Student and non-student music fans alike packed into the UMass Dartmouth auditorium for Delta Pi Omega and UMD Concert Tech's third annual Rock-A-Wish concert. Big D and the Kids Table, Just Surrender, and Night Fevers made up the eclectic line-up to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation on a night filled with fun music for a good cause.
Kicking off the event was Night Fevers, a fresh rock group from New York with a heavy emphasis on groove. Most of the audience was unsure of what to expect from the band when they saw vocalist Jack Tangney make his way to the stage with his wild, red afro and customized, golden microphone stand equipped with a brass knuckle handle. Being an unknown opening act can be hard, as made evident by the apprehensive crowd sitting in the auditorium seats. Drummer William Tully brought a quick end to the awkwardness by going out into the audience to get them up to the front of the stage. It paid off, because from that point on both the band and crowd seemed to enjoy themselves more. Night Fevers have been together for less than a year and are unsigned, but by the time the band concluded their set with the spirited "Way I Am", it was clear that embody they radio-ready sound and chemistry that labels look for.
Up next was New York's Just Surrender, who treated the audience to a fun set of dual-vocal pop-punk. The band played a number of cuts from their two full-length albums. Since they had 50 minutes to fill, they threw in some songs that they don't normally play live, as well as two brand new tracks that will appear on the band's forthcoming release, Phoenix. Guitarist Dan Simons was the most charismatic of the quintet. In addition to handling a lot of the lead vocals, he toyed with the crowd by professing his love for both the Yankees and a girl standing in the front row. He also performed a solo number entitled "Is There No Truth In Beauty?", which showcased his individual talents. My only complaint with their set is that the guitars were too low in the sound mix, but that didn't stop anyone from enjoying their catchy tunes.
Ska fans had been waiting all night to skank along to some good, old-fashioned ska - so much so that they many were dancing to songs played over the P.A. system between sets. So as soon as Big D and the Kids Table hit the stage with the opening number, "Little Bitch", everyone went wild. The Massachusetts natives played a set lasting over an hour with material both old and new, including such fan favorites as "My Girlfriend's on Drugs", "Hell on Earth", "Steady Riot", "Noise Complaint". The band's newer material mixes their traditional ska sound with reggae and soul influences, but they seemed more comfortable playing their older material, with frontman David McWane bouncing around on stage like a true rock frontman rather standing still while crooning. Fans were also hungry for the older, energetic material, during which they went as wild as possible in the ten foot area between the stage and the first row of auditorium seats. The location proved to be problematic, as made evident by the couple of chairs left dismantled by the night's end, but everyone was having a good time. Big D's encore culminated with the F-bomb-filled anthem, "LA.X".
Delta Pi Omega and UMD Concert Tech both deserve a huge congratulations on the success of their latest Rock-A-Wish concert and a thank you for not only raising money for a good cause but also getting bands that people actually want to see - a rarity for the school. The Concert Tech crew deserves additional kudos for the professional-quality light show they constructed.
Also be sure to check out videos of Big D's and Just Surrender's full sets here and here, respectively.