Potter and the Nocturnals Grace the Fine Arts Center

By Acacia DiCiaccio

As a part of UMass’ annual First Week events, We The Kings and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals played an intimate show put on strictly for students. While one band’s desperate attempts at getting laid overpowered the power pop music they played, the other band wowed crowds of both dedicated fans and never-before listeners.

To everyone’s surprise, the headliners We the Kings opened the show. Their performance featured a lot of audience interaction; with gimmicks such as shining a flashlight on the crowd from the stage, encouraging use of a “W” sign made with two hands, and throwing all instrument accessories at their fans. They accomplished getting the crowd on their feet with their upbeat, bubblegum sound, but those who were there for the music were left unmoved.

We the Kings asked for a lot of audience sing-a-longs and many accredited the highlight of the performance to their cover of Jimmy Eat World’s “The Middle.”

The lead singer, donning a distracting head of voluminous red hair, paused during his acoustic set before performing the song “All Again for You” to inform the audience that the track was based on a true story – a story that involved him knocking on the window of the hottest girl in high school and whisking her away to hook up on the beach. Though hardly a believable story, a lot of girls seemed to be eating up his multiple compliments about how sexy everyone in the crowd was and comments about how many attractive girls he saw on campus that day.

We the Kings got to the point of sounding desperate when they randomly reported that it was the first time they had been to UMass, and the first time they were all single. The music that the band played only seemed to be a catalyst to getting laid that night.

The small venue only became more intimate when many left the show after the first set. The local, Vermont-based band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, played to a group of no more than 200 people. The band even made a stab at We the Kings when they asked the emcee to inform the audience that they were all STD free, apparently picking up on the previous band’s pathetic attempts.

The difference between these two bands was phenomenal. From the moment the first note was struck, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals showed immense talent, and it was obvious that their focus was on sharing their talents and having fun. Potter herself seemed to be having a blast on stage, and it radiated through the music. Each song sounded immensely different. The opener, “Only Love,” a bluesy track, immediately displayed Potters’ aptitude and her sex appeal.

The band members stood out as well; the bassist was also a sexy female, and the drummer and guitarists seemed to be as enthusiastic about the music as the crowd was. Each member displayed their own musical talent throughout the performance.

Songs such as “Oasis” and “Tiny Light” turned into long jams that seemed to have everyone in an awed trance. The audience needed no cues to interact; clap-a-longs and a dance party in front of the stage ensued out of pure enthusiasm for the music. Potter even admitted to applying to UMass and not getting in, but all assumed it was for the best because otherwise the band would not exist.

The most moving point of the band’s performance was when Potter stood solo on stage and performed a gospel-inspired piece about baptism entitled “Nothing But the Water Part 1”, with merely her strong voice ringing throughout the venue. The silence found in the pauses between vocals resounded more than any other sound in the entire show. Not an echo of a note or a cough was heard; it was almost eerie how silent the auditorium could become when the crowd was so moved.

During the last song before the encore, each band member abandoned their instrument to drum on a designated piece of the drum set to create an extremely powerful drum solo.
Even those who had never heard of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals before this night were blown away by both the talent and creative entertainment factor that the band had to offer. No gimmicks were found during this performance, and also, no STDs.

Acacia DiCiaccio can be reached at [email protected] Photos by Hannah Cohen.