WCU’s Summer Concert Series kicks off with Brandon Kirkley, StereoFidelics

Brandon Kirkley and the Firecrackers, known as BKTF, came to Western Carolina University on June 7 to kick off the annual UC Lawn Summer Concert Series.

Each concert in the series will start at 7 p.m. and will last 90 minutes. The series started June 7 and will run until July 26. All concerts are free to the public.

The concert ushered in about 50 people, an ok turn out according to Lori Davis, assistant director for campus activities. Clouds threatened to interrupt the concert with rain, but held off for the 90-minute performance.

Hailing from Charlotte, Brandon Kirkley and his band are no strangers to the Carolinas or Cullowhee. They have taken part in the series multiple times in the past, although they say this could have been their favorite time here. Their new drummer, Dave Ryan, experienced his first performance with the band at the concert.

Their music often offers a strong beat and catchy lyrics, with the intent of keeping their audience’s hands clapping the entire time. The band’s website clearly states they are best at, “creating those songs that will instantly get stuck in your head.” The high-energy performance combined with a few slower songs here and there created a balance for music lovers of any sort.

BKTF also felt they made a few new fans after seeing the audience’s positive reaction to the band. They also said that they had good sales on their CD’s and posters.

The next week, the Asheville-based duet StereoFidelics came to WCU on June 14 to perform.

A thunderstorm that swept through the region at 6:30 p.m. postponed the show for an hour. While the band was supposed to do a full show, rain prevented them. The concert was instead moved to Illusions where the band, with too little time to re-set up their entire show, performed an acoustic concert. Chris Padgett was responsible for the acoustic guitar, whereas Melissa McGinley used a five-string electric violin.

Both were familiar with Cullowhee, having performed on campus multiple times.

“We first played for the campus radio station back in 2007,” Padgett.

The rain not only drove off StereoFidelics’s initial performance, but their original audience as well. They were not worried, though. Being from Asheville they understood the weather patterns.

“We’re pretty laid back and chill,” Padgett said.

Once people saw the band start to set up in the UC, the audience slowly began to regrow. By the time the show ended, Illusions was filled with students from orientation.

One orientation counselor’s jaw dropped as McGinley began to play her violin at an alarmingly fast rate.

“Oh my God,” she whispered to the girl beside her, both obviously floored at the speed.

At one point during the show, the two began to ‘battle’ one another with their instruments. Padgett would play a piece on his guitar, and McGinley would repeat the section on her violin.

StereoFidelics offered a fast-paced, high energy show despite the change of plans. The audience appeared captivated by the duo as McGinley stomped and danced around stage with her violin and Padgett strummed his guitar as though it were an extension of himself.

Vocals and instrumental pieces combined as the band sifted through various music styles ranging from an old-fashioned country song to a Spanish-style number.

McGinley said the two had been playing together for three years and played for a lot of college towns, taking inspiration from bands such as The White Stripes and James Brown.

When asked about their music style, the two replied, “We have a unique sound that doesn’t really sound like any one band.”

Lori Davis hopes more of the community will come throughout the summer and have the opportunity to experience WCU’s campus and Cullowhee at their best.

Davis said, “Stop by any of the local restaurants and bring food to enjoy during the show! Bring blankets and chairs, hula hoops and bug spray!”