A hot sweaty summer club show is a rite of passage of any young music lover, and many experienced just that on Friday night in Clifton Park, NY at Upstate Concert Hall for the triple bill of Cold War Kids, In The Valley Below, and Civil Twilight. The eager young crowd was there from the moment the music started and was one hundred percent engaged until the last note hit.

Civil Twilight took to the stage a little after 8, much to the delight of the crowd. Hailing from South Africa, the four men brought a lot of energy to the stage with soaring lyrics and great guitar riffs lead the crowd to be in the palm of their hands. The set moved from music akin to early U2 to blues infused rock to a more experimental feel. All of it was completely original though and quite enjoyable to listen to. Steven McKellar’s voice isn’t an imitation of Bono, but just a send up to it, while his brother Andrew showed off some great guitar playing that brought their songs to grand heights. Richard Wouters drums drove the band repeatedly through the set and Kevin Dailey’s rhythm guitar and keyboard work filled in the missing slots in the music. Their set never waned for an instant and the crowd wanted more after it was over.

In The Valley below strode on stage and got right down to business. Their first few songs also took the audience by storm, but then the energy soon dipped in the room. The music in my opinion, was great with hauntingly beautiful vocals from Angela Gail Mattson accompanied by wonderful harmonies from Jeffrey Jacob Mendel. Jeffrey also played a mean guitar throughout the set that was matched up with Joshua Clair’s great drumming. The crowd just wasn’t into the dreamscape that In The Valley Below was delivering to them and were a bit out of place since the other bands put on such high energy shows.

After a short break Cold War Kids came on to the stage and for almost an hour and a half destroyed the stage. Nathan Willett, Dann Gallucci, and Matt Maust stood still for maybe all of 10 minutes altogether during the headlining set. I’m sure drummer Joe Plummer and keyboardist Matthew Schwartz would have joined the other three if they weren’t stuck with their respective instruments. Nathan’s vocals were clear and strong and the crowd was singing most of the lyrics right back to him for a majority of the show. “Hang Me Out to Dry” saw a few crowd surfers and led Nathan to say how crazy the Albany crowd was. The band barely stopped in between songs to let the crowd catch its breath before starting the next jam. The second to last song of the set “Drive Desperate” was absolutely stunning and let the each member of the band show off a bit. Coming back for a two song encore, the band gave it everything else they had left before exiting the venue to a rousing ovation.

Leaving the venue as the lights came up were many tired, hot, and sweaty bodies. As they exited out into the cooler outside air, steam radiated off of them. Smiles were strewn across their faces and you can bet most of those in attendance will be back for the next great show in the small venue before summer’s end.


Bryan Lasky is a DMDNR Satellite contributor from the Albany/upstate area. More of his work can be found here.