Lancaster County Convention Center:  main hub of the LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival

Last night was the first night for the LAUNCH Music Conference and Festival in Lancaster, Pa, and the kickoff night was superb.  In multiple venues throughout the city, some of the best local (and not so local) bands came out to show their chops for the Lancaster fans who came out in great numbers to grab a wonderful opportunity to hear some really great music.  Below are some recaps of shows that I had to good fortune of checking out last night.

Who:  Bearded

Where: Lancaster County Convention Center

When:  7:30 PM

Bearded can be best described as a telecaster and a drum set.  The duo essentially jammed out for the entire set.  Bordering on prog-rock jam sessions, these guys brought their version of rhythmic rock instrumentation to the festival.  Loose guitar scales and intricate drum beats made this one cool.  What was striking about this show is that the drums took hold as the primary focus of the songs they played.  The guitar seemed to be more like the rhythm section, as the drums occupied most of the crowd’s focus.  What’s cool about this show is that it really showed the DIY determination that LAUNCH is all about.  These guys might as well have been jamming out in their garage, because that’s what they looked and sounded like.  The crowd really did reciprocate this attitude as a series of “WOOO”s was sure to follow each melodic tune. Adding to the homey feel of the performance is that if you look closely, the guitarist’s strap was actually a modified belt.  All in all, this performance was a very appropriate way to open the festival.  A local band plays a local festival in a relaxed and jammy fashion.  Very, very cool.



Who:  The Aviation Orange

Where:  Lizard Lounge at the Chameleon Club

When:  8:15 PM

Brooklyn’s The Aviation Orange put on a wonderful set of songs that didn’t rely too heavily on any member of the band. The guitars were subtle, unique; the keyboards accentuated the melodies with every chord and scale. The drums didn’t overpower, but gave the songs these beats that pulled the rest of the music all together. The trading male/female vocals played off each other so well that most of the songs sounded seamless. A true collaboration, The Aviation Orange brought electro-infused pop-rock to the Lizard Lounge. Think M83 toned down, or the XX with a drum set and a hell of a lot catchier (and less depressing too). It was a pleasure to have these guys in Lancaster, as I became an instant fan of a band that really knows how to capture a certain accessible ingenuity that so many modern bands are missing these days. Who: Rusted RootWhere: Lancaster County Convention CenterWhen: 9:00 PM

I love it when I see a stage set-up and there’s a mic in front of each musician.  It means harmonies.  And for Rusted Root, four and five part harmonies make their music fun.  It’s not straight jam music, you can sing along.  It’s far from kitschy, either, as the musicianship and songwriting ability of each artist is way too advanced for that.  Rusted Root is one of those bands that makes it impossible to have a bad time at their shows.  Of the shows from last night this one was most well attended.  Everyone from knee-high little kids running around the crowd to gray-haired older men danced to some upbeat acoustic AND electric jam songs the whole time.  There was even a dude with a foot-high spiked mohawk bouncing around like nobody was watching.  It’s pretty impossible not to bounce around to Rusted Root, and the upbeat air of togetherness that came through this performance was truly remarkable.  In the end, Rusted Root stayed true to their own form of jam/rock music and played it for a crow that really cared to hear it.


Who:  Candlebox

Where: The Chameleon Club

When:  10:00 PM

And they said rock n’ roll is dead. It never went anywhere. As long as Candlebox is touring that’s true, at least. Give me two guitars, a bass a singer and a drummer and let them kick some ass. That’s exactly what Candlebox did last night. Guitar riffs bouncing off each other, solo after solo and that voice. The pure rock energy that Kevin Martin brings to each and every song brings the crowd in lyric after lyric. One candid fan in the crowd told me “I love him so much I hate him.” I’m not sure if he’d remember saying this. But that’s what rock n’ roll is. It’s the badasses on stage riffing up and down scales all night long, and it’s the rowdy fans doin’ the air guitar and drinkin’ beers. You know what you’re getting with Candlebox: Kickass songs and awesome guitar solos. And that’s why they’re great. Consistency is definitely a virtue when you rock as hard as Candlebox. Who: Ducky DukeWhere: Lancaster Dispensing CoWhen: 11:00 PM

Ducky Duke stopped by local bar, the Lancaster Dispensing Company last night at eleven, and I couldn’t think of a more appropriate performer to do so.  The stripped-down acoustic show felt so natural in a bar setting.  As people sat drinking pitchers of their favorite beers, Ducky and his band laid down laid back acoustic tunes that could feel at home in any local bar.  The drums and the bass and two acoustic guitars proved a fantastic background for Ducky to belt his dynamic voice.  The old-timey feel of the music and venue allowed everyone in the place (including the band) to kick back, relax, and pack away a few brews.  Nobody was raging or getting rowdy, but rather mingling and chatting at the bar while Ducky put on a set of acoustic gems.