Three stellar Columbus bands christened the Thirty One West stage in Newark, Ohio.
“I’m Phil Cogley and this is my band,” The Saturday Giant motioned to the electronic instruments surrounding him. The art rock one-man-band started the opening night lineup. He performed all components of his songs live, from drums and backing tracks to guitar and vocals. I was as deeply impressed by his pure musical talent as I was by his energetic performance. He had the crowd dancing and bopping around with him to beats that he created on the spot. Cogley stuck around after his performance to talk to fans and to sell merchandise, which included “Make Saturday Giant Again” hats.
The next opener was Playing to Vapors, another Columbus favorite. The genre of the five-piece has best been described as “groove-based atmospheric rock.” They kept the upbeat vibe of The Saturday Giant alive as the crowd grew. Lucas Harris’ falsetto carries across heavy guitar progressions and percussion, creating an ambient rock sound that is incredibly unique.
I’ll admit that I was most excited to see Saintseneca. While I’ve gone to school in the Columbus area for over three years, I’ve never had the chance to see the folk-rock band live. I was thrilled to drive just ten minutes from campus to see them play.
As Zac Little, the group’s lead vocalist, sang his first few notes, a hush fell over the crowd. He has the kind of voice that pulls you in and puts you in a trance. My friend turned to me in awe and simply said “wow.” As the rest of the quintet joined in and the songs became more upbeat, a couple rushed to the front and danced together, twirling uninhibited. The whole thing was incredibly beautiful. Everywhere I looked, people were smiling. I overheard a group of friends say, “I can’t believe this is Newark.”
If you didn’t go to Thirty One West last night, I highly recommend going to one or all of their shows this week. Having a venue this wonderful so close to campus is an opportunity we can’t take for granted in small-town Ohio.