As Spring Term began, excitement for CHON’s concert increased. The band, which has gained quite a following with both Lawrence students and Appleton residents, played their first show on a college campus after being brought in by the Band Booking Committee (BBC). Even more amazingly, the BBC was able to make it a free show open to anyone, not just students.
The event, which took place in the Esch-Hurvis Room in the Warch Campus Center, kicked off what will be a great term for Lawrence concerts.
Student band Luis & Whose Army opened and helped get the crowd ready to enjoy the first weekend of the term. The band describes themselves as an “experimental alt-rock funk jam band,” and they definitely showcased all these genres in their show.
The band consists of sophomore Alex Kurki on bass and vocals, sophomore Miles Allen on drums, sophomore Luis Gonzalez on guitar, and senior Greyson Sztuczko on guitar and vocals. While the band maintained a tight and well-rehearsed sound, their music also contained elements more prevalent in punk and sludge metal—such as a dense, dark tone and a general loudness.
The band had a unique sound most akin to older punk and metal, but effectively fused it with a funkier jam band sound that was even upbeat at points. The contrasting vocals of Kurki—abrasive and often yelled—and Sztuczko—lyrical and sometimes lilting—also made for an engaging performance. Luis & Whose Army have a lot of talent and put on a great live show with lots of variety, but an overarching cohesive sound.
As they ended their set, it was easy to tell the crowd had enjoyed Luis & Whose Army immensely, but was ready to hear the main act—CHON. After a quick sound check and a few light jokes, they started their set. The first thing that struck me was the band’s comfort and looseness on stage. Despite their music requiring a lot of focus and high levels of technicality, they were able to play seemingly effortlessly.
They had a very light and clean sound, especially compared to Luis & Whose Army. The three guitars played similar melodies and rhythmic phrases that interlocked almost perfectly, creating a neat and aesthetically pleasing sound. The drums established a complex groove that contrasted with the feel of the guitars, creating a polyrhythmic sound. Math rock is heavily based on rhythmic complexities, and CHON’s music was no exception.
It was awe-inspiring to see this genre of music live, as much of its allure is built on wowing the audience with the talent and musicality of the performers. With this band, there are no live tricks, editing or gimmicks. What the audience sees and hears is the product of intense rehearsing, composing and listening to each other. While I had listened to a little math rock prior to the show, CHON was the first band of the genre I saw live, and I am even more excited to dive deep into this intriguing genre.
Both bands did incredible jobs and put on fun shows. There will be plenty more guest artists of all sorts this term, so if you missed this concert or want to see more, keep your eyes peeled.