This past Wednesday night you would have seen University Avenue’s sidewalk filling up with people young and old—musicians, friends, fans and the people who just love to hear what talent might be emerging from inside the local favorite music venue, Velour.
The anticipation for a show at Velour is always great as you wait in line during the twilight hour as the twinkling lights of the city come out, creating that mood for an evening of good music, as you see the performers who are set to play casually sneak their way in like they aren’t even on time for their own show.
The venue filled up fast becoming a lively and loud place, but as Sarah Anne DeGraw, who opened the show, began to play her guitar everyone was quieted down by her clear and hauntingly beautiful voice. With a touch of jazz, mystery, and raw acoustic in her style, it was easy to become slightly mesmerized especially during her song “Press.” DeGraw has a reserved but cool persona about her which comes out in her music, and it was a perfect way to pull you into the music for the night.
Next up we had Attic Wolf, coming all the way from Kansas City. They were a group of guys who were all sporting beards, thick-rimmed glasses, and plaid. I kind of chuckled to myself as I wondered if it was “their thing” or just ironic.
They kicked off with a lively floor-stomping-everyone-clapping song with the banjo pumping up the place with those speedy strumming melodies and a hootin’ and a hollerin’ making it feel like we had just found ourselves at a southern family BBQ.
They started their next song off by shouting out, “Let’s Get Rowdy!” and I’m sure you can imagine the rest with a band full of instruments such as the trumpet, accordion, mandolin, and the banjo, along with a bunch of happy, lively guys with beards. As they finished up, they made sure to top of their “hometown” folk music number with a big bow together as they strummed their last strum.
And just when you didn’t think any more people could fit inside Velour, it somehow managed to happen as Westward the Tide came onstage. With a band of guy and girls, it made for a dynamic sound. Their music has that building effect where the music gets louder and richer as it progresses, which always makes for a moving experience especially when it’s in an intimate setting.
When I think of a word that could describe them, the word that simply comes to mind is the “woods” or the “mountains.” I want to get in touch with that side of me that loves the mountains and building campfires with my closest friends and going on hikes, going on road trips, or just going somewhere. It seems like some unspoken rule that if music makes you long for those things, it must be Indie Folk music.
After playing some of their originals, they performed a cover of “Royals” by Lorde bringing in a tambourine and some skilled drumming from percussionist Cam Brannelly. Westward the Tide had a great sound with a violinist to make them stand out and a vibe that made you feel good.
Lastly, The National Parks, previously known as “Brady Parks and the IndiAnns” have now formed a new band. With a lot of folk influence, they had some lively beats along with some beautiful, mellow pieces, and a cover of “Sleepy Head” by Passion Pit.
At the closing of the night The National Parks and Westward the Tide all joined together onstage for a final performance. There was definitely a sense of unity and friendship onstage as well as in the crowd that night.
All in all, it was a night full of good folk rock. And as for me, as always when I leave Velour, I just feel good and inspired by all the talent that is abundant in the valley. And I usually leave with a list of new artists to add to my iTunes.