There’s no place I’d rather be on a Saturday evening than Kilby Court. Crumpler, a female-led Provo punk band, began the night. The set sounded like Blink 182, without tattoos. I moved my head with the energy, but the music was clearly written before testing the singer’s vocal range. The songs bottomed out around climaxes like a sled in the mall after the last escalator stair. Afterwards, some BYU students smoked cigarettes around a blessed fire. Laura (Golden Ghost) then took stage in front of drummer Brendon Massei (Viking Moses). Her voice was novel. Think Beach House blended with a crying bassett hound. Between verses she changed tempos and played harp-like guitar chords. Every time she hit a chorded refrain, I imagined she was using a comb to strum her guitar. Her voice bended between sound extremes, but always landed with perfect pitch. The crowd was half of what it once was when JP Haynie (not JP Haynie: the aspiring showtune performer) began.
A tall man with a dark moustache and glasses humbly took the stage with a band of similarly unobtrusive friends. Two electric guitars, bass, drums and a mini-synth began to gently pump in unison. Imagine dragging the weight of the world behind you in a crippling snow storm. One guitar ate the distortion of another like a wolf. I sensed winter’s cold, instinctively shook my head, and closed my eyes as if Haynie was about to begin a prayer. His voice shook, but it felt human. His music was focused. Each song had a single theme and was easy to keep track of. I scanned the crowd to see if everyone else was as into this as I was. Most people were nodding at Haynie as if reverently consenting to the emotions they felt. Sounds occasionally crescendo, but force was used sparingly. I briefly tasted Akron/Family and swallowed the comparison.
The drums crunched like potato chips and the band’s sound seemed to be a mutual effort rather than a fight for attention. The bassist, a twenty-something with matted hair grinned with each sweeping note. The guitars acknowledged each other for an instant before trailing off into the distance. Haynie strategically ended his set with the conclusion of his first song: Family River. During a guitar break he scratched his head, and, as if trying to forget something painful, shook it slightly while tracking the beat with his leg. His lips awkwardly pulled back from his face, and he continued. The crowd slowly bent forward and backward to the familiar beats presented in the first part of the song. The entire band ended resolutely with the most harmonious chord of the set and the crowd slowly retreated back into the frigid night. Haynie put on one of the finest local shows of the year.