BENNINGTON -- On Friday evening, Jan. 10, Oldcastle Theatre opened the doors for the first-ever rock concert at its Main Street venue, welcoming local powerhouse rock trio The Lost and their crowd of hometown fans.
Since they formed in July 2012, The Lost has been fronted by lead guitarist, vocalist and keyboard player Cody Myers alongside bass and saxophone player Jake Hill and drummer Kevin Breese. The three musicians were all born in Bennington before traveling elsewhere, and now, after touring throughout the northeast, they simply consider themselves to be based in New England.
After a year of rehearsing on their own, the band played their first concert -- a benefit for an artist friend. They came out of the show with high spirits, but Myers says they "quickly found out that the local venues can be pretty sparse, especially for a band that doesn't play covers."
However, a few weeks later their luck turned around when they met Chris Bates, host of the local WBTN radio show "Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped," who offered to help publicize the group and help them book concerts.
"Now, we're playing shows, we have video clips on Vimeo and YouTube, and we're getting airplay on ‘Outdoor Secrets Unwrapped,'" said Myers.
With a diverse set of influences that include Rush, Queen, Bad Company, and Van Halen, drummer Kevin Breese, who took the stage in a top hat and suit vest, also added that he loves ‘80s glam, and multi-talented bassist Jake Hill cited John Coltrane as an influence, having studied jazz saxophone in college.
Taking the stage promptly at 7:30 p.m., the band immediately showed their taste for screaming guitars, booming bass tones and aggressive rhythms. Breese's quick reflexes gave his drum parts a crisp, clean, heavy feel, and Hill's high vocal harmonies nicely complemented Myers' loud, clear vocal style.
In its first test as a rock venue, Oldcastle's theatre impressed with its layout, ambiance and acoustics. Without a set or any decoration, the stage offered more than enough space for the 3-piece band, giving them some room to roam during the show. The seating arrangement also gave the room an intimate feel and offered perfect sightlines from every seat. The venue's size also allowed the drums to be played unamplified (except for the bass drum), giving them a vastly preferable natural sound, and the amplified instruments came through the two-speaker PA system clearly without the PA system needing to be cranked up excessively.
After about 45 minutes of original songs, The Lost introduced the patented "30/30" section of their show, in which they aim to perform 30 different cover songs in 30 minutes. Starting at 8:13, they launched into a mega-medley of legendary rock standards that included parts of "Foxy Lady," "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Ticket to Ride," the hard rock peak of "Stairway to Heaven," the vocally-challenging Billy Joel song "Downeaster Alexa," "Smells Like Teen Spirit," "Sunshine of Your Love," and a surprising segue from "Thunderstruck" into a hard-rocking version of Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream." Living up to their promise, the band finished the set of covers at 8:42 p.m., clocking in at 29 minutes in total.
Returning to original songs, the band showed their ability to craft intricate, expansive and exploratory instrumental sections within their songs, often revolving around Myers' heavily-effected guitars. Myers also shifted to keyboard for parts of some songs, turning to a synthesizer set up on his right.
The show's high point came during the band's next-to-last song, a sprawling composition called "Goodbye" that featured Jake Hill switching between bass and tenor saxophone. Unlike some of their heavier material, the song had an optimistic, warm character and built up to a massive energy peak in the central section, ignited by an impressive, raucous sax solo from Hill.
To conclude the performance, the band followed "Goodbye" with a cover of the Simple Minds' hit "Don't You Forget About Me," best known from the soundtrack of "The Breakfast Club." In contrast to the original's synthetic, mildly impersonal feel, The Lost heaved into the song with all of their might and emotion, bringing it to life in a way that the audience clearly appreciated.
With momentum starting to build in their career, The Lost showed the Oldcastle crowd that they're not content just going through the motions. Both as individual players and a cohesive band, they clearly take the stage with the intention to play as well as they possibly can at all times. For a rock band, this drive and ambition isn't just useful, its a necessary tool in the pursuit of widespread success. And it's a tool that The Lost certainly has.
Jack McManus can be reached on Twitter at @Banner_Arts and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org