The Buckeye Nation concert featuring Tai Verdes, Taylor Bennett and student musicians cured all the Monday blues, allowing students to trade stunning dullness for pure fun.
Organized by the Ohio Union Activities Board, the concert took place Monday at Newport Music Hall. The event was originally scheduled for March 26, but undisclosed complications led to postponement. Undaunted by this setback, the four musical groups – A Band Called Dreamland, Jack Harris, Bennett and Verdes – performed with a sense of abandonment bordering on recklessness.
After placing second in the Buck’s Got Talent competition in February, A Band Called Dreamland opened the show with flying colors. The alternative pop/rock quartet consists of Brady Bair on keyboards and vocals, Cooper Bair on drums and backing vocals, Dominick Somerset on guitar and vocals and Aden Weaver on bass, according to his website.
One of the band’s original compositions, “Stupid F—ing Brain,” was particularly memorable. The rhythm oscillated between slow and fast, aptly simulating a restless state of mind.
The group boasted of a playful sound. His melodies sounded bubbly, uplifting and peppy; however, when each song inevitably died out, the emotional depth remained.
Next up was Harris, who won Buck’s Got Talent. Emitting an aura of softness, which manifested itself in canary-yellow lighting, its subject matter was innocent yet introspective. Besides being a proficient singer, Harris was also an enthusiastic storyteller.
Her song “Lemonade and Roses” was about the difficulty of suppressing unwanted feelings. Harris was able to use sentimentality in a rare way, injecting it into his arrangements with understated delicacy. The song “Giant Spider” is an example of this, as it explores the self-awareness that results from crippling childhood fears.
Bennett, a hip-hop/rap artist and the younger brother of Chance the Rapper, was third in lineup. He had tremendous stage presence and performed a substantial amount of unreleased music from his upcoming album “Coming of Age,” which will be released on April 22.
Bennett is currently visiting colleges across the country on his “Be Yourself, Be A Champion” tour. He said the title of this tour reflects his affiliation with the Champion clothing brand.
“This partnership has been amazing,” Bennett said. “The biggest part of my and my brother’s business is accessibility, and partnering with Champion has given me a huge opportunity to do that.”
Interestingly, Bennett used exercise equipment on stage to illustrate the connection between music making and strength culture. While playing “Kickback”, a song from “Coming of Age”, he stopped to lift weights and complete a series of pull-ups, showcasing his stamina as a performer.
Bennett also performed “Fall Short,” a single released earlier this month. Powerful yet emotional, the piece touches on the inevitable pain of coming of age, tied to an overarching theme of nostalgia.
“Even to this day, I can remember experiences, people, or conversations just by playing certain songs,” Bennett said. “I think that’s how I fell into music.”
Two notable Bennett anthems were “Favorite Colors”, from the album “Restoration of an American Idol” and “Dancing in the Rain” from the album “Broad Shoulders”.
“Favorite Colors” emphasized the importance of self-confidence, especially regarding Bennett who came out as bisexual in 2017. “Dancing in the Rain” had a bold yet soulful tone, accentuated by thundering sound effects and a rapid chain of keyboard notes that evoked falling raindrops. Bennett’s enunciation and delivery were impeccably clear, cutting through everything around him.
Finally, pop/R&B singer Verdes closed the Buckeye Nation Concert in a cool and effortless way. His set list included the 2022 single “LAst dAy oN EaRTh”, the songs “Feeling This Bad Never Felt So Great” and “AOK” from his 2021 album “TV”, and the 2020 single “DRUGS”.
When it comes to crowd management, Verdes was accomplished, even jumping off stage and venturing into the audience to preface a number. His energy was groovy and infectious, and his vocal prowess was evident, as heard when he selectively employed a beautiful falsetto voice.
The song “I Deserve 2b Alone,” off “TV,” revealed Verdes’ penchant for paradox. Although the chorus was deceptively bouncy, the lyrics were somewhat self-deprecating and painful, heightening the song’s implications of regret.
Throughout Verdes’ performance, a multitude of geometric lights shimmered across the backdrop, resembling computerized pixels. Their ever-changing colors, from cherry red to plum purple, matched the changing moods of each song and the versatility of Verdes himself.
Mondays could be perpetually dark in theory, but OUAB has managed to establish an exception to the rule. The Buckeye Nation concert was an admirable display of talent, serving as an unforgettable start to the week for the students in attendance.