Les Deuce Punks De Faux, made up of Tim Kraack '09 and Charlie Cosimini from Macalester, opened the show to an ever-shrinking crowd. They sounded something like indie rockers the Thermals mixed with thrash giants Locust. Before I go any further, I want to make it explicitly clear that I like punk music, but I hate music that doesn't expect anything from its audience. There was nothing subtle about any of their lyrics, nor was there anything creative or exciting in their entire set. While the music was at times danceable and kind of frantically sexy, I was put off by the lack of any real lyrical depth.
The one attempt at anything clever in their songs came in the form of lead singer Lucky Deuce barking like a dog. The 30 seconds of fake animal noises epitomized everything wrong with the set. The band isn't sub-par for a lack of trying; they fall flat for a lack of ability to channel and refine their creative energy. The band is composed of only two members, and they're fairly young guys. Once they outgrow their rebellious stage and learn to express themselves with subtlety, they have the potential to mature into something decent.
The second act of the night was piano balladeer Kevin Meyer '08. He was an improvement on the Les Deuce Punks De Faux. Unfortunately, an improvement on LDPDF still leaves the audience trapped in arpeggio limbo. Meyer plays music-major music for music majors. He opened the set with a couple blues-infused, Ben Folds-style piano and voice numbers followed by a cover of Walking in Memphis. Meyer has a lovely voice, but the manufactured quality of his lyrics came across as insincere and made him hard to buy as a serious performer.
Meyer played the role of church music coordinator, instructing the audience how to sing along on one despondent love song. If Meyer had the energetic bravado of a rock star or was in a basement full of friends, his requests wouldn't have been so hard to swallow. As it stands, the plea for participation just came across as an ego booster.
Meyer was so inoffensive that one couldn't help but take offense to him. For example, many of his lyrics were just recycled clichés ("work like you don't need the money, hold on, better days are coming") and lacked the poetic quality that makes a set of lyrics really great.
Meyer has pretty good technical skills and he has a nice voice. At times, he let down his guard and infused some passion into his performance, but his formulaic compositions prevented him from ever really reaching his potential.
The last act of the night was the Limestones. The Limestones are the Limestones; there isn't much I can say about them that hasn't already been said. They're clean-cut young men who sing sugary-sweet music for clean-cut girls. And they're very good at what they do. In a set that mixed original with cover songs, the Limestones continued their tradition of making girls swoon.
The set didn't really show much growth from previous performances, but was still a strong showing. Newer members of the a cappella septet seemed comfortable in the spotlight (except for the look of panic that crossed one member's face during a sound hiccup).
Jamnesty wasn't as good of a show as last year, but it's important to remember why the concert took place. While attendance fell victim to its Sunday-night time slot and the lack of a group with the star power to really reel in the crowds, attending the event still provided concertgoers with the opportunity to bring relief and positive change to the people of Darfur.