A concert at the Collins Center for the Arts (CCA) on Feb. 2 featured two jazzy alternative bands with equal parts soul and zest. Sammy Rae and the Friends headlined the evening after an outstanding opening act was delivered by Midnight Breakfast.
Midnight Breakfast is a Maine-based group of six dedicated musicians that formed in 2019. Lead Singer Jennifer Shevlin-Fernandes displayed an animated elegance at the CCA and I was immediately struck by her remarkably powerful yet simultaneously soothing voice.
The band’s emerging on-stage energy allowed their audience to view the artists as a cohesive unit. It is exceedingly clear that the members are in tune with one another, both figuratively and literally. Even their clothing appeared to match a color scheme that was consistent with the aura of their melody.
“Words cannot describe the feeling of being out there, returning to the place that started it all, and seeing many familiar faces in that crowd. We sincerely thank our old and new friends, every ear that’s listened and those who danced their hearts out on Friday,” Midnight Breakfast said. “In the last few years, the local music scene has truly flourished due to the community’s overwhelming support, and we’re so grateful to have been a part of that.”
Instrumentalists Benjamin Flanagan, Loren Pinkham, Myles Kelley, Evan Dickson and Reggie Kollman produced a strong sound with steady progression throughout each track. Those in attendance could physically experience vibrations as the tune built up. Shevlin-Fernandes had the capacity to hold notes for impressively long intervals.
“On my very first day on campus, I actually saw them perform at the IMRC and it was killer. It’s really great to see a band that is from the area, and they’re growing,” said Thomas Poling, program director at WMEB 91.9 FM. “They have a real electric energy going on.”
My preferred song on this set is titled “Hometown.” The music elicits feelings of summertime nostalgia. The succinct description of elements specific to being young at the beach matched the soothing instrumentals quite well.
Pinkham’s saxophone accompaniment helped to achieve a sense of tranquility throughout the number, which made me think of a quote by Stan Getz. “At its best, it [the saxophone] is like the human voice.” I found his notion to reign especially true in “Hometown.”
Sammy Rae and the Friends is an eight-member band based in Brooklyn, NY that emphasizes a theme of togetherness. Their sound is rooted in classic rock. The group has performed numerous sold-out shows across the U.S. and Europe.
“Sammy Rae and The Friends is definitely a source of inspiration for us, and they bring energy to the stage like no other. Going from being an audience member to sharing the stage and opening for them right before they jump back into their Camp tour is a highlight of our adventure as a band,” said Midnight Breakfast.
Singer/Songwriter Rae’s angelic voice has a unique twang, well-accompanied by an impressive vocal range with exceptional control. She took it upon herself to initiate interactions with the crowd. Rae even joined hands with an audience member in the front row. The entire band had a vibrant presence and moved around the stage so even viewers up on the balcony could tell that they took great pleasure in playing each song.
“Coming Home Song” was certainly my favorite on account of its uplifting undertones. Its lyricism alleviates the notion of self-discovery having to be an eternal struggle. I feel that the concept is to let listeners know that they have the freedom to become whoever they desire to be. I found the song inspiring, to say the least, and believe its anthem is excellent for anyone out there who may feel lost in themself.
The CCA proved itself to be an excellent venue for such dynamic musicians. The acoustics were crystal clear and echoed throughout the building. There were also beams of light that seemed to flash in accordance with the beat.
What most contributed to its positive atmosphere was the level of enthusiasm throughout the crowd. Fellow student attendees in particular were lively and visibly enjoyed the music as much as I did.