Welcome Back Concert rocks McCarthy quad
Posted August 28, 2012 at 12:11 am in Lifestyle
A number of freshmen and a smattering of sophomores and upperclassmen flocked to McCarthy Quad on Saturday for the annual Welcome Back Concert, presented by the USC Program Board Concerts Committee. The line-up consisted of R&B artist and USC alumna Raquel Rodriguez, indie-electro band Electric Guest and the headliner mashup duo The White Panda.
After winning the 2012 National College Battle of the Bands, Rodriguez has received much attention as a powerful singer who draws influence from artists like Ella Fitzgerald and Amy Winehouse.
Her set was tame: a couple of original, not too over-the-top songs and a cover of the Amy Winehouseâ€™s â€śValerie,â€ť which showcased her seemingly effortless soulful crooning.
But Electric Guest, which followed Rodriguez, took the concert from funk and soul to synthesizers and spot-on falsettos.
Based in Los Angeles, Electric Guest is made up of lead singer Asa Taccone, drummer Matthew Compton and brothers Tory and Todd Dahlhoff. Though Electric Guest is known primarily as an indie band, there really is no one genre that accurately describes the bandâ€™s music.
The songs were mostly upbeat, with catchy, techno rifts that Taccone sang over in his extremely versatile voice. Tacconeâ€™s stage presence was like that of a lava lamp: unpredictable but with a degree of continual ebb and flow. His limbs flew about in the heat of a song. He bounced. He appeared to be some sort of mystical superhuman dancing in the purple lights and stage fog.
Electric Guestâ€™s â€śAmberâ€ť was a song along the lines of reggae electro pop. Singing â€śAmberâ€ť in his soft but controlled-to-a-tee falsetto throughout the whole song, Taccone could have made any girl with the name faint. It was unique, yet catchy and alluring.
Another one of Electric Guestâ€™s more popular songs, â€śThis Head I Hold,â€ť sent the crowd whooping and cheering as soon as the distinct piano intro started playing.
After such an outstanding performance by Electric Guest, it seemed that no other act could outdo the band.
Except for The White Panda.
The two behind The White Panda, Tom Evans and USC alumnus Dan Griffith, are taking the mashup world by storm. Through their remixing ingenuity, it is no wonder The White Panda came in as one of SoundCloudâ€™s top-five most-played artists in the last year.
As the stage was being set, students snapped on their panda masks and eagerly, almost aggressively, chanted for The White Panda. When crowd anticipation reached its peak, Evans and Griffith popped up from behind their DJ stand wearing furry, bejeweled panda masks that, unsurprisingly, also lit up.
The duo did not hold back at any time during their set. They started with a bang and also ended with one. As the lights whizzed and rotated from the stage, the screams and rhythmic throbbing of light-up foam sticks from the crowd mirrored the energy of the panda-masked men moving and jumping from behind their stand.
The White Pandaâ€™s mashups incorporated songs from the popular British boy band One Direction to La Rouxâ€™s Bulletproof, among other top-40 hits (and some more obscure ones). But no matter what songs they were tinkering with, the two were able to create addicting and hypnotic sounds from just about anything.
Depending on a studentâ€™s personal preference, any of the sets could have been his or her personal favorite. Rodriguezâ€™s untouchable vocals and jazzy band made for easy, mellow listening. The charisma radiating from Electric Guest as well as Tacconeâ€™s soft and sentimental voice was fresh and memorable. Then there was The White Panda and the band membersâ€™ ability to pump up a crowd with quick, trance-like music.
This yearâ€™s Welcome Back Concert had something to offer to everyone, from low-key bluesy sounds to alternative music and wild, fist-pumping beats.