On Thursday night, The Sett at Union South was unrecognizable. Masses of students with knit beanies, ripped jeans, worn converse and flannel shirts claimed the familiar college eatery for the night. Excitement increased in anticipation for the music that would soon overtake the room. Green wristbands were passed around, the tech assistants finished their wiring and girls in high-waisted pants and pigtails flocked to the stage as the lights dimmed. It was clear that the night was about to officially start.
Taryn Miller of the band Your Friend quietly graced the stage. Miller’s big glasses, floppy hair and small stature suggested timidity and introversion. Her music soon revealed her to be self-reflective and content, yet engaging in presentation. Hunched over the keyboard in concentration, Miller knit her brow as she became fully engaged in her music. Her melodic and soft vocals, holding the same full-bodied sound as The Cranberries, were haunting as they filled the room with a newly kindled atmosphere. The sound drifted from meditative and calm to loud and powerful.
The song “Tame One” was the emotional highlight of her performance. Each note was raw and stripped-down as Miller’s vocals echoed throughout the room. The crowd shook as the slow song crescendoed into a loud power ballad, with symbols crashing and penetrating the misty air. Miller remained composed and centered amid her band members dynamically moving to the beat around her; she was the calm within the storm. Guitars reverberated as her first song ended on a commanding note. A stirring opening for the night, Your Friend captured a sound that evoked a sobering rebellion call.
Alex G took the stage next and instantly the atmosphere shifted to accommodate him. Your Friend was the somber and poignant opener, while Alex G was the angst-filled middle act. Through gritted teeth, he held his microphone close, rocking mechanically back and forth while he crooned ’90s grunge refrains that held the audience captive.
There was an unapologetic confidence to Alex G’s music that felt chilling, yet severely personal. In the song “Icehead,” Alex erratically screamed into the microphone, shredding the silence and creating a rift of anger in its place.
As a transition to the final act, Maya Laner of Porches strolled onto the stage to sing a breezy duet with Alex G. She casually grooved to the beat as her angelic voice was introduced to the crowd, a taste of what was to come.
Laner soon returned to the stage with her band, Porches. As the final act, Porches ended the night with a technicolor bang. Aaron Maine waltzed onto the stage with burning incense in one hand and a beer in the other. Both Laner’s and Maine’s platinum blonde hair was illuminated in the dark as they turned to face away from the audience. They began their first song by synchronically shaking their hips to the beat, creating an effervescent roar from the crowd. They both turned around to face the enthused spectators as they swayed with their guitars, fully engrossing the audience in their synth-pop ’80s sound. Maine monotonously stammered “too much fun” into the microphone in between songs, a perfect moment that captured his stage persona. Porches was reminiscent of the detached pop stars of the ’80s such as The Cars or New Order, yet with an electronic and sedative twist. The crowd fed off of Maine’s eccentricity. His knee-sliding across the stage was one of many bizarre moves of the night, including the keyboardist performing a backflip. In a specific instant, Laner strummed her bass while perched on a bandmate’s shoulders in the audience, an artist surrounded by a sea of her followers. Nearing the end of the night, Maine told the whole crowd to lie down. The audience obeyed as Laner and Maine clutched their microphones and harmoniously sung with signature blank faces.
While chanting the meditative stoner hit “Hour,” Maine’s painted nails drifted from clutching his heart to his stomach as he stared in a trance toward the distance. His daring transition to vulnerability signified the deep contextual waters explored in their new album, Pool.
When it was time for the show to end, Maine simply retorted "bye" and walked offstage while the wild crowd begged for an encore. "I did it for the notes," he stated as a testament to his art. He returned to the stage alone, mumbling "I'm scared I'm gonna forget the words" before strumming the song “Xanny Bar,” a quieting melody to slow the pace and end an enchanting night. Once the stage was dark and the crowd dispersed, the leftover energy hung in the air like a thick mist.