September 28, 2020

CUB Alt crowd obsesses over The Obsessives

By Heidi Cho
Arts & Entertainment Editor

CUB Alt’s show on Friday, April 13 saw some appropriately unlucky technical difficulties, but headlining band, The Obsessives, and openers Hunters Run and Tula Vera kept the crowd engaged with an eclectic mix of rock songs in the Brower Student Center Room 225.

Bairatchnyi writes profound lyrics for the band. (Miguel Gonzalez / Sports Editor)
Bairatchnyi writes profound lyrics for the band. (Meagan McDowell / Photo Editor)

The Obsessives, hailing from Philadelphia, had a retro vibe that the electronic keyboard and synthesizer amplified.

In two words, keyboardist Jackson Mansfield described their music as “Dance. World.”

Guitarist Ben Kaunitz added, “Indie dance world.”

The guitar added a high and bright element to the very laid-back and heavy pop accompaniment present throughout the entire set.

The members tried out new roles this set. Kaunitz has been a part of The Obsessives for six months, but has known the band members for years. Kaunitz and Mansfield respectively used to play the keyboard and guitar before this set.

Vocalist and songwriter Nick Bairatchnyi founded the band with Mansfield, who co-writes much of the band’s material with Bairatchnyi. Drummer Coby Haynes is new to the band.

The instrumentation varied, with the band including lesser-used percussive instruments like a rainstick.

Audience member Rachel Mihatov became a dedicated fan of The Obsessives in October.

“The lyrics are so beautiful,” Mihatov said, starstruck and struggling to find the right words. “They’re just regular people.”

Openers Hunters Run and Tula Vera got off to a late start, but rocked through the technical difficulties and hyped up the crowd.

Hunters Run, from Long Branch, New Jersey, showed off their versatility as the first band of the night.

According to bassist Sean Cuddy, a sophomore finance major, Hunters Run plays mostly rock music with ’90s alternative rock influences. The band has a six-song EP out on Spotify and is working on their debut album.

The set started off with “Getaway,” a fast-paced song, followed by “Shutter,” where drummer Tommy Allan shined.

Guitarists and co-vocalists Matt Smemkowski and Jon Messick sang and played together onstage as a dynamic duo.

Jared Boehlman, an audience member and a junior psychology major, enjoyed the “killer” set.

“They had a good sound. It was cool that they had two singers going on at the same time,” Boehlman said. “(Allan) was going way hard.”

The second opener, Tula Vera, from Montclair, New Jersey went just as hard. As soon as they started playing, people stood up and crowded the stage. Their energy was enough to fill the room twice over, and when they played together on beat, the speakers and stage shook.

Bassist Joe Jansen broke a string four songs into the set that pulled songs from their 2015 self-titled album. The previous bassist already left by the time the band paused to ask for another bass, so as Jansen put it, “yeah, I’ll figure it out.”

“Let’s give Joe a round of applause for figuring it out,” guitarist Dillan Drummond added as the audience cheered.

Drummond shredded it every time. The guitar was still a highlight even in songs without a prominent guitar part or solo.

Vocalist Claire Parcells played guitar for some songs, but her real instrument was her emotive voice, which tied the band’s punk metal energy together.

Parcells could sing as soft or loud as each song called for, her voice ranging from soft, lovely crooning to vicious rock ‘n roll screaming.

Her stage presence was gold, each emotion expressed in the song running clearly through her face. She made full use of the stage given to her, getting as close to the speakers, instruments and the audience as possible.

She headbanged with such an unexpected energy that caught the attention of audience member Elizabeth Nemec, a freshman biology major.

“The lead singer has an incredible voice,” Nemec said. “She had a great stage presence, and it was fun to watch her perform. Her energy made the whole act.”

Nemec enjoyed the harder-hitting set that included a song in drop D tuning, meaning “it’s really fucking heavy,” according to Drummond.

After “Human Progress,” the band played its final song, “Blue Skies,” which was McCaffrey’s favorite to play.

“It had good rhythm and a nice blues sound,” McCaffrey said.

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