Orange Doors, Drunk Couples, Action City Blackout, and Madam Adam Rocked The Music Farm for the First Annual Back To School Bash

As I rode through the streets of downtown Charleston, watching the raindrops race down the windows of the 213 Carta bus toward the Music Farm, I had an overwhelming feeling the four up-and-coming local bands that were about to perform would turn this dreary evening into a night of original music, unique band compositions, and chill-inducing harmonies - and I was right. This was the first annual Back to School Bash, presented by Charleston's 98 Rock and Rusty's Cool Guitars. Below you'll find a bit about each band's performance, as well as some photos I took during their respective sets.

Orange Doors at The Music Farm.

Orange Doors

Formed in 2010, Summerville natives Orange Doors were the first to grace the stage at the Back To School Bash. Lead singer Ian Russell, sporting a bathrobe that gave off the vibe of “don’t worry about us, we’re just here to rock out.” And rock out they surely did. Their psychedelic indie rock sound purely radiated throughout the venue and the unique brass accompaniment of a trombone and tuba added an aspect of depth to their sound that kept me engaged through their entire performance.

Every time brass player Jackson Inabinett started to gear up his lungs, I knew there was about to be a special moment in the song. Keyboardist Michael Ewens had no problem switching over to shred bass guitar solidified this group of musicians as extremely multi-talented. With Thomas O’Brien flawlessly leading the pace through detailed drum rhythms, guiding all the voices and instruments blasting from the Music Farm speakers, each song was a unique journey, taking me through intense-blood-pressure-rising buildups into unexpected, slow, and beautifully melodic breakdowns. Orange Doors truly was able to make each song a unique experience.

Jackson from Orange Doors on brass.

I was lucky enough to get a quick Q&A with lead singer Ian Russel. Read our brief interview below.

"Orange Doors" is an interesting name. Where did it come from?
"Orange Doors" originated from my Dad actually. We were in the car one day, talking, and I said something and he mistook it for "Orange Doors". Yeah, not the coolest story. Our first band name was: Astro Chompers, then Barbara Manatee, then More the Manatee, then Orange Doors.

If you could share the stage with one band at your next performance, who would it be? And why?
If we could share the stage with any artist, it would have to be the mighty Led Zeppelin. They are my all time favorite classic rock band. You just can't beat them.

The brass is a unique and powerful addition to your line-up and genre, did anything specific inspire bringing that into the mix?
All four years of high school I played and marched tuba in the band. During my junior year, I taught Jackson how to play tuba and he now plays for us. Our music is marching band influenced as I was heavily inspired from it during those years.  Brass leaves an impact on me that no other instrument can.

Stream the new single, "Sip" by Orange Doors below, and don't miss their show with Jordan Esker & The 100% at The Vinyl Countdown on October 1st!

Orange Doors - Sip

Drunk Couples at The Music Farm.

Drunk Couples

Shortly after Orange Doors wrapped up their excellent set, our second band of the night, Drunk Couples, took the stage for some high-energy headbanging punk metal, or as they describe it: “party punk.” The overwhelming strength and energy the trio of produced was impossible to avoid, and within their first three songs, mosh pits and dancers alike started to scatter the once neatly-packed crowd all the way up to the Music Farm stage. I could see from the look on lead singer and guitarist CJ DeLuca’s face the pure passion he has for the lyrics and music that the Drunk Couples create.

Perhaps my favorite words of the night were: “Let’s bring this Holy City some hell!” Because for one, who doesn’t love a good Charleston reference, and for two, it vitalized the crowd to an epic extent. CJ's energy combined with the foundation-building bass lines of Paul King and the heart pumping drum rhythms of Thomas O’Brien (of Orange Doors, O’Brien filled in for Drunk Couple’s original drummer Andrew Barnes), was irresistible. I couldn’t look away or predict what would come next - two symptoms of a truly awesome performance.

Paul King on bass for Drunk Couples at The Music Farm.
Drunk Couples have released two albums thus far, including their newest full-length album, Blasted, and also their debut EP, Cruisin’, which are both dope and worth checking out. I've included a Spotify stream of Blasted below, and you can find Cruisin' on Spotify as well.

Ryan Thrashurst on bass for Action City Blackout.

Action City Blackout

After seeing what Orange Doors and Drunk Couples had to offer, I wasn’t sure if the remaining bands were going to be able to raise the bar any higher, but sure enough, Action City Blackout took the stage and blew me away with their old-school straight rock & roll metal style. Their stage presence was absolutely infectious, namely due to the chemistry among the band members. I was lucky to catch a quick chat with lead singer, Emily Richards after their set and she told me that they have been together since 2009, but she has sung with their guitarist for fifteen years, and the years of experience playing together really showed through their stage presence. Emily also let me know that they are currently writing and working on their next album, due out sometime in 2017.

Action City Blackout at The Music Farm.
Guitarists Collin Debruhl, Ron Reddick, Jack Hunter, and bassist Ryan Thrashhurst were constantly in each others faces while simultaneously annihilating their fret-boards, showing just how naturally playing with each other comes for this Charleston band. I love seeing bands share the microphone and generally pump each other up because that energy radiates to the crowd, and with the heart-pumping drum rhythms of Josh Martin thumping through the Music Farm speakers, it was hard not to move, mosh, dance, whatever you wanted, freedom of throw-down choice.

Emily Richards from Action City Blackout at The Music Farm.
Stream Action City Blackout's rockin' self-titled debut via Spotify below, and see for yourself what they're all about. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on this dope local band.

Madam Adam at The Music Farm.

Madam Adam

The last group, Madam Adam, approached the front of the stage confidently, clad in all white and looking fresh. The four Charleston locals, lead vocalist and guitarist Scott Gould, bassist Kenny Varner, lead guitarist and vocalist Alan Price, and drummer Matthew Reindollar, have been putting the Charleston music scene on the map by touring with and opening for major acts such as Halestorm and Sick Puppies, and the atmosphere they created on stage at the Back to School Bash showed that they were ecstatic to be playing in their hometown, at a venue as respected as the Music Farm nonetheless.

Their set was extremely unique, but my favorite part had to be their use of a synth and drum machine to trigger voice samples, something that usually isn’t done over such a rock ‘n’ roll sound, but it worked beautifully and was extremely compelling. The synthesizer was most notably used to create a heavy warm bass sound that built up until it dropped into the sweet harmonies of Madam Adam's electric guitars. They executed this flawlessly and it really kept me engaged with the rest of the song and their set in its entirety.

Madam Adam at The Music Farm.
Stream Madam Adam's 2015 release, Rite of Passage via Spotify below, and be on the lookout for more of their shows in Charleston and beyond.

This year's First Annual Back to School Bash was an amazing success. It was great to see so much of the Charleston community come out to support such talent-filled music. It was truly incredible to see people singing along, belting the lyrics with these local bands, a sign of true passion and a sign of the Charleston music scene really bringing people together and growing as a whole.


SondorBlue - More Than Reality (Live at Kudu)

SondorBlue - More Than Reality (B-Side Sessions)

Last weekend, SondorBlue played a show at Kudu, and a few days ago this little gem popped up from B-Side Sessions. Filmed by Taylor Hickman and audio engineered by Christian Steinmetz, what we have is a showcase of the up and coming talent that is SondorBlue, performing their single "More Than Reality". I spoke with SondorBlue's Andrew Halley on Tuesday at The Commodore, and he told me that the capacity for their Kudu show was supposed to be 120 people, but they ended up packing over 200 people into that courtyard. That should give you an idea of what the future holds for SondorBlue. Check out this video, and be on the lookout for their debut EP, coming out October 29th.


Hermit's Victory and Brave Baby at The Commodore on September 20th, 2016

On Tuesday night, Hermit's Victory and Brave Baby took the stage at The Commodore for night three of the Hearts & Plugs September Residency at The Commodore. Originally, the show was billed as Hermit's Victory with a Surprise Guest, and the afternoon before the show, it was announced that Brave Baby was the second band. Despite the late announcement, The Commodore was totally packed out. It was great seeing all the familiar faces in the crowd, so many like-minded people who are collectively the reason why the Charleston music scene has become such a vibrant, growing community.

Hermit's Victory at The Commodore.

Hermit's Victory

According to the Hermit's Victory backstory, frontman Tyler Bertges locked himself in his room over the course of a year, writing and recording the songs that ended up on his self-titled debut LP. After seeing him perform live for the first time on Tuesday at The Commodore, I can say that Tyler's stage presence really fits that description. I'm not sure if he plays it up for the sake of a performance, or if he really feels a certain level of discomfort in the face of a crowd, but either way you can see it in the way that he conducts himself on stage. From the lowered head, to the backpack, to the sweatshirt tied around his waist, to the extra shirt hanging over his shoulder, he's got a unique charm that makes you wonder what's going on inside his head, and helps to draw you into his sound.

Prior to the show I played Hermit's Victory on repeat a few times to get an idea of what to expect, and while I enjoyed the chillness and lyrical quality of the record, I enjoyed the live performance even more. The live sound was much more full than that of the record, and that was largely thanks to the array of local musicians who joined the stage with Tyler, including Wolfgang Zimmerman (who recorded and produced the album) and Christian Chidester of Brave Baby, amongst others. The extra musicians brought the laid-back, eerie Hermit's Victory songs to a more upbeat level that really got the people moving, without the sacrifice of the emotional impact at the root of the album.

What I'm really trying to say is that you should go see Hermit's Victory live if you have the chance. You won't be disappointed. Stream the self-titled Hermit's Victory below and hear it for yourself.

Brave Baby at The Commodore. Photo: @gabriellanatali

Brave Baby

After Hermit's Victory finished up, Brave Baby took the stage to close out the night. It was exciting to see them play such a small venue, and even more so in front of a bunch of locals that pretty much knew all the words to every song. There was a certain connected feeling between the band and the crowd that made for a great show. It was like one big group of friends hanging out, drinking, sweating, and enjoying Brave Baby, with Brave Baby. Whether or not we knew each other on a personal level didn't matter, because the music was enough to bring us all together.

The evening itself was one big highlight, but a major standout moment for me was their performance of "Forty Bells", when Clay White, who had played with Hermit's Victory earlier in the night, jumped up on stage with his trumpet to add that horn sound that I love so much in the studio version. I've said before that its my favorite Brave Baby song, and you can bet your ass I was belting out the lyrics, just like everyone around me.

Perhaps the most epic moment from Tuesday's show was when Brave Baby played "Last Gold Rush". As soon as the song started, Keon put down his guitar and turned his back to the audience, singing the opening verse in a Jim James-esque manner, complete with the electric voice and hand motions. At the point in the song when the beat really drops, Keon leaped off the stage into the crowd and floated around on the people's hands for a solid minute before returning to the stage to finish it off.

Brave Baby ended their set with a super high energy performance of "Lakeside Trust", and I think it was the perfect choice of song to cap off the evening. It got everyone jumping around, both on stage and in the crowd, and though we were all worn out from moving to a long set, we were willing to do it one last time for the sake of finishing strong.

There was also some talk circulating throughout The Commodore about Brave Baby working on some new music. While I haven't heard confirmation of this, I'd say be on the lookout for something new from them in the near future.


SondorBlue at Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer on September 17th, 2016

SondorBlue at Kudu
On Saturday night, college kids and Charleston locals alike came out to Kudu Coffee & Craft Beer to see up and coming Hilton Head band SondorBlue live. It was hot as nine hells and pretty tightly packed in Kudu’s cozy little courtyard, but I’m sure I can speak for everyone there when I say that I had an awesome time nonetheless - SondorBlue put on a show that was beyond fun to watch and turned me (and everyone else there) into an instant fan. The band has been hard at work all summer, playing over 70 shows around the Charleston area before starting their senior year at the College of Charleston. The culmination of this busy summer takes the form of a debut EP dropping in late October, which will be available to stream on Spotify, iTunes, and Soundcloud.

Onstage, nothing comes across clearer than the fact that these guys truly love to play music, and that they love playing together. Members John Sheehan, Connor Hollifield, and Andrew Halley each contribute vocally, employing Crosby Stills Nash & Young-esque three part harmonies and hitting impressively high and low notes with ease. The three varying voices add a lot to the overall quality of the band’s sound in terms of vocal range. In addition to singing, Hollifield plays acoustic and, more recently, electric guitar, Halley plays bass, (which he’s just picked up within the last year - although it looks as though he’s played his whole life, he told me he started because the band didn’t have a bass player) and Sheehan plays keyboard, acoustic guitar, and the violin. And not to be forgotten is Drew Lewis, referred to by Halley as the “best drummer around town," who kills it on the drums.

In addition to musical talent, the band offers well-written, insightful lyrics and a charming stage presence that inspired an enthusiastic reaction from their audience. From start to finish the band gave the performance their all, never once losing their energy or faltering in the quality of their music, interacting with the audience with the ease of musicians that have been performing twice as long as they have. Their set was well balanced between original songs and covers -- some highlights for me personally were a very well done cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and an original song that made it on 105.5 The Bridge last week titled “More Than Reality” which has been stuck in my head since I heard it.

I had the privilege of interviewing the band after their set, and I had almost as much fun talking to them as I did watching them play. The members of SondorBlue are some of the nicest, most down to earth musicians I’ve met: it’s obvious both onstage and off that they sincerely love making and playing music.

From left to right: Connor Hollifield, Drew Lewis, Myself, Andrew Halley and John Sheehan.
In addition to having a great relationship with each other, the band seems to have a strong sense of their identity and what they want to achieve by making music: when I asked each of them to describe their music in one word, “compassionate," "human," "organic,” and “intentful” were what came to their minds. The name SondorBlue reflects that choice of words: ‘sondor’ was chosen because it “refers to the unique life story carried in each one of us,” and emphasizes the fact that every person has something of their own to say. In terms of musical influence, they listed Coldplay and The Beatles as two favorites, as well as Tame Impala, who they explained influenced Sheehan’s recent experimentation with synth electronic sounds using a keyboard. CSN&Y, Matt Corby, and Dr. Dog were also mentioned.

On another note, the SondorBlue guys are lucky to have a wonderful support system behind them. While interviewing them I had the privilege of meeting Andrew Halley’s parents, the band’s manager, Charles Wyke-Smith of Charleston Artist Management, (who told me he was “very proud of his boys,”) and Perri Schwartzman, their roommate, who was in the front row for the entirety of the set and knew all the words to each and every song. Perri has known the members of SondorBlue for a long time, and told me she was their manager back in the day, when they went by the name Local Visitors. Perri is without a doubt very proud of her friends - “they’re the best roommates in the world,” she told me with a smile, “and you can write that.”

To conclude, I can say that I loved hanging out with SondorBlue on Saturday night. I was impressed first by the quality of their performance and their music, and then by their relationships with each other, their authenticity and their genuine love of music. I think that’s what fuels the vision they have for the band, which Hollifield defined for me as their desire to get out and play as many shows as they can for as many people as they can. I look forward to following the very talented guys of SondorBlue as they continue to progress in their career, and I consider myself lucky to have gotten the chance to see them live.

SondorBlue can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@SondorBlue), and their debut EP will be released by the end of October.

BYOG at Charleston Pour House on September 17th, 2016

This past Saturday, September 17th at The Pour House, after a relaxing bluegrass set on the deck, the crowd migrated inside for a night of complex rhythms and beautiful melodies brought to life by the creative minds of Charleston natives, BYOG. The show was opened by another local group, Nocturnal Kernalz, setting the pace of the dance-filled evening with their reggae fueled rock and roll sound.

With two sets planned for the night, BYOG took the stage shortly after and immediately got the crowd moving with their irresistible funk-rock compositions and improvisations. Formed in 2011, BYOG consists of five Charleston locals, vocalist and rhythm guitarist Blake Zahnd, extremely skilled drummer JP Treadaway, David Buck producing entrancing melodies on the lead guitar, Philip Pasquini with the swift hands on the keyboards, and Cory Takach flawlessly ripping the bass guitar. In a live environment, the atmosphere they create with their sound is nothing short of compelling or inviting, inspiring anyone to dance as soon as the smooth bass-lines and elaborate melodies hook you in to the rhythm.

The most unique event of the evening was definitely when BYOG welcomed Alex Veazey of Damn Skippy to the stage to merge the two genres of rock and hip-hop together with his well-crafted rhymes during their first set. Towards the end of that set, BYOG also brought out Dave Beddingfield, lead guitarist in well-known South Carolina band Atlas Road Crew, to join in their jam, and it was definitely a treat for fans of both bands. Another cool change up was when BYOG let their keyboard player, Phil Pasquini, take the reins on the microphone and sing lead for a song. It was a really interesting change of pace because I don't see a lot of bands passing the microphone amongst their members very often, but he had a really fluid voice that was unique from Zahnd's and went well with their sound, so it's something I entirely encourage more of.

BYOG is currently on tour, so be sure to follow them on all their social media accounts to keep up with their dates ranging throughout the South East, as well as any future releases!

BYOG Set Lists:
Set 1
Flood City >
Lefty Lucy $
Satisfied Alone
Shattered Wheel
Appaloosa (Black Crowes cover)
Salt For The Sailor
As It Rolls *
Cosmic Slop + (Parliament Funkadelic cover)
King Hamartia

Set 2
One Way Ticket (Mars)
Hurricane ^^^ (Levon Helm cover)
Silver Teeth
Third Eye
I'm Your Captain/Closer to Home (Grand Funk Railroad cover) >
Fork In The Road
Voices %
The Cost
$ Alex Veazy on rhymes
+ Dave Beddingfield on guitar
% Alex Goyett on keyboards
* Debut


Them Oh's - Take A Walk For Two (New Single)

Them Oh's is the brainchild of Charleston based singer-songwriter Jack Prine: a four-piece garage rock band that is set to release their debut EP 18 to 21 on Friday, September 23rd via a free download on Bandcamp. What we have here is the first single off that EP, "Take A Walk For Two", and if its any indication as to what the rest of the album is going to sound like, then we're looking at a great debut release. "Take A Walk For Two" gives off a kind of old school Arctic Monkeys vibe, blended together with that Chucktown feel that we've all come to love, and I look forward to hearing the rest of the album. Stream "Take A Walk For Two" above, and keep an eye out for Them Oh's in the local scene!