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Alt rockers perform stripped-down acoustic sets

By Emily Laskey

Not every concert leaves an audience with an “electric feeling (to) take home,” but that is just what indie rock band Vinyl Theatre provided for students at the College. The Milwaukee-based band, composed of frontman and guitarist Keegan Calmes, synthesizer Chris Senner and drummer Nick Cesarz, visited the Decker Social Space on Friday, Feb. 26, to perform a rare acoustic set featuring some of their popular hits — allowing for both long-term and new fans to get a taste of the softer, more intimate side of the rising rock band.

Cold Fronts's performance includes acoustic guitar and double bass. (Dana Gorab / Staff Photographer)
Cold Fronts’s performance includes acoustic guitar and double bass. (Dana Gorab / Staff Photographer)

The Philadelphia indie rock group, Cold Fronts, founded by lead singer and guitarist Craig Almquist, opened the show with a laidback performance that set the tone of the evening — alternative rock-gone-acoustic.

Almquist’s comfortable charm and the band’s intricate usage of a xylophone and double bass in its humorously-inspired songs made for an overall relaxed and interesting set. Cold Fronts provided a complimentary segue into Vinyl Theatre’s performance.

Set by ever-changing multi-color lights, the stage lit up for Vinyl Theatre and cast a colorful light on the already-vibrant show of the seasoned rock band. Electric synth accents and steady box-drum rhythms in Vinyl Theatre’s slowed-down set — provided by Senner and Cesarz — added a subtle pop element into the group’s performance.

While the band bears similarities to alternative giants such as Two Door Cinema Club and Twenty One Pilots, frontman Calmes set Vinyl Theatre apart with his effortless engagement with the songs and the audience, exuding passion and connection through the band’s wider-known hits like “Breaking Up My Bones” and “Shine On.” Calmes demonstrated a powerful vocal command that delivered the band’s complex lyrics in an engaging way.

The band’s audience, made up of new and old fans alike, was able to vibe with the band’s seamless transition between songs with seldom interruption. The group’s talent, as individuals as well as the collective band, is cause for Vinyl Theatre’s rising popularity among the indie rock scene, especially over the past year when the group toured with fellow indie rockers Twenty One Pilots.

“It’s like we were more of an opening act before, and now we’re the headliner,” Calmes said.

Their inventive sound, dubbed by Calmes as “ever-evolving,” has been on the climb since the band’s formation in 2012. Their 2014 debut album, “Electrogram,” peaked at 35 on Billboard’s “Top Heatseekers” and the band only hopes for greater success with its upcoming sophomore album, which is set for release later this year.

“It’s an evolution,” Cesarz said. “We never want to sound like anybody else, so all we ever do is experiment with new sounds.”

The band gave students at the College a glimpse of what is to come on its upcoming album with the song “My Fault,” which foreshadowed a more electronic feel in Vinyl Theatre’s new music.

Vinyl Theatre is sure to only reap more and more success and fans as their unique sound further changes and evolves.


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