Rochester’s Roses Stir The Hearts of Rockwood Faithful

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So it’s another day and time for another music report filed from the depths of the gritty urban jungle that is New York City.

Last time around of course featured the brilliant country folk-rock of Brooklyn’s Barefoot & Bankside, as they tore up Manhattan’s Rockwood Music Hall and left a smoldering ruin of blistering musicality in their wake.

Sticking with that underground scene (and Rockwood once again), I dropped by Stage 1 recently to see the delicately gorgeous folk-pop of Roses & Revolutions. The duo of Alyssa Coco and Matt Merritt hold a place close to my heart as they happen to reside north of where I’m from in Rochester NY, and I feel like I’ve gotten to really become familiar with them simply by the many times our paths have happened to cross.

Whether it was opening for bands right in Rochester, Ithaca or Geneva, the twosome has only evolved musically and gotten better each and every single time I’ve seen them. So when I realized I’d be bumping into them AGAIN (this time a bit further away from home), I eagerly jumped at the chance to see what they could do in a “solo” style set.

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And while it was over in about a blink of an eye (spanning 45 minutes in total), the pair made the most out of every note they were given. In a room that was little more than a bar and a few places to sit in front of the stage, R&R filled that space to it’s rafters in sound. Their love of music and passion for what they create made every square inch of capacity feel jam-packed. For that brief span of time, they made Rockwood as personal as their home.

In fact, it wouldn’t have mattered if Stage 1 were a hall closet or an arena swarming with adoring fans. Either way I felt immersed in the intimacy of the performances; held captive by Merritt’s swirling guitar leads in one moment and chilled to my very bones by Coco’s expansive, longing croon in the next. I can honestly say I don’t know when the last time was I’ve felt such vulnerably genuine energy from two people hit with such gut-punching connection.

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The duo have such obvious chemistry and ability together on stage that it radiates like the sun. Whether tackling originals from their growing collection of EP’s (“When a Heart Gives Out”, “Dear My Love”) or covers from the likes of Coldplay and Sia (“The Scientist”, “Chandelier”), R&R handled each turn with grace, sweetness, levity and brilliance.

No matter what the song was, by the end of their Rockwood set they all felt like originals. And that’s just the beginning of the magic that Roses & Revolutions creates.

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So whether you’re near Rochester, Rockwood, at home or out and about, if you see this band…. just don’t be left out.

You’d only be missing out.

Concert Review, St Vincent (Water Street Music Hall, Rochester NY, 3/5/15)

So originally when my concert season for 2015 rolled around, I had every review in mind slated to appear here on my WordPress blog. As sort of a way to keep new posts consistently popping up as the year went on and there wasn’t much else to talk about (should that be the scenario).

However with my opening date to go and see St Vincent, I was presented with an ulterior choice due to a full schedule and not enough time to sit down and present a written review. Plus I had a very serious rant in mind regarding Jenny Hval, who was the opener for that evening and someone… I had a lot of complaints about.

So a video was a better choice for this. Take a listen, and I hope you enjoy!

Local Opener Makes Strong Case For Pop Revolution

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As a native resident of Upstate New York, I often tend to find that the pocket of the local music scene is…. residing a bit to the south of what one might ordinarily consider “sparse”. Of course between rolling green fields, looooong stretches of barren highway, and the requisite placement of cows, one often finds the word sparse to be an adjective that’s rather difficult NOT to use here. Yet despite this timeless truth, I’m always searching for the next local group that might happen to catch my ear.

Enter my introduction to Roses & Revolutions. Or my “stumbling into” rather, as I first encountered the music of duo Alyson Coco and Matt Merritt unintentionally while attending a Head and The Heart show during Rochester’s “Party In The Park” series. From the moment I first heard Alyson’s voice achingly croon across the expanse of that outdoor venue to last week’s opening set for The Lone Bellow at Geneva NY’s Smith Opera House, I’ve come away entranced each and every time.

And yes, while June 7th at the Smith was a headlining night for one of Brooklyn’s finest new bands, the twosome from our own aforementioned Rochester weren’t about to be left out of the equation. The pair mesmerized the intimate crowd with a stripped-down set of songs that showcased their deeply talented pop/singer-songwriter blend, led by Coco’s rich vocals and Merritt’s spaciously appealing guitar. Hauntingly electric at times(but mostly acoustic), the two danced fluidly between originals from their two EP’s(2012’s “Earth And Everything” and 2014’s self-titled followup) in their forty minute performance, along with a dash of reinvented covers that included Coldplay’s “The Scientist” and Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car”.

And while originals like “Moving On” and “When A Heart Gives Out” simultaneously enthralled and captivated, my mind couldn’t help but return to that reinvention of “The Scientist” simply because it was so brilliantly reinterpreted for a new voice. While I’m sure most have consciously uncoupled from Chris Martin and that song by now following it’s breakout smash in 2002, Roses & Revolutions has taken a long-cliche statement and created it into a fact. Simply put, they’ve made the song their own(though the fact they haven’t recorded it yet is a travesty).

So while the bulk of their set at the Smith Opera House was kept at a musical pace that was largely quiet and contemplative that night, the mood of the two Roses in sync together was a mellowing yet uplifting fit for the spell of the evening. Like a soft and inviting embrace, their talent is yet another reminder that there is great promise out there to be heard in the music world. Sometimes, you just have to wind up stumbling into it.

 

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