Alpenglow revives the Log with charm, good humor

Vermont-based folk-rock indie band Alpenglow delivered an acclaimed and entertaining performance at the Log on Saturday night. Photo courtesy of alpenglowmusic.com
Vermont-based folk-rock indie band Alpenglow delivered an acclaimed and entertaining performance at the Log on Saturday night. Photo courtesy of alpenglowmusic.com

Continuing the revival of the Log as a unique space for programming, the College’s All Campus Entertainment (ACE) hosted the Vermont-based indie band Alpenglow last Saturday night at 9 p.m. The enchanting band exceeded all expectations, accompanied by ACE’s free snacks, a cash bar and the intimate and warm character of the Log.

The Log opened at 8 p.m., allowing plenty of time for conversation, drinks and snacks before the show. Alpenglow began promptly at 9 p.m., diving straight into their first song onstage in the Log’s main space. The crowd filtered into the cozy but comfortable standing room before the stage to enjoy a casual evening of great music.

While it’s easy for bands of their “folk-rock” genre to sink into melancholia, Alpenglow is never boring, balancing quiet tenderness with dynamic buoyancy. The band’s earnest lyrics and animated melodies have drawn comparisons to Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists. Graeme Daubert’s agile,

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honest vocals are grounded by an array of instrumentals, incorporating harmonica, banjo and violin with guitar and keys, as well as additional vocals by Elori Kramer and Peter Coccoma. Kenneth Root and Colin Weeks round out the quintet’s sound and personality on drums and bass.

Alpenglow shines most in “Solitude,” the title track of their EP, with unswerving vocals and varied melody. Compelling lyrics like “If I wanted my solitude, I’d move to the city” are paired with moments of quiet relief from a persistent tempo. The backup vocals, particularly Kramer’s are compelling and complete the song. Daubert’s voice and tone here sounds like that of The Middle East or Beirut’s Zach Condon.

Again, where other musicians in their cohort can be dreary or awkward, Alpenglow’s members are charismatic and fun. Midway through the set, the group instigated a search for the ugliest expression. Of the three contenders induced to the stage with the promise of prizes, the winner received a “three-pack” of Red Bull, suspiciously resembling a four pack missing a can, but insisted to be something special by the band. While the prize was a bit of a letdown, the group’s good humor was charmingly evident. Had their set been longer, perhaps Alpenglow’s members could have interacted even more with the audience.

“Autumn Drone, Pt. II” provides a welcome heavier foundation for lighter vocals, piano and tambourine. Beautiful harmonies and the introduction of trumpet and trombone on the EP fully round out the song. “Fields” is more solemn, yet remains consistent with the band’s sound, therefore creating a versatile and attractive EP of four crucial and complex songs worth listening to over again.

Alpenglow ended their set to enthusiastic calls for an encore. The band obliged with “Catskills,” the second track off Solitude. Coccoma requested the audience’s silence to accommodate Daubert’s near-whispered vocals. “Catskills” is an unhurried meditation, the closest the band came to being too languid. It regained any distracted listener’s attention and soon returned to its leisurely reflection, concluding with the renewed energy of intriguing violin and echoing background vocals. The song gently eased its listeners into the rest of their evening without tedium.

Formed in winter 2012, Alpenglow is named for a red band of light that appears on the summits of mountains just before sunrise or after sunset. They released their first four-track EP Solitude in Oct. 2013, in anticipation of a full-length album inspired by and recorded in a hilltop chapel. The band has toured nonstop since June 2013, recently with Brooklyn-based upstart Lucius and throughout New England and the Midwest. Their EP is for sale at alpenglowband.bandcamp.com.

Because Alpenglow concluded their set at the relatively early hour of 10 p.m., many members of its audience were able to bar-hop to the new Pera Mediterranean Bistro. Reflecting what seems to be a surge of musicianship at the College as of late, the College’s own group Gentlemen Art Thieves – Brice Green ’15, Kevin Lawkins ’14, Paul de Konkoly Thege ’14 and Logan Jester ’16 – performed covers of bands like Talking Heads and Modest Mouse as well as original songs “Runaway” and “Take Me Home” as seated audience members enjoyed cocktails, PBR and a half-priced menu. Together the two events demonstrated a rising collaboration between community spaces and fostering the arts.