Rock n’ Roll BBQ pleases small crowd
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 10:09
Only a small crowd took in the Labor Day Rock ‘n’ Roll BBQ at 123 Pleasant Street Monday night, but while a limited number of attendees, the musicians involved kept their heads high and walked away happy.
An annual event at the 123 venue, this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll BBQ hosted an assortment of food brought by patrons, as well as a list of bands long enough to keep your counting fingers busy. These acts included Haggard Wulf, Freudian Slap, Ringo Alice, Permed Merkin and Hericide.
Attendence sat around 30 guests who casually decorated the open space of 123. Though it appeared small, Haggard Wulf guitarist Chris Shuttlesworth said it was a decent sized crowd for a Monday night.
"I’ve seen it much worse on a Monday here," Shuttlesworth said. "I was happy to see the amount of people there that there were."
However, Shuttlesworth mentioned local show attendance in general has been low recently. He cites the trend as being a sign of the times.
"Music has changed," Shuttlesworth said. "A lot of the kids, not to stereotype, seem to be into more forms of electronic music – like dubstep – these days, rather than a traditional sense of live music. And this venue (123) doesn’t always work toward those genres of music."
Shuttlesworth made it clear he was still excited to play, no matter the turnout. Along with his bandmate Mike Kulina, Haggard Wulf supplied its expected bluesy bar-band sound while mixing a few covers into its set list. "South of Heaven" by Slayer was a standout.
"We like to mix in the metal covers when we play these BBQ shows," Shuttlesworth said. "It goes along with the metal acts on the bill."
A relatively new Morgantown band went on right after Haggard Wulf.
Comprised of Danielle Conaway, Josh Cook and Susan Grant, Freudian Slap offered an energetic sound somewhat similiar to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
They started a little slowly, but the band especially seemed to click when Conaway left the drum kit and put the guitar strap over her shoulder – her presence as a vocalist and frontwoman could be felt.
Conaway said they are still a new band that is working to tighten its sound, but they are also happy with being in that developmental process.
"You know, we’re trying to learn, and we can only do that by playing more and more shows," Conaway said. "But playing shows is exciting, and 123 is the best place to play."
Bandmate Josh Cook also chimed in.
"I feel like we learn more by just playing in front of people than we do at band practice," Cook said.
For the issue of attendance at this show, Conaway suggested the holiday weekend possibly being a factor, but was quick to assure that no matter the audience size, Freudian Slap enjoyed its time on the 123 stage.
"We just like playing music," Conaway said. "Even with only a few people watching, it’s fun. And even then, people from other bands usually attend the shows, so it’s always a great chance to socialize and network."
This was a point the band wished to emphasize, as they expressed their gratitude to Haggard Wulf for recently "taking us [Freudian Slap] under their wing."
The night went on; drinks were drunk; cigarettes were smoked.
By the time local Southern-style rock band Ringo Alice took stage, the crowd seemed to stand up out of its hunch and approach the stage.
The group’s performance quickly became the highlight of the evening, for some.
A rag-tag crew, this band was not afraid to let its songs carry on as a big, burly man by the name of John "Hippie" Marks hammered on and off a series of guitar notes.
Audience member Danny Sterakal said their performance reminded him of what rock music is.
"They go back to the roots," Sterakal said. "It’s all raw. They record on ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape)!"
To Marks, playing music is all about making a connection. He said he felt that connection while on stage Monday night.
"I’ve seen small crowds be very exciting and large ones be duds," Marks said.
"That was a good crowd. The applause after felt great to hear. It says we connected with the audience, whatever the size. That’s what it’s all about."