Review and Photos by special guest correspondent Jon Kopecky
You can probably imagine the sheer excitement I experienced when I found out I was going to be bringing one of my favorite new bands – Conveyor – through my hometown for a night of live music at a show I got to put on. To say I was excited for this show would be a complete understatement – how else do you describe the feeling of witnessing the sonic magic of a favorite new band live? As well as in my hometown accompanied by some of my favorite local rock bands in House of Bread and Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. The result was an enthralling night of live music – featuring everything from acoustic ballads to psychedelic liquid light shows to eclectic indie pop-rock jams and everything imaginable in between. Hands-down, one of the best concerts I’ve ever been a part of recently in Fort Wayne.
Kicking off this night of incredible live music in Fort Wayne was the Boston folk-pop duo Gracious Calamity. Comprised of members Kate Lee and Kit Wallach, these two singer-songwriters brought their eclectic and acoustic sounds to Fort Wayne with the help of their friend and touring partner Josh Dean. Although I will admit I was previously unaware of this band beyond a few tunes before the show, I was thoroughly-intrigued by their unique take on simplistic pop and folk music. Utilizing a minimal amount of instruments (literally an electric guitar, electric bass and acoustic ukelele), Gracious Calamity were able to capture the attention of those in attendance that night with their beautiful harmonies and fun twists on their music. Kicking off a concert is no easy task, but the trio managed to enlighten the ears of everyone in attendance as more and more people filled into the bar as their set progressed.
While their more mellow sound was quite the opposite of some of the following acts that night – including the pyschedelic rock of Heaven’s Gateway Drugs and upbeat indie rock of Conveyor – the calmer nature of the music provided the perfect kick-off to a night of rock and roll music of every sort. As demonstrated in the video above of the duo+1 performing “Heart of Iron,” Gracious Calamity manage to balance their stunning harmonies with a minimal instrumental sound with a delicate precision. Even though they might seem serious during their performance, the youthful element of joy and freedom resonates throughout their music directly-stemming from their upbeat and positive outlooks on life.
As much as I enjoyed their stunning music throughout their performance, it wasn’t until hanging out with them throughout the rest of the evening that I realized just how down to earth and fun this band truly was. I’ve always enjoyed getting to meet the bands following their shows in town, and it was no different for these young musicians as well. Honest and true to their sound, Gracious Calamity enjoyed the thrill of performing for a solid audience and being a part of such a diverse and enthralling night of live music. While a lot of bands will perform and then leave to do other things for the night, all three members seemed to enjoy being a witness to the rest of the bands just as much as me – a true measure of their passion for music whether it be performing on stage or sitting back in the crowd and taking it in as a fan. For being their first time performing in Indiana, they definitely made a lasting impression on many concert-goers that evening with their unique sound and desire to play for the fans. A class act that loves to drink PBR and have a good time – what more can you ask for in a young, up-and-coming band of hard-working individuals.
Following a terrific start to the night of music, local indie-rock band House of Bread took the stage and came out swinging with a set full of both new tunes from their upcoming album as well as older tunes from previous releases. Even though I have been lucky enough to catch a few shows from House of Bread over the past year or so, they seemed to bring an entirely-new energy and sense of musical identity to their show at The Brass Rail that night. On the verge of releasing their first full-length album in a few years, House of Bread managed to incorporate enough new tracks to keep the fans teething for more, but still brought out some of their more-established hits to keep people singing and dancing along throughout their set. The result was a set packed with non-stop indie rock sounds that are truly unique to the House of Bread project.
For as much as their songs vary in musical styling and composition, there is an underlying nature of their music that makes it uniquely theirs. The varied use of computer-based electronics adds an additional layer of intricately-composed sound on a variety of tracks, helping to further-blend their unique music between the indie-rock and pop landscapes. Pulling out all of the stops, House of Bread managed to keep fans moving around all night with their upbeat sound and non-stop rock vibes. Performing everything from older tunes such as “Artificial Man” off their Superhuman Tomb album to their newest single “There Are Rooms We’ve Never Shown You” , the four-man local rockers House of Bread were able to showcase their vast range of musical talents throughout their set. The cross-over appeal of their sound has never been more prevelant than during this concert – reeling in fans one-by-one with their expansive vault of sounds that draws inspiration from a variety of musical styles and influences. Whether you were in the mood for a heavy rock tune powered by dueling, fuzzed out guitars or an upbeat synth-infused pop jam, concert-goers were able to satisfy all of their musical desires throughout the stellar set by House of Bread. Check out two live videos I managed to film that night of both “Artificial Man” and their captivating tune “ Lampshade Dreams”
After an incredible set by House of Bread, the stage set-up was broken down and revamped as local pysch-rock upstart Heaven’s Gateway Drug prepared to take over The Brass Rail for a rush of visual and aural stimulation. While this relatively-new band has only been performing locally for a few months now, they have quickly managed to capture a strong following of fans with their unique style of music that elicits every sonic idea imaginable. Led by C. Ray Harvey and Derek Mauger, two local musicians who have been a part of some of my favorite local rock bands of the past 5 years or so, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs is nothing short of a enthralling show of live music. Using their somewhat mystical and ambiguous band-history as a catalyst for moving their music forward, the guys have managed to find a niche sound that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. The most-just classification of their sound would be psych-rock, yet Heaven’s Gateway Drugs seem to incorporate a plethora of musical styles in their music which helps to create a dynamic sound that shapes and shifts from song to song.
Avoiding being just another band in the local music scene, the quartet of rockers have recently enlisted the help of local Bob Wagner to incorporate a “liquid light show” into their live concert performance. While there is no doubt a slight bit of novelty attached to this move there is also no denying the amazing effect a little bit of psychedelic colors can have on your visual senses – providing the perfect accompaniment to the aural trip expelled from the amps and speakers of Heaven’s Gateway Drugs. The non-stop rush of sound created by the newly-formed rock group is unlike anything I have ever heard coming out of Fort Wayne, nevertheless anywhere else. Heaven’s Gateway Drugs have not only managed to explore the depths of music on a never-ending quest for sonic identity, but have been able to craft stunning tunes all along the way. Ask anyone who witnessed their show that night and they would agree that amidst all of the psychedelic sights and sounds – Heaven’s Gateway Drugs have created something special in their fresh, unique take on pysch-rock music.
Ending their set in the only way they know how, Heaven’s Gateway Drugs managed to both tear-down their set while also performing their final song for the night. The raucous ending not only solidified their stance on rock music, but also provided the perfect opportunity for concert-goers to take an extended break to refresh their drinks and burn through a few cigarettes before the debut performance from the night’s headliners Conveyor. I’m sure the chaotic ending to the Heaven’s Gateway Drugs set might have confused some people as to whether or not the show was over, but those who decided to stay out the extra hour were rewarded with one of the most uplifting and enjoyable concerts I have ever experienced in Fort Wayne. Since this was my first time witnessing the sonic magic of Conveyor in a live setting, I really was unsure exactly what to expect. I’ve been fortunate enough to have an advanced copy of their brand new full-length for awhile now thanks to the good folks at Paper Garden Records, so I was at least somewhat-prepared for some of the incredible sounds I was about to hear.
Following the extended break to set-up their expansive stage of amps, guitars, samplers and more, the Brooklyn quartet of friends took the stage and produced one of the most enthralling and captivating concerts that has gone down recently at The Brass Rail. After being so familiar with their new album as well as their previous releases on their Sun Ray EP, I was beyond anxious to hear the incredibly unique and intriguing pop-rock sounds of Conveyor translated in a live setting. While I definitely had no doubts about their talent as musicians, there is always that extra skill needed as a band to truly bring the music to life in a live concert setting – and trust me Conveyor knows how to do that perfectly. Kicking the their set off with one of my favorite tracks and their debut single from 2011 – “Mukraker” – the guys quickly-captured the attention of those in attendance by showcasing their perfected craft of creating uniquely-beautiful songs that are full of musical elements from every genre imaginable. “Mukraker” serves as one of the best examples of the sensational harmonies the four-piece band can construct with absolute perfection in the execution. Definitely not a traditional skill for an indie rock band, yet it serves as an example of one of the many distinct sonic elements to their genre-defying sound.
As the show continued to roll and pick up energy, Conveyor broke into a set full of both new tunes from their just-released self-titled Conveyor album as well as some killer jams from their previous Sun Ray EP release. With every song, the band seemed to fall further into their rhythmic groove. Their ability to expel such vast amounts of energy and emotion from the collective use of four musicians and instruments is absolutely stellar in every way. No matter if the song was one of their more upbeat jams such as “Woolgatherer” , or a more down-tempo ballad such as “Mane”, you can easily realize how their uncompromising production of sound is at the highest level at all times. For a band who had recently over-taken the majority of my music listening habits the past month or so, the anticipation to witness the live reconstruction of some of my favorite songs as of late was at an all-time high. And without a disappoint to either myself nor the other concert-goers. who also spent the majority of the late-night set dancing as well, Conveyor put together an incredibly uplifting and enthralling set of music. For a band who had probably never heard of Fort Wayne before leaving on tour from Brooklyn they managed to bring together an entire audience to embrace their music and enjoy it just as much as they seemed to be while performing for the crowd.
Without any doubt, Conveyor left quite the impression on Fort Wayne and from the sound of it quite a few other cities along their current US tour. Not only does this four-man band craft brilliant songs embellishing a variety of musical genres, but they also manage to recreate that same addicting sound with an even greater level of energy in a live setting. A good band can create a good album of music, but a great band can translate and recreate that same sound in a live setting with even more excitement and energy. By that judgement alone Conveyor has the makings of something great. And with the universally-positive reception they have been garnering around the music world, it seems like the rest of the the US is quickly catching on as well. Do yourself a favor and catch these guys live if they are near your city, and even if you can’t make it to a show you need to pick up their debut full-length album ASAP from Paper Garden Records. Not only is the album a refreshing take on indie pop and rock sounds, but it also happens to be pressed on clear vinyl and comes in one of the most stunning and captivating collections of art I’ve ever seen on an album. Purchase this incredible vinyl record and be sure to catch Conveyor on tour when you can.