Following up Porches and PWR BTTM is a daunting task. Well, it’s not one I’ve ever been faced with, but I imagine it’s daunting. Ask Forth Wanderers and the band will probably agree. They just did it.
The Montclair, New Jersey, natives headlined WERW’s launch party this month in Schine Underground. It was a role that PWR BTTM assumed last semester and Porches a year ago — both being rockin’ shows featuring acts that, if you wouldn’t say they’ve already blown up (they have), they’re at the very least on the verge of doing so.
And so the bar was quite high for Forth Wanderers. And for a not-hip guy such as myself, I was intrigued to see if a band that had not previously been on my radar would be able to reach that bar. They did.
I’ll be honest here, and most of this stems from my Forth Wanderers uninformedness (if that’s not a word, it is now), but I think to fully get a grasp of how good this kind music is live, you have to come in with some knowledge of it beforehand. I didn’t know a single lyric, and I sure wasn’t going to try to decipher what vocalist Ava Trilling was dishing out through Schine Underground’s killer soundsystem. It might not have been the perfect environment to be introduced to the band, and that’s ok. What’s important is that I was introduced and I’ll gladly come back for more.
It’s hard to say I came away with a solidly defined notion of what Forth Wanderers is besides another really fun indie (pop? I don’t know, man. I’ve never been good at applying genres) band. I found comfort in the fact that midway through the band’s set, the kind fellow next to me struck up a brief conversation and admitted that even though he considered himself a fan, he couldn’t really peg Forth Wanderers with a distinct adjective. He said they have a certain vibe, but lacked any word that truly encompassed their sound. I offered “chill” as a filler, more for conversation’s sake than anything else, and he agreed. I suppose “chill” could suffice as accurate, but really it doesn’t do Forth Wanderers any justice.
The band was fairly static on stage, and they didn’t need to exhibit a behavior that was any more lively. Their performance induced plenty of giddy head-bobbing through the sparse crowd. Surely a lot less of a charismatic duo compared to PWR BTTM, but not to any fault. If anyone in the audience needed motion in a performance, though, that demand was met by the evening’s opening act, Overcoats.
The duo, made up of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell, was simply great. Their set was carefully choreographed while still holding on to an element of free-flow. It began and ended with a hug, maybe the only thing sweeter than the harmonies between the two gals. They didn’t need much more than the few gadgets they had on a rig at the back of the stage; everything about them was minimalist in the best of ways. Overcoats occupied the opening slot but possessed headline talent. So be advised — their debut LP drops April 21 and should be a winner. “Hold Me Close” demonstrated the quality we can expect to hear on it.
WERW has done a commendable job in recent semesters by bringing talent to this campus that otherwise would never have a reason to come. For proof, look no further than the fact that both acts at this launch party admitted this was their first time visiting Syracuse. Despite the fact that Forth Wanderers might not carry the prominence of a PWR BTTM just yet, there’s no need hold them in the shadow of a band that was here months ago. This time around, Forth Wanderers — and Overcoats alike — were big-time in their own right.
I’d hate to have to follow them up next semester.