So Last Year celebrated the first night of their summer tour with a hometown show at The California Brew Haus on June 3. The send off included performances by bands they’ve been sharing a stage with for some time: Maple Hill, Daily Milestone, Pilot The Universe, and Nostalgic Stereo. See the photo gallery at the end of the article for more pictures.
What The California Brew Haus lacks in style, it makes up for in character. The furnishings are worn in. Musicians load and unload gear through exit doors covered in band stickers. The wall behind the stage is plywood, hand painted with the name of the bar. But the food is good, the patrons are friendly, and the live shows rock.
This night was no exception. We arrived when Maple Hill was taking the stage. The lively pop punk band from Ithaca played a set which included “Stomping Ground” from their 2016 album Headspace and “Well, Well, Well” from their earlier EP. Daily Milestone performed next. They had the audience clapping along to their catchy song “Silence.” It was announced that the drummer, Austin Porrata, will be moving to Nashville soon. He picked up an acoustic guitar and delivered a touching rendition of “Learning How To Love,” originally by Colony House.
Then So Last Year was on. Frontman Logan Van Epps asked the audience to sing along to the intro. The band started playing the theme song to the show “Reading Rainbow,” and the crowd belted out the lines enthusiastically. They kept the momentum going with their song “The End of My Excuses pt.II,” a vibrant rock anthem with a strong beat. Fans clapped along and sang the chorus, “One day all we’ll have is stories and songs, but this is our chance to sing along… tonight.” They followed with their ballad “You Can Imagine The Wild Times,” which showcases Van Epps’ vocal range, from soft and low to soaring heights.
Also included in the set was the love song, “In Light of Summer,” which featured Van Epps on keyboard. This title track from their second album is also notable for its phenomenal guitar segments. Lead guitarist Jon Stowell positioned his hand over the top of the neck of his Les Paul, working over the fretboard with unbelievable speed and dexterity. Jason Campbell and Curt Matteson were a dynamic duo, and it was fun to watch them play rhythm guitar and bass, respectively. While Mitch VanDenBerge is a new addition to the band, he is a seasoned musician and performed admirably. They ended with “The Enchantment of Our Youth,” a song from the 2013 debut album.
The disappointment of the end of So Last Year’s set was quickly replaced with curiosity as a group of kids (one decked out in a Boy Scout uniform and another in a karate school windbreaker) started setting up their gear. They hung up their band banner, with their logo and name Pilot The Universe. Jaws dropped when they started jamming some funky originals composed in band class. The five-piece outfit included a keyboard player, and the lead singer also played saxophone.
Set included their most recent creation, “Koto.” Immediately following was Nostalgic Stereo from nearby Williamson. Playing exclusively alt rock covers from the past few decades, this is the band that time forgot. They got everyone to sing along to hits from Blink 182, Fallout Boy, and Yellowcard. Mid-set, lead vocalist Alan Overslaugh announced, “Let’s do something different.” Drummer Ty Palmer grabbed an acoustic guitar and the pair launched into a medley of emo ballads originally performed by the likes of We The Kings, Mayday Parade, and Dashboard Confessional. The finale was Blink 182’s “Dammit,” ending with Overslaugh saluting the audience from atop the monitor box, a thank you to the audience and send-off to So Last Year as they embark on their summer tour.
June 11 Boston MA – House Show
June 15 Akron OH – The Overlook
June 16 Kent OH – The Outpost
June 17 Pittsburgh PA – Black Forge Coffee
June 18 Buffalo NY – Buffalo Iron works
June 25 Syracuse NY – Spark Art Gallery