What a show. I have been to a couple of CMU sponsored shows before, both in Wiegand Gym. One was Broken Social Scene the other Andrew Bird. I found them both "ok" because of the venue; the sound always seems to jump around a gym where you never are able to distinguish the vocals. This show, however, was set at the Rangos Ballroom which was partitioned off and suited the sound much better.
We didn't show up until after the first band's set had ended. We meandered around while Arc in Round (from Philly) was setting up. I really wanted to hate these guys after a while because they took almost 30 minutes when it seemed they were ready to go after 10. To be fair I am not sure if this was driven by the students running the show or band. Although it didn't help to notice the lead try and tune his guitar about 10 times (making me believe the latter). They soon launched into their first song and it really put a smile on my face. They have an atmospheric, shoegaze sound going with vocals just distinguishable enough. It set the right tone. They then went into their next few songs which were solid, but not as even as the first. The vocals switched from the lead to female keyboardist who had some decent chops. All in all a good lead in.
Next up was Frightened Rabbit who didn't take but 5-10 minutes to get going. They kicked it in high gear right off the bat showing the crowd a lot of energy. At the time there were approximately 180-220 people in attendance which surprised me seeing as I wasn't sure a lot of people would have heard of them. They belted out several tunes from their new album 'The Midnight Organ Fight' before launching into songs from their previous record. They were definitely feeding off the energy from the crowd as everyone was hooting and hollering after each song. After the set the lead came out and did an acoustic version of an old tune which was as quiet as I have heard from a crowd that size (probably helped it was a dry show). They finished up with everyone wanting more, but closing out with just one more song. I cannot say enough about the band, venue, crowd, etc. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had in quite some time.
I am not sure who booked the band at CMU but I really hope they continue to bring in acts such as this. If this show had been at a different venue, I doubt you would have seen the crowd size or audience.