I’ve been a big concert attendee since I was a kid when my parents began taking me to shows ranging from orchestra performances to rock concerts. However, I have not been to many smaller shows especially since being in Kalamazoo. Since joining the street team at WIDR and learning more about the music scene in Kalamazoo, I have been inspired to attend some smaller shows which, luckily for us college students, are much less expensive than stadium tours. My venture into the local Kalamazoo music scene began this Saturday night when I went to my first house show. If I’m honest, I was a bit sketched out to go to this as being in a stranger’s basement seemed a little unsafe to me. Luckily my friend wanted to go as well, and it ended up being one of the most chill (and perfectly safe!) experiences I’ve had in a while.
There were multiple house shows going on this Saturday night, so the show ended up having about 25 people there at the peak which as I’ve been told is less than normal. I had never heard of any of the groups that performed but it was a very fun experience none the less. If anyone is like me who gets very annoyed at pop music focusing only on love and relationships, this is the type of event for you. I loved hearing music that covered topics such as hair, traveling, and existentialism expressed through sipping tea. Unfortunately, I was unable to see all the groups perform as I am a grandma and was falling asleep standing up by 10:30 but here are my thoughts on the four people I did get to see perform.
Justin Schoenfelder was the first person to perform and rolled out with a ukulele which made me very excited from the get-go. He played with a lot more energy than I was expecting from a ukulele and it was awesome. If I had to say one musician that Justin reminded me of, it would probably be Tom Rosenthal. He sang about things that we experience in everyday life like rivers and bears but in a very humorous way.
Hopie Jo (1st Photo)
I personally am not a big fan of country music which was the prevailing genre in Hopie Jo’s music but due to how much personality she had in her performance I really enjoyed it. She sang about everyday topics like growing out your hair and going to the laundromat but was really funny about it. Above all Hopie really is an incredible musician. Her vocal range was astounding and made it very exciting for the audience. She also used a machine to record and layer her own playing in front of us to be a background track for her on stage. As a huge music geek, it made me very happy to see her utilize this cool tech onstage.
Palou (2nd Photo)
As a human frequently filled with existential dread, Palou’s music really spoke to me. The lyrics of her music focused on complicated issues like finding meaning in life. You would think that this would make the music sad but because she played upbeat, mellow ukulele backgrounds with these deeper lyrics, she maintained an optimistic sound. Palou was definitely the most chill performer I saw that night and I really liked her happy sounding but secretly depressing music.
Danny Cozzi was a member of a band who was touring from Chicago. He sang and played the acoustic guitar without a microphone which was incredible. He was just belting the vocals and was able to convey a surprising amount of emotion without the help of a microphone. When describing the style of the group’s music, Danny made a reference to the Goo Goo Dolls which felt accurate. He also reminded me a bit of The
Wonder Years due to the acoustic guitar, emotive vocals, and singing about getting drunk on a train for one of the songs. He also encouraged some audience participation which was a lot of fun in such an intimate setting.
I can’t recommend going to house shows and local concerts enough if you’re looking to enjoy some live music. Concerts are great not just for listening to music but for connecting with people which is especially easy in the intimate house shows. Also check out all of the artists from this blog, they’re incredible and deserve our support.