Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indie concert is ‘journey through time and space’

KCCR showcases folk music in Lagerquist

By Alison Haywood, A&E Reporter

Lagerquist Hall, which is usually associated with classical music, housed a laid-back indie concert featuring student musician senior Jenny Snipstead and Portland-based band Harlowe and the Great North Woods last Friday.

I thought I was fairly familiar with different genres of indie music, but I had never heard anything like Harlowe and the Great North Woods before.

About 140 PLU students attended the hour-and-a-half concert, including 12 KCCR DJs and representatives from KCNS and The Mast

While I didn’t find the performance terribly engaging, it was a deeply emotional experience I am glad I exposed myself to.

Snipstead opened the concert with a solo performance, only using her voice and a guitar.

She played entirely original songs, her unique style drawing influence from folk, rock and jazz. Soft-spoken in person, her singing voice was strong and versatile. She rocked the louder sections with a country twang reminiscent of Allison Krauss, and then diminished her voice to a low murmur at other times.

"I would say Norah Jones and I are distant musical cousins,” Snipstead said.

Snipstead has played at PLU events such as LollaPLUza, events in the Cave and at KCCR. She has even played in the greater Tacoma area in open mics and coffee shops.

The content of her songs emphasized simplicity, folk values and the simple joys in life.

Snipstead portrayed herself with a humble, relaxed charisma. Dressed in jeans and a sweater, she addressed the audience as though she was talking to a friend.

Her sunny, personality shone through as she talked and joked with the audience between songs, giving a brief description of each piece.

One of my favorite songs was “Watchmen,” a sweet, melancholy song on compassion fatigue. Occasional, powerful outbursts broke up the otherwise light, lilting melody, which was harmonized by a simple guitar accompaniment involving subdued finger picking and spontaneous strumming. I was impressed by the versatility of her singing voice.

Snipstead introduced the song “Walk the World,” saying it was inspired when she walked through Red Square, something PLU students can relate to. Her performance lasted 20 minutes.

Next, the four members of Harlowe and the Great North Woods, dressed in jeans, Carharts and mismatched socks, took the stage.

Their performance rocked my world.

Chris Miller filled the hall with heady, resonating chords from the electric keyboard. Mark Robertson strummed his guitar intermittently along with inarticulate, mumbled vocals. Bob Reynolds set a slow, steady pace on percussion, while Andrew Campbell tore out soaring melodies on the violin and viola. The whole effect was surreal.

It was hard to tell where one song ended and another began, as they flowed smoothly in to one another and band members. Even while introducing a song, they punctuated their speech with music.

It was virtually impossible for me to analyze individual songs. Eventually, I simply sat back and let the waves of sound wash over me.

Sophomore Ignas Kazilas described their performance as a “journey through space and time.”

KCCR Promotions Director and senior Alex Smith, who met the band members at a concert in Portland, organized the event. Smith said she wanted to support local artists as well as get word out about the student radio station.

Harlowe and the Great North Woods formed in 2009, its members originating from throughout California and settling in Portland, Ore. They have toured the west coast three times in the past two years, playing in a variety of venues including Lagerquist Hall.

“This [Lagerquist] is definitely the newest, nicest venue we’ve performed in ... We’re really thankful for this opportunity,” Robertson said.

They released a self-titled EP and are currently working on their first full-length album. The album will be released in January 2012.

This concert was a great opportunity for students to expose themselves to new genres of music, and a chance for indie musicians to perform in a fancier setting.

I recommend that students, staff and faculty listen to Snipstead and Harlowe and the Great North Woods. It is a great opportunity to expose yourself to a unique style of music.