By Kimberly Ilkowski
Dan “Soupy” Campbell began his two-day residency at the College playing an intimate, acoustic set in the Rathskeller with his solo project Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties on Friday, April 24. The following night, however, Campbell took a complete 180, bursting with energy as he performed with his band The Wonder Years during CUB’s Spring Concert.
The dramatic difference in each act clearly showcased the lead singer’s versatility and mastery of the genre. When Campbell performs in Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties, he quite literally becomes Aaron West — embodying the new persona with all his trials and tribulations.
As he strummed his acoustic guitar for the large gathering of students at the Rat, Campbell spoke openly and genuinely in character as West about how his wife left him and the dreaded aftermath that followed.
This storyline is the heart of Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties’ 2014 concept album, “We Don’t Have Each Other.” Campbell’s lyrics and melodies often offered a chilling effect due to their sincerity, further blurring the line between the two men.
“There’s a ton of media out there that can make us emotional without being real,” Campbell said after the show. “Just knowing loss and translating loss, it’s not that hard when you think about it. Most fiction can make us feel.”
Between songs, Campbell told anecdotes that prefaced the next track, whether it was about his mom’s reaction to his suffering (“Aaron, take the car and run”) or a stranger’s wisdom (“I felt like I was hitting rock bottom every six months when a homeless man told me it would get better.”)
With lyrics that echoed the aching of Aaron West like the opening lines, “And it hurts like a sunburn/ wakes me up from a deep sleep” found on the track “Get Me Out of Here Alive,” emotions ran high in the audience.
Other songs performed included, “Runnin’ Scared,” “The Thunderbird Inn” and “You Ain’t No Saint,” in which he earnestly chants, “you ain’t no saint and I ain’t one either.”
Although the other members of the band were absent from the night’s performance, they’re all in the early stages of developing their second concept album, one in which Campbell has already scripted the next part of the drama.
“The story has only just begun,” he said.
It was a humbling experience for opening act Watermedown to take the Rat stage before one of his idols.
As the solo project of singer and guitarist Jonny Mays, he shared a similar sentiment with the crowd of die-hard fans.
“Dan Campbell has touched my life, and I’m sure he’s touched many of the lives in here as well,” Mays said during his set.
Mays played a variety of songs from his EPs “Except/ Accept Yourself” and “Perfect Is Pointless,” as well as new material he has been working on with Buffalo, N.Y. band Head North.
These songs and many more will be featured on his upcoming, month-long tour which will take him up and down the east coast.
Mays successfully set the tone of the evening with his own brand of intensely impassioned music, often times stepping away from the microphone to yell as hard as he could before diving right back into the surge of his turbulent sea.