Music Fest 2019: Old and new sound combined
Courtesy of Robert Kinnaird
Despite the rain, Hofstra University’s 2019 Music Fest proved to be a day of firsts for up-and-coming artists as well as a moment of reverie and recollection. Performers included new-comers The WAVE and Band, Unispan Records artist KarmaRe and headliners Shortly and DRAM. Combined, the artists provided a fresh, elevating sound, ranging from hip-hop to lyrical and energizing the eager crowd.
First onstage was The Wave and Band, comprised of Hofstra students Tyson Brice on lead vocals, Kamiron Storiey on bass, David Ferris on drums, Seth Denis on keyboard and Dan Toogood with Will Cubero on guitar. Onstage, the group delivered a very groovy, relaxed flow, highlighting a great performance quality and positive lyrical messages. Brice describes the band’s sound as a phrase they’ve coined “bedroom rap,” a vibe he hopes the audience will pick up on every time they listen to their songs. “You know how, when it’s late at night and you’re in your room by yourself, and it’s specific music that you listen to and dance around to by yourself? Essentially it’s the vibe that we are aiming for as a group – it’s that sound,” Brice said.
The band’s lyrics were very raw and real while also managing to be incredibly relatable and empathetic. The band was open about not having made a set list, which made for a very chill, fun, relaxed, go-with-the-flow vibe. The crowd was incredibly supportive and it showed in the multiple cheers. There was an interesting band dynamic with members of different races and styles.
The second performer of the night was singer-songwriter KarmaRe, an artist picked up by Unispan Records. On stage, she delivered a very relaxed sound and performance, emphasizing her soft style and sound filled with country-like, ethereal vibes. With only background vocals, a ukulele and few other synthesized instruments to back her up, KarmaRe’s voice was a beautiful complement to the simple setup.
She has a very unique tone that could almost be described as fragile, while still being so clear and crisp that the audience could hear every note. Embodying a soft yet powerful sound, KarmaRe’s set supported her relaxed lyrics well.
“Whatever the songs call for are the ways I make it happen,” she said. “Music connects you to the world. It connects you to other people, and it makes you feel a certain way that words just can’t. I just want to keep doing that and making sure the music is honest to me.”
Next to captivate the crowd was Shortly, a solo project that was started by singer-songwriter and Detroit native Alexandria Maniak. On stage, the band delivered an upbeat and exciting performance that was built upon the foundation of Maniak’s sweet, gentle voice.
For up-and-coming artists, Maniak emphasized the importance of perseverance in the early days and the importance of never giving up on the love of music and performing. “Just get going. Honestly,” she said. “I know it sounds really lame, but getting started is the hardest thing to do. After you get started, if you just consistently keep going, things will just keep happening and happening and happening, and it will build upon itself naturally.”
Last but certainly not least to take the stage by storm was the main act: DRAM. Before getting to his most popular song, “Broccoli,” DRAM jokingly admitted that he knew this was the song everyone was waiting for.
His set could be described as soulful rap, and the exciting and uplifting sound got the crowd bouncing. With a fantastic mix of his own music and various covers, including several in dedication to the late XXXTentacion, DRAM announced that he couldn’t end his set until the crowd turned up.
DRAM was incredibly comfortable with the audience, so much so that he sat down on the edge of the stage, strengthening the connection he made with the people in the crowd. To add an even more personal touch to the set, the artist handed the microphone to an audience member during “Broccoli.”
Overall, the set was energizing and fun, rounding off the performance on a powerful high note. By the end of the night, all four artists left the Hofstra crowd buzzing, on a high from the energy of good music and happy, lively acts.