Calpurnia Gives Electrifying Performance in Downtown Austin

By Keana Saberi, Reporter

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The air is buzzing with an excitement that pulses like the soft music thumping in the background from one of the speakers. It begins to drizzle, growing in intensity, the temperature falling, and a chill breeze swaying through the crowd. The crowd swarms around the stage, flooded with teens filled with giddy nervousness as the sky grew darker. The Historic Scoot Inn exudes a quaint Texan charm and fans of the band Calpurnia mingle in anticipation, waiting for the show to start. The stage is lit up with bulbed lights strewn across the stage.

Calpurnia is an Indie rock band from Vancouver, Canada, led by singer and guitarist Finn Wolfhard. The Stranger Things star is joined by his three close friends and bandmates Malcolm Craig, Ayla Tesler-Mabe, and Jack Anderson. Their performance on Jan. 11 at the Historic Scoot Inn was one of many stops on their tour in the southern United States, promoting their debut album Scout, released on June 15, 2018.

Calpurnia is exclusively known for their soulful sound, reminiscent of music from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Their retro vibe and meaningful lyrics attached to their hits songs Greyhound and City Boy are why many fans are attracted to their music. Their songs are tinted with a sort of nostalgia, reminiscing of good times and a teenage spirit that many of their fans can surely relate to on a personal level. The sound they produce is that of twangy electric guitars, Ayla Tesler-Mabe’s sweet yet rich voice, and Finn Wolfhard’s raspy vocals, which creates a musical experience to remember.

The band opening for Calpurnia during a partial part of their tour, Lunar Vacation, is an ultra-talented youthful soft indie/alternative band which is led by Grace Repasky and her legendary vocals. Lunar Vacation’s crew set up the stage as the group was about enter on to the stage.The crowd started to compact and huddle closer to the stage as the lights above the stage dimmed to notify the audience.

The crowd roared as Lunar Vacation entered the stage and greeted the crowd with a friendly and breezy manner, generally not synonymous with hip rock and indie bands. “How is everyone tonight?” They called out to the crowd with a genuine kindness that I quite admired. They began playing some of their songs from their album Artificial Flavors, all of which are anthems of teenagersand are carefree and melodic while still being upbeat and perfect to sway around to. The music is filled with the robustness of electric guitars as violet stage lights bask them as they continue singing and playing. I love that their music is both a combination of sad, nostalgic and almost melancholy tunes as well as jams to dance to and that lift your spirit.

Soon after Lunar Vacation played their final notes, Calpurnia’s four members appeared on stage along with the deafening screams of their fans. They greeted the crowd, saying they were thrilled to be in Austin despite the frigid rain that continued on.“You all are incredible for being here tonight.” They echoed out into the throng of fans in the audience who roared in excitement. I appreciated the passion and strength by which they played their hit songs Waves, Greyhound, City Boy, and Wasting time. Their warm and inviting tone quality and lighthearted and vibrant attitude towards their fans made their music all the more entrancing to listen to. Ayla’s guitar stopped vibrating through the speakers at one point but the band continued on, playing with a look of joy in all four of the members’ eyes. The band radiated a dynamic energy as they sang their hearts out.

The crowd was intensifying and jumping up and down so fervently and rearing closer to the stage. At one point the crowd got so rambunctious that Finn Wolfhard himself stopped the tune they were playing to check if a girl in the crowd was alright. Despite that pause, he addressed the crowd with a sunny disposition that was extremely commendable and that touched me and many others.

They played faithful covers from iconic groups such as The Beatles and Nirvana, both big influences on the group who all grew up listening to classic rock and indie music. Ayla’s warbling toned vocals, Finn’s raw energy, Jack’s riffs on the guitar, and Malcolm‘s fierce playing of the drums emanated the definition of rock indie sound. The spectacular stage lights shaded blue and orange light upon the performers which created an almost cinematic experience. Even as they were departing the stage, the crowd cried at them “Encore!” and then they played two more songs, leaving the audience in pure awe. It was incredible the way their instruments and voices blended together in almost perfect harmony. Many Westwood students were in attendance and they noted their positive experiences.

“The show was invigorating and I think everyone had fun despite the rainy and cold weather, ” Megan Geerts ‘22 said.

The outdoor vibe of the venue was open and perfect as the music bounced off the walls of the courtyard. Though the venue was not closed and indoors the pouring of the rain didn’t dampen the mood set by the cozy, down to earth feel the location emanated.

“It was really fun. By the end of the night we were soaked, but it was really worth it to see the band,” Mythili Shirhatti ‘21 said. “They were amazing and I loved the venue.”

Many fans had been waiting in anticipation for this concert for quite a long time. There were some fans just in attendance because of Finn Wolfhard’s popularity from Stranger Things, yet many had loved Calpurnia’s sound since the band released their album.

“All of the band members were so outgoing and great performers,” Cameron Hewett ‘22 said. “I’ve been a fan of their music for a while and it was spectacular.”

Despite the harsh rain, chilly weather, technical difficulties and minor setbacks, the show was a cultivation of young yet brilliant talent that thrilled, excited, and definitely captured who both Lunar Vacation and Calpurnia are as creative artists. Their genuine passion and charming manners were such a treat to all the members of the audience, and it’s clearly evident that these two powerful exhibitions of ability aren’t leaving the music scene anytime soon.