The first day of World Carnival 2011 kicked off with a menagerie of musical acts performed under the Main Stage tent. The festival, which has been a major event at St. Mary’s College for 18 years, had a Friday night line-up just as appealing as the Saturday show, and showcased musical acts at a smaller scale than those to appear on Saturday night. In years past, there have both been Battle of the Band runner-ups and a Best of Coffeehouse set that highlights musicians which were met with praise during the school year.
This year’s World Carnival kept up with what was done successfully last year by offering a Best of Coffeehouse set which saw the likes of 2/3 Goat, Pie Boys Flat, The Five One, and Pearl and the Beard. Each band brought a unique flavor to the table at the event and the crowd, which got larger throughout the evening, was largely receptive and in high spirits throughout most of the evening.
The Five One, a D.C. based rap group which performed at the college routinely during the Spring 2009 semester, opened up the event with their blend of alternative and indie rock infused with clever lyrics about fame, growing up, and the power of the individual.
After The Five One was the act 2/3 Goat, a country-folk outfit from New York that performed earlier this school year. The performers also took the time to explain each song and how they came to fruition, a noble attempt at connecting with the audience which had its hits and misses. 2/3 Goat’s lead singer, Annalyse McCoy, discussed the cause that they as a band are supporting, ending mountaintop removal, and what it meant to them. Referencing the performance, junior Chris Page said, “They sang the best song about West Virginia mountaintop removal I’ve ever heard.”
The next act of the evening, New York City’s Pie Boys Flat, which is partly comprised of members of 2/3 Goat, played a polished set comprised of blues, rock, and reggae which got the majority of the audience up on their feet and moving. The stage dynamic was also very strong as each performer was able to instinctively go on any and all improvised solo work which was no doubt the result of hard work and raw talent.
The final act of the evening, New York’s Pearl and the Beard, was for many the most anticipated act of the evening, following a very successful set earlier this year. Consisting of a trio of Brooklyn natives in vintage clothes and glasses, they played to the largest crowd of the evening and performed a very energetic, folk inspired group of songs. The crowd consistently talked to the band, danced together, and were grinning from ear to ear. The musicians, who made it very clear how lovely the reception was, could not have been more enthusiastic onstage and also spent the majority of their set in the heat of the moment. “It was amazing. Their musical talents are just so awesome,” said first-year Shannon Starcher of the Pearl and the Beard’s performance. “There’s nothing else I can say!”
Due to inclement weather, Saturday’s World Carnival for the most part had been shut down, save for some of the performances which were originally scheduled to be under the Main Stage tent. Even though many of the World Carnival events planned for the afternoon were cancelled, students were still given the opportunity to enjoy acts such as the SMCM Step Team and Caribbean Steel Drum band in St. Mary’s Hall on South Campus that evening.
In addition to the acts which were rescheduled and moved to St. Mary’s Hall were Three Man River Band, the winners of the Battle of the Bands contest held in March, and Virginia Coalition, the headlining act for this year’s World Carnival. The events, unfortunately, had low turnout due to the location change caused by the weather which was itself an issue as there was a tornado watch issued for the county.
Those who did attend the headlining event, however, were given the opportunity to enjoy a very energetic set by both Three Man River Band and Virginia Coalition.
Three Man River Band, a group of musicians comprised of seniors Jimmy O’Keefe, Aaron Mirenzi, Nathan Hesse, and Keith Brown, played a very polished and well received set which focused mainly on songs on their forthcoming album which will be released later this spring. Their blend of folk and rock and jam band aesthetics, which has gained them notoriety and a dedicated following on campus, was at an all-time high during their performance.
After the opening act, the crowd grew significantly smaller throughout the evening despite a very entertaining set by Virginia Coalition which boasted some crowd favorites and covers of songs like “Lean On Me” and “I Want You Back.” This could arguably be due to the locale of the concert, St. Mary’s Hall, which isn’t necessarily the most conducive environment for a dance party as it is a sit down venue. Regardless of the politics surrounding the audience turnout, Virginia Coalition, who is noted for their high energy antics on stage during performances, did not disappoint: there were multiple percussion solos by both the band’s lead singer and the pianist, comedic interludes, and moments of audience interaction that had the crowd in what the lead singer liked to call “The Groove.”
Overall, those who attended said they had a good time and a wonderful experience. “I thought it was an awesome concert,” said junior Caitlin Cromer. “Virginia Coalition was amazing, they had fun regardless of how many people they were playing for, and put on an awesome show.”