In a gallery space located through a narrow alley in downtown Fredrick, artists and musicians gathered for a multidisciplinary exhibition. The event, titled “She/They”, featured works by female, non-binary and queer identifying artists. All of the event’s proceeds were donated to Heartly House, a Frederick based organization that provides help to survivors of abuse and assault.
After the gallery viewing and spoken word poetry that lasted two hours, there were musical performances. Albany-based band Lone Phone Booth set the mood of the night with their easy, laidback sound. Upon playing a song called “Wednesday,” lead singer Grace reflected on their dual role as a college student, commenting “I wrote this song about being in my dorm room on a Wednesday.”
The trio’s sound was reminiscent of Baltimore indie band, Snail Mail. What began as an average set surprised the audience when the bassist of the three-piece band Judybelle pulled out a trombone and played a melodic solo alongside the drums and guitar. This interesting twist marked the high-point of the group’s performance. Remarkably, this was the band’s first show with all three members.
After a brief intermission, Brooklyn-based band, The Great Wight, took control of the crowd. The band’s frontman Erik Garlington radiated charisma from the moment he took the mic. Between songs, he spoke easily to the audience about his experience growing up in a military family, traveling around the world and living as a queer black man in the Midwest.
At one point, he opened a can of beer then chugged it in mere seconds before smashing it to the ground. “I shouldn’t have chugged that beer, I can’t breathe now!” he laughed, towards the end of the group’s set.The group’s sound was comparable to the folk punk band The Front Bottoms (though arguably their lyricism and musicianship was better) and contained elements of mid-2000s pop punk.
Midway through the first song, drummer Elijah Watson broke his kick pedal and had to have it replaced. Besides this minor setback, his drumming abilities shone through the rest of the band’s set. In live shows, drum solos tend to be endless and overly flamboyant. However, Watson’s rhythmic solo was just long enough to wow the crowd and impeccably precise.
The Great Wight dedicated their final song, “Not Black Enough,” to the few black audience members, calling attention to the frequent lack of diversity in music spaces.
The final performance of the night was given by twin jude, a solo act. They sat cross-legged in the front of the darkened room, playing a keyboard with lit candles flickering above the keys. twin jude was a nice closing act because of their ambient trip-hop sound, much like an FKA Twigs, Abra or Grimes.
It takes skill for an artist’s music to shift the mood of the audience while fitting with the overall atmosphere of the venue. Surrounded by walls hung with colorful artwork and with the crowd close enough to touch, twin jude delivered arguably the best vibes all night.
If interested in the bands mentioned above, The Great Wight and twin jude both have albums available on bandcamp.com. Meanwhile, the music of Lone Phone Booth can be found on SoundCloud.