When Ari Herstand and his five-man band took the stage Saturday, they were one of the lucky groups with a sizable crowd. Throughout the concert, the floor fluctuated from one- thirds to two-thirds full, with over three hundred people attending overall.
The playlist fit the assorted talents and interests of the group and included everything from rock-out sessions with intense electric guitar solos, trumpets and tambourines to beat boxing and ska.
Adding to the complexity and uniqueness of their sound was Herstands loop station, with which he created impressive vocal percussion and instrumental back beats. These additions made the band sound huge, which the audience appreciated.
Favorite crowd moments included lead guitarist Brian Palays three-minute-long electric guitar solos, band member Tim Kloster setting aside his trumpet to run around the stage shaking a tambourine and the intermittent looped vocal percussion.
The students acted like a typical St. Olaf crowd. For the first few songs, the only sign of movement in the masses was the head nod, a distinct sign of remote approval. The enthusiasm intensified as the set continued, however, and
people started to, as Herstand put it, "bust a groove" during the third or fourth song.
Herstand and the band were happy with the turnout and crowd participation.
Herstand said, "I know it sounds cheesy, but St. Olaf is one of the best audiences I have ever had."
The band even came back on stage for an "unplanned" encore, an unusual move for the group.
When there were audience complaints, they tended to be about the length of the concert. An hour and 45 minutes is a long set, and the audience started to dwindle about 20 minutes before the end.
Others thought the bands sound was too similar to popular artists and their lyrics a bit tired, but overall, the concert was well-received.
Saturday was the third time that Herstand has made an appearance at St Olaf. His first two solo performances were held in the Lions Lair last year
and featured acoustic guitar, trumpet and vocals. The tiny space would not have been big enough to hold the bands sound or equipment, much less their fans this year.
The band recorded Saturdays concert and will be releasing a live album sometime this spring which will include songs from Saturday night. Herstand will likely be back on the hill sometime within the next year, though he doesnt know if the band will be with him, as some of the members still go to school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Herstands next local concert will be at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m.