By Anthony Magraner
Photos by Dominique Kozuch
SCRANTON, PA — On a chilly, rainy evening in West Scranton, fans of alternative and indie rock packed into Stage West in anticipation of Boston’s own Slothrust. Stage West has become quite the destination for the area, bringing in a multitude of exciting events and musicians both national and local.
Local heroes Black Tie Stereo opened the evening with an energetic and fun set, keeping the crowd dancing and hardly letting up on the good vibes for the duration. It’s easy to see why they have quickly become such a popular act, drawing fans from all over the area wherever they happen to be playing. Playing a mix of alternative and pop, their songs were expertly crafted, filled with groove, and smothered in toe-tapping pop sensibility that will surely catapult them above your average rock band.
After a short intermission, the lights dimmed as a track began to play over the PA. From the staircase to the right of the stage, Slothrust emerged. A three-piece consisting of front-woman Leah Wellbaum, bassist/keyboardist Kyle Bann and drummer Will Gorin, the trio began their set with “Surf Goth,” an instrumental punk-tinged ripper. Wellbaum used the track to showcase her chops, attacking her guitar with ferocity while the rhythm section cascaded around her.
Following the high-energy opener, the band transitioned into “Rotten Pumpkin.” The surf-punk track offering biting lyrics and a catchy chorus had the crowd moving from the opening notes. The rest of the set showcased how varied the band is musically while still retaining a core sound. “The Haunting” showed a softer side while tracks like “Milking the Snake” and “7:30am” revealed a strong grunge influence. There were moments of surf-rock, pop, ’90s-style alternative, ska and electronic-pop that all blended in such a way to never seem out of place or forced.
Slothrust kept things interesting with an instrumental bass-and-drum interlude/medley including riffs from Sugar Ray and The Backstreet Boys, a slightly reinvented cover of Marcy Playground’s ’90s hit “Sex and Candy,” a midset change for bassist Bann from bass to keyboard and some charmingly awkward banter between songs. The crowd was highly responsive, with many singing along to every word and a large portion of the room dancing, head-banging, and swaying where appropriate.
When the band left the stage after an energetic and varied set, they left the crowd screaming for more. The night ended and the crowd dissipated, leaving their fans smiling and winning over a few new ones along the way.