Even before the modest sports-bar-turned-concert-venue of the Stein was filled with the robust sounds of musical guests Bay Faction and LuxDeluxe, there were clusters of students smattered across the venue engaged in vibrant, excited chatter. While the first band, Bay Faction, set up its instruments and finalized its soundcheck, students welcomed both bands into a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere.
The Brandeis Association of Music and Concert Organizers (BAMCO) intended for the bands to play on the outside patio of the Stein. However, the rainy, cold weather on the night of Friday, April 21 forced both groups to perform inside the bar. Because of this, each strike of the drums and strum of electric guitar came close to nearly drowning out the singers of each band, as the booming sound reverberated off of the Stein’s walls.
Despite the volume, the issue did not seem to deter audiences from staying for both sets. A steady crowd of about 40 chowed down on mozzarella sticks and nachos while Bay Faction strapped up for its performance.
Bay Faction, a band hailing from Boston, churned out quite a few melancholy tunes, accompanied by witty lyrics. The band is comprised of a singer/guitarist, bassist and drummer, who all seemed to have a lot of chemistry with one another (aside from all three members dressing in different shades of black). Unfortunately, the magnitude of the drum’s sound, amplified by its reverberation off of the Stein’s walls, prevented the singer’s words from being received clearly.
Since this was the case, it was easier to pay attention to details that may not have stood out as much as the lyrics, like the inventive and complex compositions that the bassist and guitarist took on. Each of the instruments more or less carved out a certain attention to be paid to them, though the sounds of each coexisted with one another well.
Toward the end of Bay Faction’s set, the band played a series of “sad” songs, as described by the band’s singer James McDermott. In these songs, the crashing drums from tracks before mellowed out into subtle backbones of the songs, and McDermott’s crooning, sincere voice came out in “Are You in the Mood?” Bay Faction’s smooth lyrics finally surfaced in these quieter songs, and the emotion and focus with which McDermott serenaded his audience engulfed listeners.
After the band had finished its final song, a small intermission passed as the next performers, LuxDeluxe, constructed their set. Colorful lights sat at the foot of the foreground of the set-up, and once all of the components were arranged, the Stein lights dimmed, and LuxDeluxe began.
Not that the atmosphere was gloomy and sad when Bay Faction finished its set, but the music of LuxDeluxe was definitely more uplifting than its predecessor’s. Not long after they started playing, audience members were tapping along to the band’s feel-good tunes, while the musicians themselves shared smiles and laughter with one another. LuxDeluxe’s music is beachy and playful, a sound that is refreshing to hear.
While the band continued to face problems with the overwhelming sound of its instruments in the modest concert space, LuxDeluxe carried on with a lighthearted attitude. After completing a couple of songs, the band members asked the audience for song requests and played several covers of songs from groups like the Talking Heads, the Pixies, Modest Mouse, the Beach Boys and others before returning to their own material. Some of the covers were genuinely well executed for off-the-cuff performances, while others were self-consciously poor and won laughs from students.
After playing a few more songs from its collection, LuxDeluxe finished off the night with some more crowd interaction. They, again, invited students to participate in the music, except this time they asked if anyone wanted to play an instrument and improvise with the band. Several students stepped forward to team up with the band and show off their skills, which both LuxDeluxe and students seemed to enjoy immensely. Despite the trouble with sound from the impromptu venue shift, both bands pushed through to impress and entertain the Stein’s evening crowd.