On Saturday, Feb. 14, fans piled into the German Club to get out of the bitter cold to enjoy the acoustic stylings of The Wonder Year’s Dan “Soupy” Campbell under the pseudonym Aaron West.
Aaron West has been a character study Campbell has been exploring for the past year with his “debut” album We Don’t Have Eachother. The show also featured support from bands The View from Up Here, Everything Ever and Call It Arson. It was certainly a Valentine’s Day to remember for everyone in attendance regardless of whether they came with a date or not.
Aaron West performed in the German Club at UNH, Feb. 14 (Photo by Dave Taylor)
The Music Industry Club hosted the night. “This event was definitely one of MIC’s best shows in a long time in terms of attendance,” said Jong Kim, vice president of live sound for MIC. “We were also able to run the show very smoothly with the least amount of technical difficulties, thanks to the help of all the other club members.”
First on stage was The View From Up Here; an acoustic pop-punk act from UNH led by vocalist Andrew Cunningham, featuring Michael Quick, Dom Gubernat and Gavin Stacey.
This was the band’s album release show for their self-titled EP, playing the entire record as well as a cover of Death Cab For Cutie’s “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark.”
The energy from the band reflected all the excitement they had for the evening, appreciative of the chance to perform and share what had been months in the making. The View From Up Here was mixed by Josh Welshman at Flux Studios and Mastered by Sam Pura of Panda Studios, who has worked with the likes of State Champs and The Story So Far. The band’s personable nature on stage and passion made their show enjoyable and there is no doubt these guys have immense potential.
“I haven’t played on stage, with a full band, since high school, so I was incredibly excited to play,” said Quick, A View From Up Here’s guitarist. “Not to mention the fact that there were more people in the German Club than I have ever seen at a MIC show in a while. It’s always a great experience to share something that you’ve created with other people.”
Next to perform was Everything Ever, a punk group from Staten Island New York. The trio showed their powerful presence from their first note and kept the energy up through a set full of new songs. Everything Ever recently signed to a new label, Secret Audio Club and have their debut full length album Solid Ground coming out on March 10. Not only did the band have great stage presence while performing, but their banter in between songs was witty and anecdotal to their audience. Prefacing the song “Doing Nothing” by discussing their college experience got huge laughs from the whole crowd and the song itself was probably the highlight of their performance.
Direct support on the bill was from Connecticut locals Call It Arson with a mix of upbeat punk beats and some more mellow tracks suitable for the romantic evening. There was a definite following of the group in the crowd, as fans called out song requests they even threw some into the set as they went along. The band put on a dynamic set spanning their entire discography from their self-titled album to their most recent release Between Two Cities.
James Downe gave a strong vocal that really resonated with the audience. Supporting local artists is something that has been very important to Music Industry Club when it comes to booking artists and it’s been great to see over the years truly how much talent is coming out of Connecticut.
Finally it was time for Aaron West to hit the stage. Aaron West is a persona completely imagined by The Wonder Years front man Dan “Soupy” Campbell, inspired by The Mountain Goats’ album All Hail West Texas. Campbell’s dedication to the story and character stretches to both on and off stage; he signed autographs as “A.West” all evening and sported a Buffalo Bills hat on his way in, “I’m not a Bills fan, Aaron is” when asked about it by a fan.
In between songs like “Grapefruit” and “Our Apartment” Aaron West tells a sad tale of the past year of his life; the death of his father followed by his wife’s miscarriage ultimately ending in their divorce leaves him lost and unsure of himself. He travels in his father’s old Mustang down the coast until he finds a place to clear his head, ultimately leaving the listener wondering what’s going to come next.
Although without his full band, the Roaring Twenties, Aaron West performed a stripped down and vulnerable solo performance.
The crowd included a huge number of The Wonder Years fans and like most shows it became a sing along of somber melodies. Even with such soft songs with sad subject matter, the subdued mood in the room never lost its energy.