The Rustic Overtones came to campus for the first SAC hosted concert of the year last Friday. From Portland, Maine, Rustic, as their devotees call them, is a six man outfit consisting of a guitarist, drummer, bassist, keyboardist and two saxophonists.
The instrumentation is non-standard and so is their sound. It combines the driving rhythms of rock with the grooves of soul and hip-hop, and tops it off with the bright horns of a ska band. On Friday night, they unleashed this musical arsenal on the College, and the students were blown over.
The show opened in style with a campus band, the New Originals. The New Originals played a soulful mix of cover songs by Aretha Franklin, Stretch and Dusty Springfield. Although the band only played to a handful of people, the funky sounds of James Brown’s “I Feel Good” got the crowd on their feet and dancing. Eliza Siegel ’04 hit every note dead on with a style and grace resembling that of the Godfather of Soul himself. Not to be outdone by Siegel, newcomer to the Williams live music scene, David Cohen ’05, wailed on his saxophone. Standing tall amongst cheers of his name, Cohen maintained a casual coolness while subjecting his instrument to his musical whim on songs like “Spooky.”
Staring out from behind the drum kit was Jason Lucas ’02. Lucas’s keen sense of rhythm kept the band in line all night, at least until he could shrug them off to pound and stomp his way through one after another impressive solo. Filling out the rhythm section and grinning like the Cheshire Cat, Lucas “Goody” Goodbody ’03 plucked his electric bass with particular flair. “He jumped up like a real rock star at the end of every song,” said Jae Cody’03, one of many wowed by Goody’s dazzling acrobatics.
The highlight of the set was when the band broke into “Get Down Tonight.” Fans bum-rushed the stage and got their groove on. Dancing, singing, laughing, and generally getting in the way of the musicians, which is what a live show is all about.
When asked about the band’s name, guitarist Dave Goodman ’03 said, “First we were The Originals. Then we found out that another band had that name, so then we became the New Originals. But now I’ve heard that they just changed their name to the Regulars, so we could go back to The Originals, but what’s the point?”
The New Originals shuffled off amongst chants of “encore” and, a little while later, two red lights came on and the smoke machines whirred into action. Like a dragon’s glowing nose, the effects breathed forth the fire of the Rustic Overtones. They hit the first note with force.
Combing a mixture of the old and new, the Rustic Overtones’ set featured songs from their newest release on Tommy Boy Records, Nueva Viva, and the older Ripcord releases, Long Division and Rooms by the Hour. The tracks off of Rooms by the Hour got the best crowd response and made up the majority of the show.
A few songs in, guitarist and lead vocalist Dave Gutter tossed his ax off the side of the stage and announced that they were going to play “Combustible,” a song that the band hopes will break them into the public spotlight. They are filming the video in October, and Gutter encouraged everyone to call TRL and request it. The band played and the kids combusted into a dancing frenzy as Gutter continuously stabbed his air in the hand like a general marshalling his troops.
The whole set exuded energy. The bassist, Jon Roods, of the Rustic Overtones must have seen The New Originals set because he prepared himself to put Goody’s happy bouncing to shame. Climbing on top of the largest speaker, he flung himself onto the stage while ripping a chord at the same time. The crowd cheered and the band kept jamming.
Finally, the band played their single, “Check.” The kids in the front popped up and down like prairie dogs and those in the back yelled “Check” on cue. The band played their last song, thanked the crowd and looked to leave.
Then, amidst rapturous applause and chants of “RUSTIC, RUSTIC” the crew reassembled on the stage for two more songs including “Feast or Famine.” The stage went dark except for four blue lights and the band sauntered in to a deliberate groove. Slowly, band members dropped out and left the stage until there was only the sound of the bass and the vocals.
Then the bassist left and Gutter went into a dawdling free-style about pollution, retribution, destitution and other feast and famine themed thoughts as the crowd swayed. The song took the red hot energy that had been gathering steam all night and carefully brought it down to a post-coital glow. He left with a murmur and a earful of applause.