Out and About: Grace Potter and the Nocturnals
    • TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2012

    • Posted by: Don Saas

    After a semester of interning in New York City, getting to see great shows a couple times a week in Brooklyn and Manhattan, you'd think that moving back home to the backwoods of West Virginia to finish college would be a drag. You'd be right. Without having been to any concerts since Bonnaroo, my concert drought finally ended with West Virginia University's "Fall Fest" celebrations. With a line up of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Wale, the Wanted, and Kaskade, it could have been a lot worse by Morgantown standards, and with WVU recently named the #1 party school in the nation by the Princeton review, WVU more than lived up to its hedonistic reputation.

    Grace Potter & the Nocturnals came on first at 7PM and were without question the most entertaining act of the evening. Grace Potter is an old fashioned belter in the vein of Stevie Nicks or Bonnie Tyler, with a backing band that helps channel the energy of 70s women's rock ala Linda Ronstadt or Bonnie Raitt. Opening with the title track off her new album, The Lion the Beast the Beat, Grace Potter and her crew put on a jam-fueled show that showcased the band's library of great singles. Though Grace Potter herself spent most of the show prancing around the stage like Joan Jett (and making love to the audience with her eyes), she occasionally strapped on a Flying V guitar and rocked as hard as her male backing band counterparts. With tracks like "Paris (Ooh La La)" and "Turntable," Grace Potter got the crowd excited and full of energy although sadly most of the people in the crowd were there to get a good spot for Wale and weren't actually familiar with her music.

    Wale came on later in the evening and between the excitement generated during his show as well as the Wanted, it was a Festivus miracle that my body -- which was in the front row for the concerts -- wasn't black and blue by the evening's end. Although Wale doesn't quite have the mic skills of contemporaries like Kendrick Lamar or A$AP Rocky -- or the production finesse of Childish Gambino -- he's a master of crowd control. During "Pretty Girls," -- which has to be one of the most hilariously offensive songs of the last couple years -- I suffered legitimate fears of being trampled to death. He has the world's tiniest back up singer on stage with him. Wale isn't the biggest guy on the planet on his own, but you almost expected him to walk over to the guy laying down the backing vocals and stuff him in his pocket. However, even if Wale himself didn't give an amazing show, his backing band was impressive and it's always great when hip-hop artists utilize actual musicians on stage and not just a lap top, which is sadly the case 95% of the time.

    I originally had no intention of staying for the Wanted show because, let's face it, if you read Baeble, you probably aren't in their target demographic. However, the sea of students jamming my sternum into the guardrail -- and uncomfortable parts of other people's anatomy into my back -- kept me from leaving so I got to see a British boy band in action. Hoo boy. Did you ever see the episode of South Park where Kenny takes his girlfriend to the Jonas brothers concert and all of the girls are going ape-shit? That's what happened last night. It was like the Beatles were playing the Ed Sullivan show. I lost more hearing that night from the girl next to me screaming in my ear the entire concert than the fact that I was front row for three straight shows. I would lie if I said I knew the names of any of the Wanted's songs besides "Glad You Came" which was the closing number. It wasn't really my field of music so I can't judge how good or bad they were, although I must admit I really enjoyed their version of "Iris" by the Goo Goo Dolls which they covered along with a bunch of Coldplay songs. But the audience was going crazy. Underwear was thrown on the stage. I kid you not. A girl next to me was screaming to the members of the Wanted that she would perform sexual favors for them after the show. It was all a little too much for me to take in.

    If any of you Baeble readers are considering WVU as your college of choice, we definitely know how to party, but the coolest acts to come here in the entire time I've been at WVU -- which is six years -- are Regina Spektor and the Hold Steady. So, don't let music be your deciding factor. All in all, it was a fun Fall Fest. I left before Kaskade came on because I had pinches all over my arms from getting crushed by a sea of people and I was tired of getting kicked in the back of the head by people trying to crowd surf to the stage. If you get the chance to see Grace Potter live though, I highly recommend you take it. Along with Feist and Annie Clark, she's here to remind the world just how hard the girls out there can rock.

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