Published Mon, Sep 3, 2012 1:54 am Dateline
Oberlin, Ohio's Bobby Stevens took to Casa Cantina’s stage a little after 10 p.m. Friday night for a show presented by Ohio University’s All Campus Radio Network (ACRN).
Stevens, surrounded by amps and instrument cases, was a one-man band, unlike the evening's other two acts: Pop-rockers Scubadog, with its classic four-piece lineup; and The Ridges, a band that does its thing Arcade Fire-style, (aka one bazillion people and one bazillion instruments).
Stevens is a singer-songwriter, which is a term that can be misleading. To me, there are three archetypes that most guitar-strumming, poetry-penning musicians fall under: Bob Dylan-type, Leonard Cohen-type and Bruce Springsteen-type. Stevens most definitely falls into the Boss’ category--and he's not ashamed to show it.
Stevens bashed out a series of anthems, and even with the largely unresponsive, highly chatty crowd, his tunes resonated in the room. If you happened to be one of the few clued into Stevens’ performance, every song felt intimate.
The crowd livened up when Scubadog's bassist (and Southeast Engine member) Jesse Remnant warmed up with the bass riff from Guided By Voices' "A Salty Salute" while the rest of the band set up.
The band that fans lovingly refer to as "Scuba" has been performing in various incarnations for a while. All of the members previously (or currently, in Jesse Remnant’s case) spent time in the bands Kaslo or Southeast Engine.
Scubadog has a slappy, poppy sound that sounds a little like The Rubinoos blended with Superchunk. It was clear that the band was aware of the amount of love this town has for them, and the fact that some audience members were there solely for the purpose of intense dancing.
After Scubadog, orchestral rockers The Ridges began setting up, and what a set up it was.
Considering the number of instruments the band has to handle, the fact that they finally got down to business around 1 a.m. was pretty admirable.
The group, which is based around founding members Victor Rasgaitis and Talor Smith, has a solid sound, living up to their road-tested reputation (they are scheduled to perform at Cincinnati's MidPoint Music Festival this month, alongside acts such as Andrew Bird and Grizzly Bear).
The band spent the winter of 2010 cooped up at our town's legendary Ridges, formerly the Athens Lunatic Asylum, to record their self-titled five-song EP, which is adorned with creepy cello and whispery vocals.
Live, The Ridges puts its size and instrumentation to good use, creating a large, dense sound and occasionally adding interesting textures, such as during "The Insomniac’s Song," when stringed instruments were used to create kooky sound effects.
Rumors circulated throughout the crowd that the band would tackle Sufjan Stevens’ "Chicago" somewhere in their set; rumors that were proven true when the band encored with the song.
If the Casa crowd wasn’t satisfied with Scubadog's punchy pop-rock, they certainly were after The Ridges charged through an epic set of folk-rock.