The Starbucks at Butler University would seem like an unlikely place to catch indie rock but it’s quickly emerging as a legitimate venue thanks to the efforts of the Butler Student Government Association’s Coffee House concert series. The series has already featured Chicago-based Company of Thieves, and will host Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. on Nov. 17th and Walk the Moon on Dec. 2.
On Friday, the coffee shop was host to Butler’s own Matthew Ferris Band, a foursome who play a sort of bright, playful, rock with the “youthful exuberance of O.A.R.,” according to one on-looker. Fronted by Matthew Loewenstein (middle name Ferris) on the acoustic, the band features an electric bass, keyboard/synth, and a metal-influenced drummer.
What’s worthy of note about these guys is the complexity of their songwriting. A lot of young bands can pull off the garage or alternative thing if they add enough distortion and bass, but MFB seem to already have a fairly refined aesthetic after only a few months together as a band, and without a distortion pedal in sight. Furthermore, Loewenstein’s lyrics are surprisingly poetic and, even if they display some rougher moments at times, show a kind of potential that makes one curious to see what he’s going to come up with next.
Take for example the line “My heart is pumping effervescence/platinum blood through chrome veins,” from their song “Rise and Shine.” It’s the kind of lyric that makes you want to stop and untangle the meaning, even if there may be no meaning to it, and then start to make up the meaning on your own. That, to me, is a feat that deserves further attention.
Loewenstein sings with that charming, adolescent kind of hope in his voice that only a 20-year-old can have, while providing the musical direction on the acoustic with fast-strummed open chords. Keyboardist Kenneth Quilaton acts not only to smooth things out, but ends up carrying a lot of the melodic weight, since there’s only one guitar. Hayden Rice provided some serious back-bone with his metal-esque fills, but Ian Opalinski’s bass could stand to get kicked up a few notches, in my opinion.
If there’s a main point of criticism, it seems these guys haven’t played together enough to have really gelled into a solid unit. Though you can sense the overall feeling they’re going for, you still get the subtle sense they’re not really on the same page as a band. They seem to come from different points on the influence spectrum and have yet to meet in the middle; at this point they are four promising musicians, but perhaps not really a band yet.
Overall, however, this is one local group to watch. If they can stay together long enough I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as an opening act at a venue around town very soon.