To be honest I was pretty skeptical about attending the Ben Rector show and the Varsity Theater simply because of his Pop-ish nature and the fact that 90% of his songs are love songs that appeal much more to the female fan-base than the male. However I have to admit, this guy knows how to connect with his audience. He accomplished this from the first note played, opening his set with a cover of Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets” which got everybody smiling and singing along from the get-go. Despite the Pop-ish feel to some of his songs, Rector displayed his undeniable ability to not only write but also perform his songs. His piano-driven melodies and combination of humorous (making up an entire verse based on the Bachelorette from an audience suggestion) and heartfelt lyrics were reminiscent to that of Billy Joel, James Taylor, or even Paul Simon, with a more modern flair similar to Gavin DeGraw or Ben Folds. I was thoroughly impressed with not only the relaxed and personable feel of his entire set, but also how many fans knew each and every word to all of his sings (since I had only heard his name for the first time a few weeks prior to this show). While Rector may not be for those die hard indie-rock, heavy metal, or EDM fans, I believe there is a little something for just about everyone in Rector’s music, and he is definitely someone to see live.
I am pretty sure I had heard the name Alpha Rev in the past, but never took the time to listen to any of their music. Boy do I wish I would have done this sooner. Alpha Rev is a combination of Casey McPherson (Lead Vocals), Zak Loy (Guitar), Jeff Bryant (keyboard), and Clint Simmons (drums). This band delivers heart and soul behind their lyrics and songs I have rarely heard. Their anthem-like single “Sing Loud” took over the entire room and had everyone in the audience captivated and singing along. The group also decided to play a totally acoustic (no amps, no mics, no nothing) version of their song “New Morning” to a pretty receptive Varsity Theater crowd, especially receptive for an opener. One of my favorite aspects of this group is McPherson’s heavy, gritty, and powerful voice that seems like it would be suitable for a more heavy rock band, but instead is put over top of the more indie rock musically driven group that is Alpha Rev. This is a band that no doubt has big things coming in their future, and is worth checking out.