” which comes out on DIY record label Black Numbers on Tuesday, Sept. 16.
The standout track off the EP, “Cigarettes,” draws clear influences from the band fun., particularly LaRocque’s similar falsetto to frontman Nate Ruess.
Later in the set, the band engaged the audience and asked students about their time here at the College. In the song, “Graves,” the band altered its lyrics to say, “When I’m cold, I’ll think of TCNJ.”
Their undeniable energy lent itself to an incredible live performance. LaRocque has a voice made for pop-punk with the perfect balance of whine and serious vocal chops.
The band ended the set with its favorite song to play live, “Gregory” — a track Mahoney describes as the band’s time to shake it off and just have fun. The song featured chanted vocals from everyone in the group.
The Color and Sound formed as a collaborative effort between friends, who at the time were in three separate bands. They mixed together their diverse musical styles in order to produce the March 2013 EP, “The Spring Tour.” They hope to go on tour this winter to promote their work.
Following their performance, Born Cages lit up the stage with neon lighting effects that burst different colors and patterns throughout the set.
Comprised of Vlad Holiday on vocals and guitar, Amanda Carl on keyboards, Dave Tantao on drums and Matt Maroulakos on bass, the band played tracks off its EP, “Sidelines,” released in June 2013 via Razor & Tie Records.
Coming mid-Feb. 2015, it will release its first full-length album, but in the meantime it shared some new songs with the Rat audience.
The song “Bigger Than Me” featured ’80s style guitar hooks and synthesizers, while “I Keep Moving On” had a darker overtone with demanding drums.
At one point, Holiday ran up to the tables and had students sing along with him into his microphone for everyone to hear.
The crowd favorite and latest single, “Rolling Down The Hill,” is a poppy blast about yearning to get away from “normal life.”
The end of the set heavily featured Holiday’s guitar skills with multiple solos.
As a whole, the band’s genre-bending set pieced together many different styles, ultimately making it hard to pinpoint its playful, experimental sound.
On Friday, Sept. 5, the band played a live acoustic studio session at beloved Philly radio station Radio 104.5.
“It was amazing,” Holiday said. “(DJ) Wendy Rollins is a sweetheart, and they took great care of us. Hopefully we can do more stuff with them in the future.”
As for the band’s upcoming tour dates throughout the fall, Holiday is most excited to play in Chicago.
“There’s a song off the new record that was inspired by a fan in Chicago,” Holiday said. “We opened up for Guns ‘N’ Roses there once, so it’s special to us.
With new albums and stacked tour dates, both of the nights’ acts have a lot to look forward to in the months ahead.