Eight talented indie musicians played their hearts out in TDU on February 23rd from 7 to 10pm. On this music-filled Friday evening, University Program Board’s Spotlight Sounds and WXJM, JMU’s radio station, co-sponsored the performance of Snail Mail and two openers, Scott Grimm and Dead Bedrooms.
Snail Mail is an increasingly popular three-person indie band that has toured around the US and other countries. Lindsey Jordan is the iconic 18-year-old vocalist and guitarist that created Snail Mail in 2015 in her hometown of Baltimore, MD. She is now joined by DC natives, bassist Alex Bass and drummer Ray Brown. They previously produced an EP with Polygon Records and are now working on a full-length album that will come out this year with Matador Records.
“Everyone was really into it,” said Jack Sullivan, an undeclared freshman, about the performances.
The night of fun had a running start with the stage filled with instruments, huge speakers, changing background colors, and a black Spotlight Sounds banner. There were Campus Cookies to the side of the stage, as well as t-shirts and other Snail Mail and Dead Bedrooms merchandise. The couches surrounding the stage and the rest of the audience were filled with excited and supportive students. More indie and alt-music fans, including members and friends of Dead Bedrooms, sat closer to the stage in front of the couches.
“I’ve been to a couple of concerts, but this was the most packed,” said Andrew Herbert, a freshman SMAD and communications double major, referring to the other Spotlight Sounds concerts this year.
Scott Grimm is a current William & Mary undergrad student and Williamsburg, VA native. He plays guitar and vocals as a solo act, but even alone, he shows just how well he connects with his audience and puts his heart into both his covers and original works.
Grimm began his set while making conversation with the audience, laughing, and having some friendly banter with Dead Bedroom’s Delaney Keefe. The up-beat, and sometimes emotional, original and covered songs that he chose accentuated his soothing and flexible voice well. He continued his banter in-between songs, congratulating JMU on beating W&M at their homecoming game. As he wrapped up his set, the crowd clapped and wooed for Grimm.
“Not that I don’t like playing music,” Grimm said at the end of his set, “but one of the biggest reasons I came here was for Snail Mail.”
Comedy in-between songs continued with Dead Bedroom’s set, as Delaney Keefe and Jack Hales joked about the Olympics and talked to the audience. It was obvious that as well as talent, the band has a passion for their work. Dead Bedrooms is a 6-month-old JMU-based band that has toured in VA, NJ, and DC and has toured constantly so far this semester. They are all JMU students and WXJM members, except for the recent graduate lead singer, and put all of their original music on bandcamp.com. They always looked like they were having fun on stage, especially Keefe, as she danced and got really into the music when she wasn’t playing.
“[Being a band has] helped us all get more confident with our music,” said Keefe. “…Especially as women,” she added later.
The members and close friends include the main vocalist and JMU alum, Claire Merian, and the bassist and sophomore political science major, Audrey Hessler. The remaining two members are the drummer and senior international affairs major, Jack Hales, and the keyboarder, guitarist, and back-up vocalist and junior political science major with a pre-law concentration, Delaney Keefe. In a conversation after their set, the band members spoke about their journey together so far. It may all change soon with Merian’s plans to move to Maine and apply to be a nurse.
“We’re hoping to be able to keep recording and playing and keep the band going,” Hales said.
Several more people moved to sit closer to the stage during Dead Bedroom’s finale, and the crowd continued to grow as Snail Mail started. A relaxing indie vibe filled TDU and transfixed the fans. Grimm and Dead Bedrooms were also in this crowd as Jordan sang passionately and connected with the crowd.
“Time to go back to your dorms,” Jordan laughed towards the end. “That’s all… Just kidding.”
In between each song, everyone cheered and wooed for them, as Jordan thanked them, and they continued with the rest of the songs. Nearing the end, Bass and Brown left the stage for Jordan to take over as a temporary solo act. With a night full of laughter, cheers, and good music, everyone attending left smiling, with new music to check out online later, and some even left with new friends.