Eisley makes friends at show in Easthampton

By DailyCollegian.com Staff

Ellie Rulon-Miller/Collegian

Indie band Eisley graced the Flywheel Arts Collective in Easthampton with its presence last Friday, March 16.

The Flywheel is a non-profit built inside of the old Easthampton town hall. In the makeshift lobby, a couple of young men with wild hair and a wardrobe from either Goodwill or Urban Outfitters greet concertgoers with a smile and a hand stamp. Things are pretty informal here, as the concert area appears to double as a playroom, with children’s toys pushed up against the wall and a changing table in the bathroom, though the type of people who come to hear the music are neither aged parents nor screaming babies, but rather are a very distinct crowd of youngsters who can only pointedly be described as “hipsters.”

The Flywheel is pretty barebones—neither food nor beverages are served and concert attendees are only there for the music or the socializing. But to have one’s little-known favorite band from high school come to Western Massachusetts for a gig at a venue which only attracted about 30 people, makes the Flywheel a hidden gem.

The show opened at 8 p.m. with the youngest of Eisley’s DuPree siblings, Christie and Colin, aged 21 and 17 respectively, playing their own set. Their band Merriment possessed a similar sound to Eisley, but with a more stripped down atmosphere. Christie’s sweet smile and blazing red hair gave her the spotlight. She illustrated her comfort with performing when she and Colin messed up, which elicited a few cracked jokes from the siblings. It felt as if the audience was simply a bunch of her close friends, rather than strangers. Halfway through the set, another band joined Merriment to add some drums and bass.

Tallhart, the follow-up group, then brought the rest of its members on stage and brought some rock to an otherwise softer night. Enthralled audience members moved their bodies to the loud guitar and crashing drums. Although Tallhart definitely had a different flavor than the other bands that sandwiched their performance, Eisley repeatedly cited Tallhart as their best friends. They proved to perform better live than on record.

As Eisley took the stage, the handful of concertgoers cheered as loud as they could. The set started with “Smarter,” a track from their most recent full-length album, “The Valley.” The band played a few more songs in succession before connecting with the audience, making it clear the music was the most important issue on their minds.

Lead singer Sherri DuPree collected most of the attention with her pink locks and whimsical hamburger shirt. Her charm and ease at looking absolutely fabulous in jeans and a t-shirt recall a similar presence to Paramore lead vocalist Hayley Williams.

Stacey DuPree, in charge of back-up vocals and keyboards, stood center stage, but her demeanor drew less attention, while her vocals were on par with her sister.

Chauntelle DuPree rocked the guitar while the boys took to the bass and drums. The DuPree family illustrated their musical affinities — each with great musical talent and soft features and naturally blonde hair. Eisley is exactly the sort of band one could resent if their music was not so saccharine.

Most of the tracks Eisley performed came from their latest releases. When the acoustic love song “192 Days” began, the audience gushed and sang along. Halfway through the song, on cue, the listeners added the claps to the track that exist on the recorded version, which brought out smiles on the band’s faces.

While the show felt empty with only a small number of attendees, the heavy focus on music without theatrics and fame was a refreshing and welcomed departure from overdramatic, played-out live shows. Eisley even announced they would not bother doing a “fake out” of leaving the stage only to return with an already-scheduled encore, and all three bands spoke to the audience in more of a conversational manner than is typical at indie shows.

The Flywheel Arts Collective is an experience that should not be overlooked by those in the Five College area, and Eisley and their opening acts proved to be as talented in a live setting as on their albums.

Acacia DiCiaccio can be reached at [email protected]