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As 2015 winds down, people begin to put together their best of lists and share it right away. I for one think that though you can begin to put the lists together, the list shouldn’t come out until right before the new year, not at the beginning of the month. If I had done that already the impressive set that Arkells through down at Upstate Concert Hall this past week wouldn’t have made the list, though certainly will be in contention now.
Starting the night off were two local hard working New York State bands. Of The Atlas are a fairly new indie rock band that doesn’t stray too far from the confines of their songs. Their music was guitar driven and very enjoyable, but if they were to let their songs breathe a little more, Of The Atlas may be on to something. Hard Soul came next and the five piece band blasted through a great set of tunes. Playing quotes from movies between their songs let their set have some humor to it. Their set never waned for a moment, even during their slowest song of the set that by the end of it turned into a free form jam bringing a lot of applause from the crowd.
The second the Arkells took the stage, the crowd was 100 percent invested for the remainder of the evening. Max Kerman, the band’s lead singer and guitarist was a force of energy the whole show. Watching him engage with the crowd almost every song was an absolute joy, whether it was getting them to dance in the dark or sing as loud as they could. Though the music was unfamiliar, every tune had me bobbing my head up and down and even dancing a little myself. Their songs are infectious and the band gave it everything they had throughout their set. Some stand out tracks were “Cynical”, “11:11”, and the set closing “Whistleblower”.
During “Pulling”, Tony Carone was tested for his Billy Joel knowledge during the middle of the song and happily produced “My Life” and “Movin’ Out”. The band were having fun the entire time they were up there. For the encore they came out into the crowd and did “Book Club” with acoustic instruments and only lit by cell phones and flashlights. It was a great moment followed by the band charging into its’ latest single “Leather Jacket”. Arkells are definitely on the rise and a band to watch in 2016 as they play more often in the US and gain a following. They are ready for big things right now and I expect to have to see them in a larger venue on their next go around.