Java Jive opened the first of four rounds of “The Project,” the University of Maine’s very own musical talent contest Tuesday. Long awaited, it proved to be another enjoyable yet varied night of acoustic music.
Each act was limited to 15 minutes and was assessed by two judges for originality, sound, audience reaction and stage presence. The top two scorers of each round will go through to the semi-final on April 11, from which the final four will progress to the finale on April 24.
Tyler Irish opened the night with his mellow, alternative blend of guitar and vocals. Split across only two songs, Irish’s instrumental focus provided a wide range of sounds, with his effects pedal making a brief appearance toward the end of the act.
Adam Perron followed, singing his more upbeat songs with a country tone. Although his voice was softer, he made up for this with impressive solo work on the guitar. Perron was joined by a friend on guitar and vocals for his third and final song, a funkier number which showed off his partner’s strong voice and featured Perron on bass.
Nick Havas successfully squeezed five songs into his 15-minute slot and gave a well-polished, confident performance. Self-described as “unconventional,” Havas showed off an impressive scope of music, ranging from intricate folk tunes to French ballads, and even included “Weird Al” Yankovic-style comedy songs. His strong voice and effortless stage presence ellicited a great reaction from the audience.
Up next, Joshua Hiatt presented his passionate blend of Christian rock. He sang four mostly upbeat songs with his guitar, including “Don’t Lose Your Soul” and “Reborn.” While explaining the spiritual background of his songs, Hiatt was brimming with enthusiasm on stage, which was clearly reflected in his music.
“Johnny Rainfield,” the performing name of duo Carl Hansen and Zac MacIntyre, closed the first round with their infusion of classical piano and acoustic guitar. MacIntyre’s vocals on the opening and final songs echoed something of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, while “Perfect World,” with Hansen’s stronger voice, displayed more of a folk style. They ended the evening on an impressive performance of distinctive music.
At the end of the evening, the successful qualifiers were announced with some surprising results: Joshua Hiatt and “Johnny Rainfield” will go through to perform again at the semi-final on April 11.
Unfortunately, the evening was scattered with technical difficulties that included problems with microphones, pickups and feedback. While some acts were able to continue unphased, it was clear that some of the performances were affected by the distractions.
Next week, Java Jive brings Boston-based singer Tim Blane to campus. The next qualifying round of ‘The Project’ will take place on Feb. 13, and the competition will run throughout the Spring Semester on every other Tuesday evening, at 8 p.m. in the North Pod of Memorial Union. Contact Jessica Bishop on FirstClass or the Campus Activities Board for more information.