The Rosebuds bring gritty folk sound to campus

Cameron Carrus

The Lawrence Band Booking Committee presented North Carolina-based band The Rosebuds on Sunday, Oct. 16 in the Esch-Hurvis Studio. The band is currently on the final leg of their summer tour promoting their new CD, “Loud Planes Fly Low.”

Opening for The Rosebuds was a group of Lawrence students, led by Trevor Litsey on guitar. Accompanying him were Abby Guthmann on vocals and Tom Pilcher on drums. The band performed original material of Litsey’s, providing a very intimate setting for the audience with their mellow folk sound. The crowd fell to a whisper as Litsey and Guthmann blended vocal harmonies beautifully over Litsey’s sparse guitar parts. Litsey’s country roots were showcased in tunes like “I Was Born in the City.” They ended their short, sweet 30-minute set with an energetic cover of the Beatles’ “All My Lovin’.”

When The Rosebuds took the stage, they opened with a tight drum and bass driven groove, layered with guitar and violin and coupled with a smooth keyboard sound. Looking at their setup, one would have thought they were in for another folk set like the one preceding it. Although the band did have some folk elements, their sound was full and grittier than your average folk music. The band had a very laid back feel, and between the layering of the chordal instruments and the driving rhythm section the vibe became trance-like at times.

Most of the songs that The Rosebuds performed were from their new album. It may be for this reason that some of the endings to their songs were ambiguous, but it was apparent that all of their old tunes were engrained in their heads, as those were really tight and abrupt.

Lead singer and guitarist Ivan Howard led the band with his rich, medium-range voice, reminding one of Thom Yorke at times. Howard’s vocals were supported by keyboardist Kelly Crisp’s and violinist Daniel Hart’s vocal harmonies. As the lead man of the band, Howard proved to be very humble and appreciative of the crowd’s support.

My favorite aspect of The Rosebuds’ show was the great range of textures that they pursued within every song. They are capable of producing that “wall of sound” typical of bands like Explosions in the Sky, but they used that effect very sparingly.

Sometimes, drummer Logan Matheny would be the only one playing behind Howard’s vocals, and the band would slowly layer in to build the momentum of the song. Hart used reverb during climactic sections to fill out the texture, but the simple fact that he had an electric violin added a guitar-like essence to his lines. Crisp used a range of sounds on her keyboard, ranging from a cutting synth to a smooth Wurlitzer. Bassist Jeremy Boettcher would tastefully fill in the lower registers, thickening the low-end harmonies.

The Rosebuds paid homage to their North Carolina home, playing a song named after the local Cape Fear River. On this upbeat and energetic tune, the band showed off their multi-instrumental capabilities. Crisp played tambourine, while Hart played the guitar. Adding to the energy of the piece were the vocal unisons, which effectively cut through the mix. The vocal line on this song, as with a lot of other songs, is the catchiest part of the song.

The band drew a diverse audience; there were a couple of older folks in the crowd, bobbing their heads along with other students in the back, while the feistier ones danced up front. The crowd was enthralled by the performance from the start, and the band kept the audience’s interest throughout. Howard even encouraged people to sing a hook on one of the songs.

The Rosebuds closed their set with “Woods,” a cut from their new album. It included a drum solo from Matheny, in addition to an a cappella section, which was accompanied by some supportive clapping from the crowd.

Crisp was pleased with the performance. She said the band “had a great turnout. It was really fun playing for everyone, and we’d love to come back and do it again sometime.”

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